Between writing money-related articles, teaching Financial Fitness classes to adults and teenagers and counseling homeowners in danger of foreclosure, sometimes I get tired of money! Beyond all of these venues, to really be honest, I get tired of all of the things in my own life that are constantly posturing for my attention in the form of money (house repairs, cars, vacations—yes, we did just take a vacation…but I’m ready for a vacation!). There are those times when it seems like the easiest thing to do would be to just spend all of our money so that we didn’t need to make any more decisions about where it should go! After all, it’s just money, right?
Of course, that’s my tiredness speaking. On this blog, we’ve already mentioned in a couple of different articles that the constant pressure to make decisions between many options can wear a person down more than we often realize. We get into a mindset where making any decision could be hazardous to our health! Who cares! I’ll just spend all of my money! Or in the dieting realm, Who cares! I’ll just eat 14 moon pies with frosting spread on top! (don’t think for a second that I haven’t tried spreading frosting on cookie dough and eating it – it’s not something I’m proud of – given the chance, however, I’d probably do it again…).
Pretty much anytime our thought process begins with who cares!…it’s probably a sign that we are mentally fatigued and not in a great position to make healthy decisions. Proceed with caution!
My plan was to write this article on ‘how money is just money and we cannot let it become an obsession or in any way the end of our efforts‘. I was recalling numerous instances when unexpected repairs came up that busted our budget and we took deep breaths and said, it’s just money. This really is a good perspective when life happens, and it is the reason why we work so hard on setting money aside. If there were never unexpected expenses, there would be no reason to make an emergency savings account a priority.
That all being said, however, I think some level of mental fatigue is driving my it’s just money attitude right now, and it’s probably a little more honest to reflect on that side of the it’s just money coin in this article. While accepting (and even greatly emphasizing) that money is absolutely not the meaning of life, nor is it close to it, there is no avoiding the fact that money is a major resource that we are entrusted to steward in our lives. There is a responsibility that we have to ourselves and others when it comes to money, just as there is with life’s other major resources, such as time, talents, energy, life itself, etc. Any time we say it’s just money or it’s just time, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to evaluate what is driving that thought. Is it a moment of true, greater perspective, or is it just fatigue or laziness?
How we handle money is important because it reflects our character, just as the way that we handle other resources is a reflection of our character. When it comes to stewarding our resources, in many senses we are never off of the job. Even the act of taking a vacation, or even a retreat (something that I highly recommend and never do), it is a reflection of our stewardship. I believe that both of these represent positive forms of stewardship, when done in a way that complements our other priorities and obligations.
One of the reasons that some form of financial planning and accountability (in the form of tracking expenses and periodic meetings) is so important is that it gives us the opportunity to intentionally define our priorities and to continuously steer our financial ship toward these priorities. Taking an absolute stance of never allowing for impulse decisions allows us to be sure that we have had the opportunity to evaluate every decision in light of our goals. After all, if I’m really going to believe something, I should believe it 100% of the time. The constant acts of planning and evaluating provides consistency insurance. If there is one thing I want to model to my daughter and to others who have the opportunity to observe my life, it is consistency of beliefs and convictions. I do not want to model that when enough circumstances compound, Papa throws in the towel and eats a bowl of cookie dough and frosting!
All right, so where am I going with this? I have a couple of applications in mind:
The first is simply that we all be conscious of evaluating our states of mind. It’s important to get good at recognizing (being honest enough to recognize) when we are in a bit of a vulnerable position regarding decision-making. Yes, it is just money, but, a cliff is also just a cliff. The better we are at recognizing mental (and will-power) fatigue, the better we will be at avoiding some of those decisions that we regret for anywhere from a few minutes to several years.
The second is that we make sure to plan for indulgences. The way to completely misunderstand what I am talking about is to assume that I think we should never have down moments or eat cookie dough with frosting. The key is recognizing that we all need some form of periodic indulgences. They may need to be small, inexpensive indulgences, but they need to be there. A wise household will recognize that these are needed and will be proactive in planning them rather than reactive when all the stress, fatigue and circumstances finally catch up. When you plan ahead for the indulgences and recognize their legitimacy and importance, you avoid the guilt and regret that is often felt after doing the same thing on impulse.
Finally, rather than letting blown plans lead to what the heck decisions, try and be diligent to calmly make new plans based on the new set of circumstances. Our kids should grow up understanding that their plans will not always play out how they had hoped. We also want them to learn appropriate ways to deal with this reality (i.e. not throw a tantrum and whine about how stuff like this never happens to anyone else). When the car breaks down unexpectedly, it could mean changing the timeframe of some other financial goals that you are working for. Time to revise the plans!
Money is just money. Time is just time. Life is just life. There are things that are actually more important than all of these. Even so, we want to do the best we can in managing these resources and modeling health, balance, and maturity to our little ones.
How do you work indulgences and refreshment into your plans?
This post is linked to Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist, Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, Mentoring Mama’s Monday Link Up at Simply Living For Him, Better Mom’s Monday Link Up at The Better Mom, Seasonal Celebrations at The Natural Mother’s Network, Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, WLWW Link Up Party at Women Living Well