Spend Less, Stress Less

There’s a phrase that all of us have heard before, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.” I personally think this is a ridiculous. There are plenty of people who use this phrase as an excuse to get sympathy. Yes, you may have lots of money, but you aren’t getting any sympathy from me because you need to pay the landscapers $300 per week to tidy up your 4 acre property.

Having a lot of money solves many problems. Your car got towed? No problem, let me go withdraw $300 cash from the ATM and I’ll have it in a jiffy. My car has $1,000 in repairs? Just put it on the credit card, I can always pay it off at the end of the month. You want that cute girl at the bar to like you? Order $200 worth of mixed drinks and appetizers.

The thing is, having a lot of money (and spending a lot of money) creates stress. Stress that I didn’t realize I had until I significantly decreased my spending in the Zero Day Challenge. Stress that you’ll never notice until you take a step back.

Spending Money is Stressful

Spending money is stressful. Maybe you don’t earn a lot and don’t have a lot of savings. Every time you need to buy groceries, you must know exactly how much cash you have, how much the food will cost, and even be able to estimate the tax.

Every visit to the grocery store could mean you overdraft your account. Do you have enough money to completely fill up your gas tank, or should you only get another $10 worth? Can you afford the $20 fee to send your kids on the day trip at camp?

All of these thoughts cause stress, and they are all associated with money. They’re there because you aren’t in a a strong financial position, but the same stresses will manifest even if you have money.

Your kids are in a posh prep school. Tuition is a modest $20,000 per year per child. Of course they are on the travel soccer team which costs $400 per month. It seems like there is a new expense every day.

Between boy scouts and the travel team, Friday night dinner with your PTA friends and a birthday party every month, money freely leaves your pocket on a daily basis. You wonder if you’ll have enough to retire, and hate paying off your $4,000+ credit card bill at the end of every month.

Goodbye Spending, Goodbye Stress

Spending all of this money is stressful, regardless of your situation. So why not stop and see how it feels? This was me when I started the Zero Day Challenge. I was depressed, so I would swipe my credit card and buy something to feel better. This temporarily relief never lasted, and I kept getting stressed out because my savings account balance never increased.

I’m not advocating that you put your credit card in a glass of water and freeze it. I would never suggest neglecting to buy groceries.

But after you’ve taken care of the necessities: food, water, and shelter, why not try taking a break? Stop spending money, and enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy spending time with your family and friends. Build something with your own two hands.

When I finally did this last January, I not only realized that I was spending money to try and deal with my sadness, but I also realized that I derived much more happiness by interacting with others. I derived more happiness by building things such as Zero Day Finance.

By spending less money on useless stuff, I’ve also significantly improved my financial position. Over the past 7 months, I’ve maxed out my Roth IRA, contributed $12,000 to my 401(k), and added more than $10,000 to my emergency fund.

Saying no to wasted spending has given me two very significant benefits: more money, and less stress. Who could have thought that was possible? Guess “mo’ money, mo’ problems” isn’t really true after all.

Comments 2

    1. Post

      Yep! I realized I didn’t need more than $1,500 per month in spending, so I was able to divert that extra money towards my investments.

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