I’ll readily admit that I think about money a lot. Not just money, but a variety of factors that involve money, including savings, bargains, investments and general frugality. It’s not as if simply driving by a billboard showcasing a glittering black diamond engagement ring causes me to involuntarily pull over and search for good deals on my smartphone. It’s more that I see life as a division between time and labor—using the present to prepare for the future and using mental work to prevent being forced into a life of excessive physical work. Work smart, not hard—if time is money you still need a good rate.
One way to balance life and money is to not let small expenses ruin your day. There was a time when getting a parking ticket or a late fee on a credit card payment would have left me completely sour, destroying any chance for me to experience happiness that day. Presently, I’ve learned to compartmentalize things by remembering what I sometimes call the “random fund”.
The random fund is small cache of money I mentally set aside that is used to pay for all the little random things life can throw at you. A flat tire, a cavity filling, a parking ticket—these things come about randomly but are certain to happen in one form or another. These are the breaks, the cost of living. No matter how much foresight you practice, random setbacks will inevitably come about and cost you a few bucks. Prepare for this by setting aside a small amount each month for your random fund. This way, when you drop your cell phone and have to spend $50 or more getting the screen fixed, you can say “oh well, it’s coming out of the random fund.” It can totally reset a suddenly crappy day.
Another way to balance life and money is reformulate how you enjoy your free time. If you’re between jobs and yet your favorite pastime is still drinking Grey Goose martinis in between golf holes, you may be living a bit beyond your means. Maybe you should switch to Pabst Blue Ribbon and table tennis. Or better yet, lemonade.
The point is, don’t let your preset sources of enjoyment send you to the poorhouse just because you’re too lazy to change. While you shouldn’t let money concerns get in the way of your happiness, you also shouldn’t let indulgences get in the way of financial responsibility. It’s not just about you, remember. Think about your wife and kids, or if you don’t have a wife and kids, think about your future wife and kids. If time is money, the future pays dividends.
Guest Post by Melissa