This week, the fantastic literary blog Letters of Note published a letter from John Irving to an editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. In it Irving savages the editor for asking him to write something on the theme of ‘the burdens of wealth,’ saying they are nada, especially in the context of ‘the burdens of being poor, or the burdens of just getting by.’ True. But what are the burdens of just getting by? Often, in our haste to concentrate on the actual physical manifestations of just getting by (covering expenses, coveting things you can’t afford, saving for the future), we neglect the mental health implications of thinking about money all the time. It’s a burden the wealthy don’t weather, and one that can cause much anguish for the economically disadvantaged. So how do you stop thinking/dwelling on money when it’s important to focus on money in order to manage a tight budget? Here are a few ideas:
1. Automate as much as possible. Pay bills online. Set up pre-authorized payments to your savings accounts and RRSPs.
2. Set aside a particular time each week to tackle your financial upkeep. Do all your banking and administration in that time. This doesn’t mean you should forget about your budget/financial goals the rest of the week. Put down that gold-encrusted garlic press.
3. Remember your financial goals. When you feel anxious about the present state of your funds, remember that you have a long term plan in place, and are climbing a steady path to meeting your goals, except you, guy who bought the gold-dusted garlic press.
5. Share. Money is the last taboo. Friends who talk about their most embarrassing insecurities will often shut down at the mere mention of pay stubs. Talk to close family members and friends you can trust if you find yourself dwelling on the state of your finances. Often just articulating your financial goals out loud goes a long way to dispelling anxiety.