Before exiting this blog or questioning its relevance, my flexibility and the madness entangled in the pose above, consider this:
The body that formed that shape (which, by the way, is called Mermaid pose or eka pada rajakapotasana in Sanskrit) started contorting, training and shaping at age 6 and continued to do so for decades; it is a pose that even some veterans yogis will never master because their anatomy simply won't allow it; and truth be told, it isn't a very relaxing one to hold. Not at least for any period of time.
Just as the underlying work that required me to arrive at that particular pose was over a long period and through regular practice as a professionally trained dancer and later yogi, personal finance goals are only achieved after some time. The personal finance equivalent of master poses i.e. getting that first home deposit together, paying off the mortgage, and building a $1 million portfolio, are the product of systematic, consistently applied behaviours and strategies over time.
In yoga philosophy, Sadhana is considered essential.
Effectively, this is a daily spiritual practice. It isn't just asana (that's the physical practice of yoga); but includes other spokes that turn the wheel of progress. It would include meditation, journalling, nature walks, affirmations, breathing exercises, and gratitude.
Many people assume that yoga (at least the Western face) is all about the downward-facing dogs and, more recently, the yoga pants and, Instagram shots in the lycra. However, the physical practice is really just a warm-up for the deeper stuff, like pranayama and meditation.
So you may be thinking at this stage, "I think I've come to the wrong place; I just want to make more money."
Listen, you don't need to do yoga to become rich, although I wholeheartedly advocate it for all its benefits.
My point is that building financial well-being requires a similar process and habit as what yoga guru prescribes for their students in Sadhana. It requires a daily practice of mindfulness and habits.
Meditation is a good start, if you want to crib a page from the yoga handbook.
Not so you can meditate your way to a new Mercedes but to clear the clutter and maybe even the delusion that you'll be happier driving one, although maybe you will?
Only you know your mind. One thing is for sure though, meditation will help you to get to know it better, your mind, that is.
Don't be deterred or daunted if you're a beginner or have never tried it. It can feel incredibly frustrating until you get a little more established. The benefits are worth enduring. Do it for a minimum of 3-5 minutes a day for a month, and see for yourself what changes take place.
For encouragement and or research sake, I recommend watching Stanford University Professor Andrew Huberman's YouTube talk on the neuroscience of meditation here. In five months, it has had almost 2 million views. There are some great learnings there.
Meditation helps tame the crazy in us all and, over time, helps to get traffic flowing more freely in the brain's neural networks. That can lead to clarity, creativity, inspiration and a pleasant escape from the chatter.
All of that is good in personal finance or any other sphere of your life, I reckon.
Knowing what you want to accomplish and why, how you'll get there, tracking your goals and insights as you reach them, and or understanding what is standing in the way or sabotaging your progress is part of that.
A financial Sadhana could include those things in the form of journals, reflections, checks and balances and a higher rate of engagement with some of your apps or financial obligations.
Having those cornerstone habits will set you up for success. Again, it doesn't have to be huge. Start small and build up your base. Whatever that base is.
Extra Reading and Resources:
Best Meditation Apps reviewed: New York Times
Billionaire Ray Dalio credits his success to 40 minutes of meditation a day, CNBC
10 Best Books on Mindfulness: Business Insider
Mind over Money: Yoga & Meditation help this money manager remain mentally fit: The Economic Times.
Meditating on Money: The Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Charity is a core pillar in the world of personal finance.
Many famous personal finance gurus, including Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor. Dad fame and Dave Ramsey follow a tithing system, where they give away 10% of their wealth. Some religious organisations suggest you should do this too but in this case their charity is self-directed, so not pointed at a religious institution.
If you can afford to give away 10% of your annual income, which goes to a good cause(s), great.
If you can do more, even better. If you can't, well that's okay too.
As I write in my book, generosity comes in many forms.
You can gift your time, talent, knowledge, unused assets, patience and kindness. Heck, you can even donate your body to science when you die. What else are you going to do with it?
For over a decade now, I have been gifting regularly, giving money each month to three different charities in addition to many one-offs. My dear dad has adopted a diversified gifting strategy and donates to 52 other charities, one for each week of the year. Dad has great karma.
I give in other ways as a volunteer and through my KiwiSaver investments with Simplicity KiwiSaver. The latter isn't much on an individual basis, but as an aggregate, the 140k plus members have donated more than $5 million, which shows all those dollars and cents add up when bundled together.
But enough with the virtue signalling, and down to business.
If you donate to charity, it is now easier than ever to claim a Government rebate on a portion of it.
As long as you give to a registered charity, you're eligible to get 33.33% of it back. You can regift that portion to the charity, or another one, or to someone who could use it more than you i.e your kids!
It used to be much more complicated process.
You had to download paper forms, print them, and return to via post to Lower Hutt with all those paper receipts, assuming you kept them.
I've blogged about the process before but here's another recap if you missed it.
Filter through your email by date and find all the electronic tax receipts from the tax year April 1, 2022 - March 31, 2023. If you didn't get one in by email, you might have to request one from the charity or take a photo of the one you received in the post.
Login MyIR. If you still need an account, create one immediately. This is how those cost of living cheques found people and their bank accounts. You can have one registered against your account.
At the top of the summary page, you'll see a section called Donation Tax Credit. Click Enter Donation Tax Receipts. That will take you through uploading the Tax Receipts for each charity. You'll have to enter the charity name, amount and GST# or registered charity number, but all of that should be on the receipts you dug up.
Instruct IRD whether to regift those amounts you have claimed or add your bank details to get it back in your account. Only one person in the family can claim the rebate, so don't double dip here.
Remember that school donations also count, so get that paperwork from your school.
Every little bit counts, now more than ever.
Amanda is a personal finance specialist and published author based in Auckland, New Zealand. She is also a certified meditation and yoga instructor which informs her teachings on financial wellness.