How many stress filled, sleepless nights do you spend worrying about money?
by Trent Hamm (thesimpledollar.com) – Not too long ago, I was having a conversation with an old friend about life, the universe, and everything. We talked about career choices, our recent and upcoming travels, our families, and many other topics.
At one point, when the conversation briefly touched on money issues, I made an offhand comment about how my hope was that I could stop working at about age 45 as I hope to have enough money in the bank by then so that I no longer have to work for money if I don’t want to.
After about 10 seconds of silence, he dropped that little bombshell that makes up the title of this article.
“You shouldn’t go through life worrying about money. It’s not healthy.”
And we moved on to other topics.
Not surprisingly, that little statement stuck in the back of my mind. Worrying about money? Really?
I worry about money right now less than I ever have in my entire life.
The time in my life when I genuinely worried the most about money was in 2006, when I was practically drowning in debt. I was almost ill with stress at times. As I mentioned before, I stayed up at nights stressing out about money. Sarah and I constantly got into strenuous discussions and arguments about money.
As we started to take control of our finances, our worry started to melt away. We got rid of debts and I started The Simple Dollar and, eventually, we bought a house.
We thought more about money, but we worried a lot less about it.
Right now, we have no debts. If either one of us became dissatisfied with our work, either one of us could change career paths or go back to school without any real stress. I’m completely confident that there is almost no scenario in which my children would have to go without anything that they might need or want.
What is there to worry about regarding money right now?
Of course, one could simply say that when my friend was talking about “worrying about money,” he was simply referring to “thinking about money.”
Well, here’s another shocker: Aside from my professional needs regarding The Simple Dollar, I think less about money than I ever have in my adult life.
My investment strategy is on autopilot. I almost never think about it.
My buying habits are well under control. I almost never even think about wasteful purchases. I just walk on by 99% of the stuff I would have considered buying just a few years ago.
I don’t have to wonder about whether we have money when there’s an important and urgent expense. I just pay for it and fix up any problems later on.
I just don’t think about money very much. I don’t need to.
Of course, one could simply say that when my friend was talking about “worrying about money,” he was simply referring to “having fun by spending money.”
Again, that doesn’t make any sense. I pretty much do everything I actually want to do in life.
To me, a truly happy day is one where I do something fun with my children and have an hour or two just to hang out with my wife. It might involve doing something with my friends, but what exactly we do isn’t really important – I actually enjoy dinner parties and game nights. I enjoy curling up with a good book – I don’t have to own it, a library book is fine. I enjoy playing one of the board games we have on our shelves. I like making stuff, especially food items. I like wandering around state parks and hiking on trails. I’m in a few community groups and I like doing activities with those groups.
Those elements, in some combination, make for a pretty good day for me. Almost none of those things require me to spend much money at all.
What about “special treats”? If there’s a special treat that I want, I buy it. The thing is, I really don’t want many “special treats.” I’m pretty happy with what I have and don’t really want more.
In the end, the only way that this question makes sense is if I assume that my friend simply has the wrong idea about personal finance success. He must believe that having a personal finance plan is worrying and miserable in some fashion.
The thing is, I think I know what he’s talking about.
Let’s roll the clock back to where I was back in, say, 2005. During that period before I hit financial bottom but while I was making a lot of spending mistakes, I did worry a little about money. In fact, I wrote an article about that very thing, entitled “September 23, 2005.” I highly encourage you to give it a read.
At that time, I didn’t really think too much about money as I was spending it. I wanted stuff, I spent money on it, I moved on with life. Sometimes, though, I would step back and look at my overall financial state and it would really worry me. I couldn’t see a path from where I was at to where I wanted to be.
However, I was keeping my head above water – kind of – so I’d usually try to step away from those worries. Those kinds of worries were the…
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