3 Financial Zen Principles You Must Apply in Your Life

When you hear the word Zen? What comes into your mind?

Is it a relaxed garden with a koi pond where you can sit back while drinking tea?

Is it a black and white painting so simple yet so profound?

Or is it a monk meditating for days in pursuit of self-actualization?

Zen Buddhism, or more commonly known as Zen, is a philosophy that aims to achieve “enlightenment” through meditation.

A Zen Master aims to live each moment of his life to the fullest even upon the time of his death.

Of course there is more to Zen than the two sentences I wrote above but my objective in writing this article is not to convert you to be a zen practitioner but to help you achieve Financial Freedom through the following 3 Zen Principles.

Principle #1: Less is More

We were raised in a society where the more the better.

There is a misconception that the more you have the richer you are.

If you have the latest gadgets and the trendiest outfits, you belong to the upper echelons of society.

One car is not enough. You should have a coding car, a family car, a sports car, and off-track car.

One house is not enough. You should have a rest house, a cabin house, and a condominium.

The Principle of Zen “Less is More” begs to differ on what society tells us that the more the better.

Having all of these things is not bad as long as it is essential.

Do you really need all those gadgets, clothing, cars, and properties?

If you need things to boost your confidence and self-worth, then you are wasting money.

Confidence and self-worth starts from within: the internal and not the external.

You don’t need 5 cars if you are only 3 in the family.

You don’t need a lot of houses, you need a HOME.

Having all these things doesn’t make you rich. It just shows other people that you are pretending to be rich.

The measurement of wealth is not the things that you have but the things you have in net value.

In personal finance, we call this NET WORTH.

NET WORTH = Assets – Liabilities

NET WORTH = Things you OWN – Things that you OWE

If all the things that you own is financed by debt resulting to a negative net worth then you are not really rich.

You are just showing off. You are living beyond your means

And it will come to a point that your cash flow can no longer sustain your lifestyle and all you have will be foreclosed, repossessed, and forfeited.

Spend on things that are essential. Things that you really need.

You don’t only save money but you also save time, space, and stress.

Less things => less debt => less maintenance => less cost => less space occupied => less stress.

Always go back to the objective on why are you buying a thing.

Ask this question: will this make me richer or poorer?

But don’t get me wrong: if you have the money, you can pay in cash, and you have all your finances settled and planned for, enjoy your money and buy the things that you want.

But I believe, if you apply the principle of less is more, you will be only buying what is essential.

Because in this age and technology things can always be rented such as through UBER and Airbnb.

Renting a private island and private jet is still cheaper than owning one. You don’t need to worry about the cost, space, and stress of maintaining it.

Principle # 2: Focus on the Process

Zen monks can meditate for days without eating and drinking.

They are so focused on achieving the end goal that physical pain doesn’t bother them.

In the pursuit of Financial Freedom, we should remain faithful to the process of budgeting, paying off debts, saving, and investing.

The process is not a way to deprive you of the joys of life.

It is a way of aligning yourself to your goals.

It is not deprivation if you are living within your means.

It is not deprivation if it means saving your future self from mountains of debt and work slavery.

If you want to increase your lifestyle, increase your income first.

Don’t increase your lifestyle through debt.

Again go back to Principle #1: Less is More.

Ask if it is essential.

If it is, then find ways to increase your income in order to afford it.

Principle #3: the Meaning of Life Is to Be Alive

Money is not an end in itself.

It is a only a tool for us to achieve our dreams.

What ignites you in doing your best everyday in your work or business is not the money but your WHY.

Why are you doing what you are doing?

On the other hand, don’t fall to the trap of being a cheap stingy person.

Your money is there to be enjoyed provided as stated in Principles 1 and 2 that it is within your means and you already have a solid financial foundation.

What’s the point of having all the money in the world if it will just rot in a vault. You can’t take it with you in the afterlife.

What’s the point of having lots of money and your family suffers?

That’s why when you are creating a budget, you should include in it a play fund.

Here are the links about budgeting and play fund:

Live Each Moment to the Fullest

Like a Zen Master who aims to live each moment of his life to the fullest, enjoy every bit of the process.

Enjoy the highs and survive and learn from the lows.

Just remember these 3 Financial Zen Principles:

  • Less is More
  • Focus on the Process
  • The Meaning of Life is to Be Alive

Your Millennial Wealth Planner,

Harold Q. Gardon, CWP, CEPP


How do you find the article? Do you have any questions? Please feel free to message me if you want me to discuss a particular topic or if you are seeking financial advice.

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