Freedom from Financial Stress

The truth is, the why is more important than the how.

If you have a strong enough reason to want something, you’ll figure out how to get it. If I just tell you to do some push-ups to see how many you can do, you’ll do a few. Now if someone puts a gun to your head and demands you do more than you think you can, the situation is different, isn’t it? Now maybe you can do more than a few.

You don’t have a gun to your head. Nothing about your spending is going to kill you right now (at, least hopefully not.) But let’s talk for a minute about stress and how it affects you. And we’re going to talk about stress because, really, once you’ve got your basic living expenses covered, the biggest thing money can buy is relief from stress. And too many of us spend money on everything except that!

Stress affects your physical health. It’s linked to too many long-term illnesses to name, particularly heart ailments. And it affects your health right here and right now, contributing to everything from stomach aches, to migraines, to a weakened immune system. It also affects your mental health, and can lead directly to anxiety and indirectly to depression.

A stress-free life is a happy life
A stress-free life is a happy life.

Perhaps the worst thing about stress is that it affects your decision making. We make worse decisions when we are tired, hungry and stressed out. And speaking of being tired, stress definitely gets in the way of proper sleep.

We know now that we suffer more when we think something bad might happen than we do when we know something bad will happen. When we know something bad will happen, we adjust. We do something about it. And our brain files away the information and moves on to the actions we’re taking. But when we merely worry that something bad might happen, our brains never stop mulling over all the possibilities. This is deeply unhealthy, and financial stress is either the first or second leading cause of stress and uncertainty.

Here is something interesting about happiness. Most researchers believe that happiness and unhappiness are actually two separate things. You can have a lot of happiness but also a lot of unhappiness, or you can have very low levels of both. Of course you can have a lot of happiness and very little unhappiness, which is what we’re all aiming for. The things that produce happiness include physical affection, associations with friends, doing what we love, exercise, etc. Unhappiness is caused by physical pain, isolation, loneliness, depression, constant noise, and, of course, stress.

Here is something interesting to note. Money doesn’t buy much happiness. Mostly, it buys relief from unhappiness! In other words, maybe money can’t buy happiness, but being broke sure can buy a lot of unhappiness. As a direct result, we will be better off if we let money do what it can do for us, eliminate stress, and stop asking money to buy us things it can’t.

rent is even higher
Yep, it’s this guy again! Reminding you that you’ve got to cut those monthly expenses.

So once you get your spending under control, don’t do what everyone else does. Don’t let your lifestyle cost go up every time your income goes up. Don’t live according to your status. Live according to your goals. Be honest with yourself, no judging, and complete the following phrase on your own terms. “A rich life is…”

Move towards that.

Next up: Your Deep Values

Previously: A Smarter Budget

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