Art by Jonan Everett
When I put down $2,000 on a non-refundable trip, my intuition had warned me, “Sarah, I think your best friend’s wedding will be that week, so you might want to hold off making this purchase.” I didn’t listen to that inner voice, and it cost me dearly. But, if you trust your gut, it can help prevent financial problems.
Learning to tune into and trust your gut is key to helping you understand your financial motivations and to ultimately become a better money manager.
Think about people who shop compulsively or get into tons of consumer debt. It’s not because they’re dumb people. Rather, they probably didn’t stop to think about what they were doing. When faced with a decision, you know what’s best for you, even if it seems totally outrageous or far-fetched.
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Razwana Wahid’s Story
Razwana Wahid, a recruitment consultant in her early 20s, hated her job. Her gut kept telling her to quit and find something better. The job literally gave her a headache. “My intuition was telling me that this job was wrong for me because I didn’t make any effort to get to know people inside the company and it wasn’t a long-term career. But I was scared of losing the monthly income.”
One morning when Wahid pulled into the parking lot, not only did her headache get worse, but she also threw up.
She dreaded the thought of going into the office, and her body was telling her to leave.
“That morning, I made the decision to hand in my resignation letter,” she said. “I had very little in savings, but I didn’t care. In six weeks, I found another job, and I didn’t starve or eat up all my savings.”
Wahid learned that her intuition was telling her that better things were in store for her. When she finally handed in her resignation, her headache and nausea instantly disappeared.
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How to Listen to and Trust Your Gut
There’s no right or wrong way to do this. The important thing is that you create a daily habit so you can practice listening to your gut. The best time to start listening is early morning or late at night, when it’s quiet. Having a quiet space alone is essential so that you’re not distracted by outside factors.
For me, that would be my son running around. I have to constantly watch him so he doesn’t get into trouble. Even the smallest of distractions will stop you from listening in. When you do find those pockets of time, start small.
Start a Gratitude Journal
A great way to start reflecting on your life in general is through a gratitude journal. Forming this habit is super simple, and it will take you less than 10 minutes a day.
You start off first thing in the morning: Write about three things that will help make the day great (be honest!) and talk about what you’re grateful for — the more specific the better. Try not to repeat the same thing. I used to write how grateful I am that my son is in my life. Then I’d name out specific things he’s done to make me smile.
At night, you simply reflect on your day. You can sum it up in one sentence or write down one thing that went well and one thing you would change.
You can start this practice by writing in a notebook or grab the Five-Minute Journal. This journal features an inspirational quote and has all the questions mentioned above so that you can just fill in the blanks.
If you want to take it one step further, give meditation a try. Despite what you may think, meditation isn’t designed to help you just feel calmer and happier. It’s a way to help notice your thoughts and tune in to what your body and mind are telling you.
Sometimes when you least expect it, your intuition will start telling you what you need to do. I know from experience — at one point, my intuition told me not to take a job offer, and I didn’t. Turns out, the company had massive layoffs the next month.
So start paying attention to that voice in the back of your mind and trust your gut. More often than not, it will save you a ton of trouble — and money.