Money. It's worried about, obsessed over, fought over and even worshipped.
Money can become an addiction like anything else. It can control your life. And to be honest, it's probably the only thing in my life that at times has become an obsession.
Let me elaborate on at last point. I am a financial advisor. I deal with people's money, their investments and the markets every day for over 20 years. At times it can literally fill every waking thought I have because it's what I do for a job. Then I come home and think about my personal finances as well. I almost never get a break. It can get to the point where I have let money control my life.
You don't want to let money control your life. We tend to obsess over money for various reasons. Sometimes it is the lack of the green demon, other times it's not knowing how to handle it. Money will dictate that you work tons of hours and exhaust yourself. Money can cause stress and health problems. I've also seen it cause incredible guilt after a client receives an inheritance.
Let me share with you how I cope, when I feel myself worrying and obsessing over money:
1. Stop comparing yourself with others. This is a really big one. I used to do it all the time. If I learned one thing in my first year as a financial planner it was that everyone is different. Situations might look similar, but people are different. It is natural to compare yourself to other. We do it all the time with our appearance as well as our symbols of status. With money, no one is in the same situation. STOP COMPARING! You don't know the other persons complete situation. They may just appear to have it all, when in reality may be in crippling debt.
2. Be content. This one is incredibly hard for me. I am naturally an over-achiever type. I always strive for more. That's good except when it hurts your relationships and health. If you're reading this, you probably have not missed a meal. Right? So things aren't as bad as you think. Take inventory of all the things you have right now. If something isn't what you want, then just make do and buy it later. Be happy with the car, the house and the possessions you have right now.
3. Material "things" will not make you happy. I wrote an article about a paper I helped my daughter with recently. It was about Money Can't Buy Happiness. As I've gotten older, this one has been far easier to keep my obsessions to a limit. Oh, I still buy a few toys from time to time. I'm super selective and I ask myself, "will this truly help me or make me happy long-term?" If not, then don't buy it.
4. Only deal with your finances once a month. I know this may sound odd at first. Handling personal finances once a month is a great idea, and it is how I do it. At the beginning of the month, I transfer enough money to my checking account to pay all my monthly bills. Doesn't matter what the due date is to me. I pay it. I'm done with it till next month. This is also the time I look at my savings, debts, retirement and progress. It keeps me from constantly worrying about money and due dates. It also cuts down on the obsessive behavior. Give it a try.
5. It's ok to splurge. Every once in a while it's okay to splurge a bit. If you truly need it or you've been really good about staying on track, then it is probably ok to spend some. That keeps you from obsessing over money again, because you have given yourself permission to accept a little reward. The point here is to not be so restrictive with budgeting and rules that you never buy something that actually will make you happy. Who the heck wants to live like that? Wondering what a financial advisor splurges on? Last week it was a new wallet! No kidding!
These are just a few coping mechanisms or tips that helped me stop obsessing over money. A few weren't so easy. Who wants to live a life of constant stress and worry over money, bills and material things? Live for your relationships and things that matter to you.
What ever the issues you have with money currently, I'm confident a few, if not all of these, will help you. Give them a try and let me know. If this article helped you, share it with a friend.
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