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.