Murk may not leave the white mustache of the old “Got Milk” ad campaign, but it does leave a fog that keeps us from seeing things we may need to see. This article’s goal is to bring a sparkle of mindful mental health about money.

Money issues can sure get murky. Sometimes it’s a challenge just trying to keep track of what is coming in and where it’s going. Then there’s all the complexities of taxes, spending, saving, fluctuating income, investments and projections of future growth or expenditures.

Add to that the sometimes unconscious meanings we’ve given to money, and the murkiness is quite impressive! Without being consciously aware of the meanings we’ve given money over our unique lifetimes, it’s impossible NOT to have a fuzzy view somewhere along the line.

Our money lives are similar to a mountain terrain scene. Typically, we’re more clear about our money in the near-view, or present picture. Even there, the details can be hidden from view by the clouds which can be costly.

This is true whether we’re living as a single person, a member of a big family, or anywhere in between. As we try to visualize the more distant future, it gets murky like the more distant mountains.

How do we clear away the murk? Seek prosperity clarity. Prosperity means a thriving condition, so it’s much more than just stashing money. Take these steps:

The first step is to focus in chunks of time. You can’t master the past, present, and future simultaneously.

The Past: The best thing to do with the past is to learn from it but not live in it. At times, the murk exists because of consequences brought on by incorrect information or money mistakes that take longer to fix than it did to make them in the first place.

If you’ve never made a money mistake, skip to an article about perfection!

Otherwise if you’re like the rest of us, keep the GEM process in mind to clear out any murkiness with your cognitive habits about money. Our thoughts guide us whether we’re conscious of them or not. Often they need some murk-clearing exercises. Use the GEM steps for that:

  1. Gather Essential Memories
  2. Gain Enlightened Meanings
  3. Generate Empowered Movement

Essential memories are those that are vivid and stand out. Ones from childhood, especially, may have left you with an inaccurate conclusion of their meaning. There are infinite examples of these about money.

Many clients who’ve done the GEM process with me are happy to share them in our newsletter.  We can all learn from the experience of others and I’m happy to have created a process that makes it easier to do on your own once you learn how to move through it.

You can uncover amazing insights by reflecting on your life experience using this structure.

Don’t forget this important sub-GEM in the process:
Graciously Embrace Mistakes.

What does that mean? It means acknowledge your mistakes and be compassionate in your correction of them. It’s not useful or productive to beat yourself up repeatedly over mistakes. Embrace the lessons they teach so they can serve to prevent a recurrence. Create your modified plan using your new and improved rules to live by.

The Present: Increase conscious awareness about our materialistic culture. Has it gotten you caught up to any degree in excess spending? Try the RIP acronym: Resist Impulse Purchases. They rip off your future security and they’re like sugar – the more you have it, the more you crave it!

Learn to discern. As basic as it sounds, it’s important to consistently discern the difference between wants and needs. Remember, frugality helps with environmental sustainability also.

The Future: If your retirement projection analysis shows a shortage in your future, change your old rules and habits to new ones to start making up that shortage. It is highly stressful to be old and out of money. That impulse buy of today, saved instead of spent could be the future plane ticket you can afford to buy to visit your new grandchild. Small money is bigger money if it’s saved for the future. You’ll need it!

Start making a written note of any item you’ve been tempted to buy on impulse. Refuse to buy it. Wait 24-48 hours and reflect on it from a true need and true affordability standpoint. Most items actually fit into the “Want” category. After a cooling off period, you can more easily Resist Impulse Purchases.

Treat your money well today so it does the same for you in the future.