People / Resolutions

Mindfulness & money with Dr Ali Walker

Tilly Money Mindfulness

Dr Ali Walker believes mindfulness can be critical to helping make financial decisions that will lead to greater financial independence. In a podcast with Peter Switzer, we learnt of her impressive career that eventually led to the creation of her business.

With an undergraduate degree in Arts and Law (with Merit) from UNSW in Sydney, Ali went on to be a criminal prosecutor for a number of years before wanting to be more engaged with understanding why people do what they do (even if it’s breaking the law).

Ali then achieved a Master’s degree in International Law and International Relations and in 2013 completed her PhD at the Australian National University. These days she is a lecturer in leadership and leading change at UNSW and author of two books, as well as running AlityLife, a self-awareness platform to help people reach their highest potential.

She explains mindfulness as a particular mental state that encourages you to focus your attention in the present moment. By doing that, Ali says the present moment becomes “more alive, more enriched and more vivid.”

We want you to reach your highest potential when it comes to financial independence, so we put eight money-related questions to Dr Ali.


What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Many studies report the benefits of mindfulness as reducing stress, boosting memory, improving focus, reducing emotional reactivity, increasing cognitive flexibility and heightened relationship satisfaction.


How can these benefits encourage us to be more mindful about money?

All these benefits have a flow on effect to our finances. Mindfulness encourages us to focus our attention in the present moment rather than worrying about the past or the future. When we are focused on the present, we’re more likely to make conscious financial choices. We’re also likely to be more decisive when making financial decisions, rather than overthinking them.


If you practice being mindful, will you become a better planner?

Mindfulness gives us greater clarity in the present moment and therefore allows us to be more strategic and intentional with our time and energy. When we procrastinate and become distracted, we waste time on things that ultimately aren’t important to us.


Could practicing mindfulness help us be more confident about money?

Yes. Mindfulness is a tool that can inspire independence and self-awareness, and leave us feeling more confident about our financial decisions.


How can people use mindfulness to be better with their money?

We can be mindful with money in lots of different ways. When we’re spending money, we can bring our full awareness into the present moment, asking ourselves, ‘Is this expense filling a material or an emotional need? Is this an intentional expense?’


Do you think practicing mindfulness could make you worry less about paying bills?

Yes. It’s as simple as being mindful and non-judgmental when dealing with invoices, bills and accounts. Be present when you log into your account. Be focused. Don’t run away from your finances or avoid them. Have gratitude for the money you have in your accounts. Have gratitude for the bills — they’re a sign that you can take care of yourself.


Could you use mindfulness to shift your focus from spending to earning?

Yes. Our attitude towards spending can change if firstly we shift our attitudes toward earning. When we are thinking about finances, rather than focusing on a particular amount we want to earn, we can have a clear vision of the life we want to create.


How do you do this?

By setting goals and outlining a clear vision in regard to our wants (a house, a car, this school for our children etc.). Doing these two things should be the first step to financial consciousness and then you work backwards from your vision and understand the money you’ll need to achieve what you want.


Here are 6 practical things Dr Ali prescribed to Peter (Switzer) to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily routine:

  1. Avoid looking at your phone as soon as you wake up in the morning.
  2. Do 5-8 minutes of deep breathing/meditation in bed in the morning.
  3. When you’re in the shower, be entirely in the shower… feel the water on your back.
  4. When you’re eating a meal, taste the food.
  5. If someone says something that triggers you, ask them a question back to explain or explore what they’ve just said, rather than immediately reacting.
  6. If you associate mindfulness with an experience…bring that quality of awareness to anything you do. For example, if you have an association between swimming and relaxation, don’t just wait until you’re swimming to feel like that…You can even bring that quality of awareness to looking at what shares to buy.

This article was originally published on Tilly Money.


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