Have you ever heard someone say: As soon as I start earning more money, I’ll be happier or As soon as I pay off ___ I’ll be a in a much better situation. Have you ever thought like this yourself?
Just earlier this year, I used to think that paying off all my debt and reaching financial stability would make me a happier person. A few short months ago, I started to realize that this would not be the case. Yes, I did and do still want to become debt free one day in the near future, but I am not depending on it for my happiness and overall wellness.
When I submit my last debt payment, I don’t expect a disco ball to drop from the ceiling or a mariachi band to bust through the door and start dancing around my room.
I imagine life will still go on. I will be faced with new challenges and decisions along with my next major goal to tackle.
Just because being in debt made me angry, upset, tired and annoyed at times, doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of debt will make me feel the opposite each and every day. I choose to get out of debt so I can improve my finances but I don’t expect it to make me happier in the long run. My happiness and well-being will depend on how I decide to live my life.
This is why it’s so important to know how to balance your goals for your finances with your happiness and overall wellness. Sometimes something doesn’t always have to give. You can definitely find balance by following some of these simple principles.
Don’t Get Too Frugal
Frugality is a great thing. It truly is best to focus on being resourceful by using what you have and valuing people and experiences over things. However, I feel like frugality is best when it isn’t forced and it’s practiced as a choice rather than a necessity.
There is such a thing as being ‘too frugal’ and everyone has their own personal limits. For example, there are certain things I like to save money on like my housing expenses, my cell phone bill, and not having cable. These are areas of my budget are still important to me, but I’d prefer to sacrifice and not spend a lot of money in these areas. I’m perfectly happy with not having cable and watching less of my favorite shows. It doesn’t bother me at all.
On the other hand, there are certain expenses that I like to spend money on in moderation that help make my life easier, like my car. My car cost me a fortune this year because I was paying it off, but if I didn’t have any transportation, my entire daily schedule and work-life balance would fall apart.
If I decided to be uber frugal, I could get rid of it and try my luck with public transportation to save money, but that would end up wasting a lot of time and energy and not to mention make me frustrated at times and put me in a bad mood. Public transportation in my area is all over the place and it could easily increase my daily commute by 2-3 hours. Not to mention, I would have to rely on others to help get me from point A to point B.
It’s important to know your limits when it comes to frugality and be comfortable with spending less on the things that don’t matter as much and spending consciously on the things that do, to create a healthy balance.
Do Work You Love
Often times, passion has little to do with the workplace. I’ve run across many people who make good money so they can meet all their needs, but at the end of the day, they are unhappy and stressed out.
Burning yourself out at work and getting overtime can be great for your finances and help accelerate your progress towards your goals, but it can be horrible for your health and your outlook on life each day.
If you aren’t doing work that you love, enjoy and take pride in, you run the risk of getting burnt out, dealing with health issues and feeling depressed.
If you have to work 40 hours per week, you might as well be doing something worthwhile so you don’t have to dread each day and drag yourself out of bed.
I know it’s easier said than done, but you can start exploring some other options if you are unhappy at work, like starting a side business, reaching out to your network for job leads or searching for another job and lining up some interviews.
Set Your Priorities
In order to balance your health, happiness and finances, you need to determine what your priorities are and give up trying to do everything. Your health should always be number one.
Then, you’ll need to determine to what lengths are you willing to go to in order to improve your finances. If paying off debt or saving up for a home means working 60+ hour weeks for 3 years straight, assess the positive and negative effects of your plan and develop a strong support system to help you meet your goal and prevent you from burning out.
If you would rather have less money in your pocket and more time to spend with family and your kids, you’ll probably need to make more sacrifices in other areas of your life in order to focus on what makes you happiest. This may include, having a tighter budget, saying ‘no’ to going on certain outings with friends and skipping vacations in the summer.
The balance is all about determining what you’d rather have, because in most cases you can’t have it all. When you know your frugality limits, start enjoying the work you do, and determine and prioritize what you really want, you’ll start to improve your overall mood and outlook on life while still being able to make progress with your finances.
How are you balancing your finances with your overall happiness and well-being? Do you feel like money can have a direct impact on your happiness long-term?