I had an interesting conversation with BF the other day, when I confessed that I often stress about money. Like, on a daily basis. And it got even worse when I lost my job in February.
No matter how many times I run the numbers on retirement, or go through my budget, I always have this sinking feeling that what I’m doing isn’t enough. But you know what? It is enough. This recent unemployment stint has been my third in an 8 year career. And each time, I’ve come out of it with a better job, and a more positive attitude. Sure, my finances have taken a few setbacks over the years, but losing out on 2 months of RRSP contributions isn’t going to affect my retirement. Worrying about every dollar I make/spend, and over-analyzing how I’m going to advance my career is not productive and just leads to stress and anxiety.
It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t the money that I was specifically stressed out about, it was what that money represented. To me, having money means the opportunity to save money. And saved money means having a good future, being able to provide for my family, and living out my retirement without worrying about money. Not having money, or not having the amount of money I perceive to be acceptable causes instant alarm bells and panic. Like when I lose a job, or when I think I might be stuck career-wise.
Reading Preet Banerjee’s book, “Stop Over-Thinking Your Money!” has actually really helped. Deep down, I know all I need to do is keep it simple; spend less than I earn, carry no high interest debt, avoid lifestyle inflation, etc. So if I know what I need to do, and for the most part, I’m doing it, why am I always freaking out?
I often refer back to an article I read a while ago to calm me down. In this article, it said that happiness is a $75,000 salary. It says that while happiness doesn’t seem to have an impact on your day to day mood, it definitely impacts the feelings you have about the way your life is going. And it’s true. The article always reminds me that I should be grateful for what I have. Because overall, I am really satisfied with my quality of life. I’m able to save for retirement, travel, pay my mortgage, and have fun at the same time. I have an amazing boyfriend, and friends and family to count on.
Truthfully, if I never make more than I’m making right now (adjusted for inflation of course), I would be okay with that. Sure, I’d like to earn more (and I hope that I do), but I don’t see my quality of life improving at all. It would just stay the same, and I would be happy. :)
So I’m going to consciously try not to stress out about money on a day-to-day basis. There is no need for it, and I’ve proven that to myself over and over again. I really will achieve all of the financial goals I want for myself. It just takes time. And patience is one of the best qualities to have in life.
Do you ever stress out about money? How do you cope with that stress?
The days leading up to my first day at the new job were full of anxiety. Sure, I was excited to be starting, but at the same time I’ve been putting an incredible amount of pressure on myself. I want to do well at my job, and I want to succeed. I want to save money, and retire comfortably. I want to travel, and live stress-free with that special someone. Turning 32 later this year has really scared me. I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be at this age, and while I know that the chances of settling down and retiring somewhat comfortable are pretty good, I still can’t help but stress out about where my career will be in 5 years, if my retirement accounts will be where I want them to be, and how I’ll know when I’m ready to do all the adult things all my friends seem to be up to.
I think we’ve all felt like this at some point before. It’s normal. And when I get those feelings, I just need to take a step back and evaluate all the positives I have in my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we don’t have, or what we want to have… instead of what we do have. :)
As for the first few days at the job? Well they’ve been great so far. It’s weird to be working within a marketing team – I’ve been so used to working by myself over the last few years, and I missed this team atmosphere we have going on. I imagine the next few weeks will be filled with trying to remember the names of people around the office, getting comfortable with the different tasks I’m given, and figuring out how I can best contribute based on my skill set.
I was unemployed just long enough to receive one EI payment, and that actually happened yesterday. So that means I went 40 days between when I lost my job, and when I got my first payment. I was worried it would take a lot longer than that – the first time I applied for EI it took 11 weeks! The $408 I received isn’t a lot, but it’s definitely welcomed. And I’m actually pretty pleased that I got through my entire unemployment without having to touch my Emergency Fund! Granted, I likely won’t get paid until mid-April, so there’s still a chance I might have to use that cash if I can’t make up the difference with my freelancing.
Speaking of freelancing, I’ve had a pretty good few days. I received a $750 payment, and have billed out for an additional $1,450 just this week. I likely won’t receive those payments by the end of March, but at least it’s putting me on the right track for a decent April. :)
Anyway, that’s the update in my world!
Every January, most of us make some sort of resolution. Maybe we want to get out of debt, save more money, lose weight, learn a new skill – whatever it is, coming up with these goals is never the issue. It’s sticking to them that’s hard to accomplish.
And it’s about this time – mid February – where our enthusiasm has slightly faded, and maybe that awesome idea we had of signing up for a marathon, learning how to speak French, or not eating out as often anymore has gotten a little old.
I’m definitely guilty of making goals for myself in the past that I end up ignoring, or have no intention of keeping. So every winter when I decide what I want to accomplish for the upcoming year, I try to choose my goals based on these guidelines:
- Choose realistic goals. One of the biggest mistakes most people make is choosing unrealistic goals. For example, if your annual income is $40,000, it’s not realistic to want to pay off $35,000 worth of debt in one year. It’s important to set your sights high, but only if you aren’t setting yourself up for failure in the process.
- Be specific. The reason why you want to be as specific as possible in your goal, is because you will know exactly what you have to do to – and when you have achieved it. Instead of saying “I want to put more money into my RRSPs this year,” try creating a specific goal by saying, “I want to put $250 from each pay cheque into my RRSP this year.” This gives you a clear task to accomplish, instead of something a lot more vague.
- Create a plan. Resolving to change something in your life is the first step, but you need to create a plan to achieve your goal. I’m absolutely guilty of skipping this step. Last year, my goal was to increase my income… but because I didn’t create a plan to help me achieve that goal, I didn’t even come close. So for example, if your goal is to save at least two months’ worth of expenses, how will you go about doing that? Figure out how much money you will need to save, and divide that amount by the number of pay cheques you will receive during 2013. Then, set up automatic withdrawals from your chequing account each time you get paid. Taking the time to create a simple plan will ensure that you have a much higher probability of achieving your goals.
- Tell other people about your goals. This is the reason why I started this blog! Telling friends and family members about what you hope to achieve makes your goals become real. The people you care about the most will be able to hold you accountable to your goals and provide support along the way. It might be a good idea to try to find someone in your life that has a similar goal. Working together provides motivation and provides a sense of camaraderie.
- Review your goals often. Take the time to review your goals on a weekly and monthly basis. This will help you stay focused on achieving your goals, and help you figure out what strategies are working for you – and what aren’t. BF likes to use markers on his bathroom mirror to write down his goals. It forces him to review what he wants in life every single day, and I think that’s really helpful when it comes to staying on track.
- Have patience. Achieving big things doesn’t just happen over night. It can be easy to get discouraged right away, but that’s when most people tend to give up and fall back into old habits. Anytime we work to change something in our lives, we are bound to stumble along the way – so have patience. Don’t give up if you don’t see progress right away. It will come in time.
In order to be successful with whatever you want in life, you have to be motivated. Decide what your most important goals are, and spend your energy trying to accomplish those things.