I realized the other day my biggest WHY of personal finance: no stress.
Why do I clip coupons and try to match them to sales? Why is it so important to me to have an emergency fund? Why do I want to save part of every paycheck for "just in case"? Why did I live on a cash-only envelope system budget for years? Why did we buy half as much house as the bank said we could afford? Why do I try not to spend money on unnecessary stuff, even if it would be nice to have?
It wasn't so that Peanut and I could build a fancy nest egg and retire at 45. We like our chosen fields and we'd be bored with nothing to do. It's not so we could go on fancy vacations every year. It's not so we could ultimately buy All The Nice Things. It's not even so we can send our kid to college (we're not sure we want to pay her full tuition - working your own way builds character!).
It's because I'm the type of person who really needs to not be stressed out about money.
I handle stress pretty well in general, I think. I mean, a lot of it I internalize and stress about and maybe sometimes I cry in the corner of the bathroom in the dark for no apparent reason (ahem). But in emergencies, or Big Deal Stressful Life Experiences like having a child in the NICU, I do not freak out. I stay calm, I identify what needs to get done, and I make sure it happens. I am the queen of lists and reading all the books on the subject to have a well-rounded picture of the situation.
But if I had to worry about money on top of everything else, I would probably lose it. And that's the underlying reason why I am a sort-of obsessive saver, an underspender, and ultimately a personal finance blogger. Stressful life situations are bad enough, why add money worries on top of it?
Here are the things I am not worried about right now:
- Making the mortgage payment or putting food on the table. Peanut and I built a life that can survive on one income (we based it off of his income, when we probably should have based it off my [lower] income, but mine was more likely to be in danger at some point anyway).
- Paying Baby M's medical bills. I will never complain about our health insurance company again. I was sad when I found out that they didn't cover infertility treatment and I thought I would need it, but in all other respects I could not be happier that we chose the company we did. They are covering everything for Baby M's care after the deductible, and let me tell you: she is going to be a literal million-dollar baby. By her ninth day of life, her hospital bill was over $96,000, so that is no exaggeration.
- The future. Because Peanut and I are on the same page about our finances, I am not worried about how we'll make it. We'll figure out college savings versus retirement savings. We'll figure out daycare costs or dropping to one income for a longer period of time. We'll figure it out, and we'll do it together.
I say all of this not to brag, but to really highlight the importance of making choices for your future self. If old LMM had not avoided credit card debt, if old LMM had wanted a newer car, if old LMM upgraded her cell phone all the time or made lots of unnecessary purchases - my life would be a lot harder right now. Thanks, old LMM, for making those decisions.
If your old self didn't do you this favor, it's not too late. Start making those decisions now for your future self. Figure out your WHY and let that help guide you on your financial journey.