static

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I spend a lot of time thinking about money.
More than is healthy, to be honest. Part of the time I’m optimistic, and part of the time I’m morbid. I spend more time than I should focusing on the morbid (“how can I lose my money”) and less than I should focusing on the optimistic (“how can I make more money”).

When you start in on major life projects – healthcare for an ill relative, a move, a career shift, a new child – static overwhelms the day-to-day problems of life. If you are worried about whether the gas bill was paid on time, you won’t be once you’re caring for a critically ill elderly parent. If you were troubled about your asset allocation earlier, you won’t be when you have a new baby on the way three weeks prematurely. Priorities fall into place.

The amazing thing is that when you’re struggling with “real life” problems, these stupid little “small life” problems become irrelevant. If you have your finances set up on an automated basis, these small life problems become almost invisible. Our gas, electric, phone, internet, satellite TV, mortgage, taxes and several other small bills were all paid automatically by direct charge to credit cards (if possible, for rewards points) or checking accounts (if credit cards were not possible, simply for convenience). If I was worried about anything, it was investment money and our long-term financial prosperity.

And long-term finances aren’t worth thinking about, because better minds than mine (or yours) couldn’t figure them out, either. Pick a strategy and stick to it. When moments in life come up that totally disrupt your ability to deal with money or other decisions, make sure you’ve automated as much as possible. Don’t rely on your ability to react in the moment. If you think you’ll be able to monitor your investments on a daily basis, the day will come when you can’t.

Have a system set up. I meant to have automatic post after automatic post set up for the week surrounding my move, but I don’t as of yet – I’m working on it, but bear with me. Automating your life to the greatest extent possible will make a huge difference in the quality of your life. You may not think it will when you’re buried deep in routine, and “remember to pay the gas bill on the first Tuesday of every month” is the most important thought you have crossing your mind for a week. Prepare for the days when you’ll be disrupted, and get ready for overwhelming static.

photo credit: kalleboo

7 comments

  • My mom always says, life is what happens when you're busy making plans. I am a planner…. but at the same time, and more so sometimes, I am not seeing the bigger picture. I am an intuitive, stream-of-though sort of thinker and I always trust that I will feel when it should happen. Having a family is something you can plan for down the line and even factor in worst-case scenarios such as premature delivery.

    But, as I get older, my planning system becomes more refined and maybe one day will render my stream-of-thought thinking obsolete. Well, then again, I hope not. Being able to think only in the moment makes thing so much more exciting. I think we each need a little bit of both to be prepared and at the same time, not get bored.

  • Right now I manually do my “automatic” payments. Whenever I get bills I pay them off right away so I don't forget or worry about it. I should do what you say and see if I can set it up through my checkings account. The one bill I would like to is my rent, and I can't set it up for that.

  • It's good to think about making money. At times, thinking about losing money is not such a good thing at all.

  • I think about money a lot too, especially now that I am pretty much on a cash system (soooo weird, by the way). I think maybe there is some benefit in it, but at the same time, it makes me worry about things I have no control over (ie, exchange rates). I don't know how to *not* think about money though!

  • Real life is often more complex that we thought it would be !
    Dr.David Black
    http://www.blackchiropractic.com.au

  • The funny thing (or not so funny) is that it seems like bad money things always happen in batches, where 2 or 3 repairs or bills come out of nowhere. That's also another reason why a cash reserve or rainy day fund is important.

  • The funny thing (or not so funny) is that it seems like bad money things always happen in batches, where 2 or 3 repairs or bills come out of nowhere. That's also another reason why a cash reserve or rainy day fund is important.