Financial stress is real, and it affects more people than you might think. CNN reports that 76% of households live paycheck-to-paycheck. Combined with growing credit card debt, many people are living beyond their means. It’s no wonder that 71% of the population cites money troubles as a major source of stress. And that stress bleeds over into relationships, emotional states, and other areas of life.
The easy answer is to *just make more money,* right? Well, not really. The stress of “not having enough” is tied to other needs and urges. Something that won’t be alleviated with making more money...it’ll actually, potentially, exacerbate the issues. Managing finances is just a matter of making a budget and sticking to it. So why is it so hard?
Becoming Minimalist has some great tips on how to address the underlying issues and put money problems to rest.
1. You need less than you think.
The downside of all this connectivity is that we think we need more to be happy when the opposite might be true. We see the best parts of people’s lives on social media, and think we need those things...vacations, new outfits, and more don’t equal happiness. Commercialization sows discontent. If you’re prone to impulse purchases, take a moment to rethink the purchase before clicking the “Checkout” button. Do you need this? Really?
2. Money doesn’t equal happiness.
It’s been confirmed by study after study. There is zero correlation between reported levels of contentment with life and income (in fact, $70K is reported as the optimal income...pretty solidly middle class). There is a layer of security that comes with having basic needs met, but beyond that? You can determine your level of need after the basics are covered.
3. Don’t let money be your ultimate goal.
The value of your work can’t be solely monetary. The connection between compensation and satisfaction is tenuous at best, and as we’ve noted above, a bigger salary--and more responsibility--won’t always make you happy. Reduce stress by viewing your work life through the lens of what you provide to others, not just what you provide for yourself.
4. The security offered by money is fleeting, at best.
Maybe it’s tied to a fear of mortality, maybe it’s comforting, or maybe it’s just the result of mass commercialization. Whatever the reason, some people love accumulating things. They buy more things, buy bigger houses to store them in, buy resources to maintain them, and work harder and longer to keep the things they’ve acquired. It’s an old saying, but the only certainty in life is that you can’t take it with you. Once you know what you need to get by, the rest becomes a little less important.
5. Money is just a tool.
Let’s break it down to basics: money is simply a tool to buy goods and services. We trade our own talents and services for this tool, which we then use to pay others who provide us with their goods and services (i.e. clothes, food, etc). It allows us to focus on our lives without having to worry about creating our own clothes and things. That’s it. That’s really it. So when we have enough, we can stop worrying about acquiring more, right?
Managing finances is simply a numbers game. You add up the amount that you need to cover your necessities every month, pay them, and use discipline not to spend outside your means. It’s overcoming the mental urge to indulge in commercialization that’s difficult, and tying worth to a dollar amount that’s damaging.