In this interview series, we want to feature cool and inspiring women from all corners of the world to learn about their financial reality as well as how they navigate sustainability. Our goal is to showcase a breadth of values and practices, and how young women handle the challenges of our time.
London-based Cinthia is full of wisdom and her kindness is truly inspiring. She explains how mindfulness can be an accelerator for a more sustainable lifestyle. Above all, Cynthia's compassion and thoughtfulness is reflected in all she says and do, which might explain why she doesn't have much patience for the anxious, self-comparing fantasy world that social media can be. She'd much rather watch Friends and enjoy being present with her loved ones!
WHAT DOES SUSTAINABILITY MEAN TO YOU?
For me, sustainability means to have a life that is self-aware and knows its impact on the planet and to others. I believe we spend so much time thinking about the future: what will come next, how will my next year be like, and we don’t stop to appreciate or understand what we are doing in this very moment. Being present, to me, is directly related to sustainability. Thinking about the way you shop, the way you recycle and ultimately the way we live should be a daily exercise. This change of mindset is what could lead us to change our behaviour to be more conscient of the impact of our decisions in the world.
(WHY) IS MONEY IMPORTANT?
This is such an interesting question! I have been reading a lot about money and happiness in the past few weeks. In my opinion, money is important because it takes away the anxiety that comes with everyday life. For someone to live with the fear that your card can be declined at any moment, that you won’t be able to make ends meet at the end of the month, is an extremely stressful situation. I believe money is important because we all should be able to afford a comfortable life – whatever that means to you. Some will need more, others less, but we all need some. I guess the problem with money starts when it becomes an obsession and makes you believe that if you don’t have money your life is meaningless, which is absolutely not true!
WHAT IS YOUR MONEY STRATEGY?
I guess my most important lesson so far is to save before you spend. Most banks in the UK (and globally, I believe) allow you to set up a savings account together with your current account. I set up my checks account to send a fixed amount of money to my savings account at the beginning of the month before I start spending it, to make sure some will be saved (if you think about it we all learned this from Friends when Monica loses her job and needs to ask her parents for money and instead of helping her they ask if she’s been saving 10% of her wage!!). This will only work if you know you can pay the bills comfortably – please don’t forget to pay your bills!
DO YOU THINK INSTAGRAM AFFECTS OUR CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR AND SPENDING?
People who know me well know I’m not a fan of social media in general and one of the (many) reasons is the anxiety it gives me to shop. Even if you’re not into fashion trends or looking for the coolest new beauty trend, you will still feel as if you need a new coat or a new gadget to be happier. And the search for it begins without you even thinking if you actually need that or not. 15 min later, you have spent £100 on something you could probably live happily without. I still think social media has a negative impact in most habits we have (if you stop scrolling down so much in the evening you could probably read a book every month) but shopping is the worst. You will never feel satisfied when you are always comparing what you have with what others have. I don’t have a solution for it, I know we live in a digital world and I don’t believe being an outcast is the answer. I try to be careful when using social media, be mindful of whom I follow and think long and hard about what you are letting into your feed.
PLEASE SHARE ONE THING YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR MUM.
Everyone must say this, but I learned so much from my mom! The biggest lesson is to be kind to everyone. She used to say that when someone least deserves you to be kind is when they most need it. I look at her being nice to everyone around her in a way that is not naïve, but at the same time sounds as if she lives in a much-nicer-alternative-reality! I try to practice kindness every day and I feel like it creates a repercussion of good feelings for those around me. This is truly an actionable exercise as the world can throw terrible situations at you, but being able to think about it and choosing to be kind creates a sense of control that is quite unique.