Achieving Financial Wellness: Tips for Managing Your Money and Living a Balanced Life

In personal finance, we talk a lot about strategies and tactics for paying off debt, making more money, saving, investing, taxes, etc. There’s not a lot about balancing your life with your financial goals. It’s arguably the most important thing to master.

The whole point of money is to make your life better. Putting your life entirely on hold until you reach your financial goals doesn’t make sense.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

We all know that keeping up with the Joneses can lead to trouble. It’s like personal finance 101. However, it’s easy to get caught up trying to keep up with people who absolutely kill it in the financial department. They have no debt and have money in the bank.

It can be tempting to compare what they’ve done with what you’ve done, but that can be counterproductive. Even when you’ve accomplished quite a bit in the financial wellness scale, it might seem you should be doing more. It never ends as someone is always doing better than you.

Regardless of what anyone else did or is doing, we must have balance and live life. You should also maintain your focus and stick to your goal.

Money Under the Mattress

A recent article described a mobile home caretaker who quietly amassed millions in investments. No one in the town he lived in imagined the dyslexic man who lived in a trailer with no TV was secretly wealthy. He always seemed content with the bare necessities of life.

The story is not unusual. There have been quite a few over the years of people who were secretly wealthy in their lifetimes. A few of them are well-known finance bloggers.

A striking thing about the story is the man didn’t use the money on himself, although he was quite a collector. He left everything to the town after he died at 82 without much ceremony. It almost seemed that the accumulation of wealth was the end rather than the means. His sister speculated that it might have been his way of pleasing his father, who placed a lot of importance on frugal living.

That sounds sad, but by all accounts, he was a contented man. It might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but his lifestyle suited his personality and background.

Everyone will manage their money differently, but the satisfaction you get from it creates the balance. For some, it means the freedom to travel. For others, staying in one place and mowing their neighbors’ lawns is the essence of luxury.  

Building wealth just to have it might seem crazy to some people, but it makes some sense. The idea of money under the mattress can bring a sense of security and peace of mind, and who doesn’t want that?

Live a Little

Setting financial goals is an excellent idea if you have a good reason. Knowing why you’re setting them keeps you focused, making you more likely to achieve them through tough times. Usually, they are long-term, like college, housing, investments, or debt servicing.

However, you also need to learn the importance of the short term. After all, life is uncertain. Tomorrow may never come. While you should be responsible for setting aside money for a rainy day, you should remember to enjoy the sunny ones.

Of course, managing your money typically means delaying gratification. Instead of going on a vacation this year, you put the money aside for the downpayment on a car. It is often a tradeoff. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go camping or fishing on the weekend. Take some of the vacation money you saved to splurge on a fancy dinner.

No rule states you must delay enjoying your life to make a living. Don’t be so caught up in working 60-hour weeks that you don’t have the time or energy to stop and smell the coffee.

You must remember to live in the process.

Keep the Balance Going

Remember that money is a means to an end. For most people, the end is to allow us to do things that matter. It could be relationships, experiences, or anything that makes life worth living.

That means different things for different people. But what stays constant is the need to balance money and life. You should have enough money to live on, put into an online bank account, and for use in emergencies. Anything else is gravy and considered “mad” money you can spend on anything you want.

Ask yourself the following to balance your money and life:

  • Will this make me happy? Consider whether the decision will make you happy in the long run, not just in the short term.
  • How does this fit with my “why?” It all goes back to the reasons behind your financial goals. If this decision doesn’t align with that, it may not suit you.
  • How will this impact my long-term goals? This one goes beyond financial goals. The decision may concern your career path or your family. While tied to your finances, these are distinct areas of your life that are not purely financial.
  • How much will this delay my financial goals? For example, if the decision requires you to clean out your savings and cash out retirement, it may not be the wisest choice.

The main point is that achieving financial wellness does not stop with the money part. You also need to live your life to the fullest. Unless you enjoy the present, there’s no point in planning for the future.

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