Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Freedom to Ignore Money

I think part of the reason I haven't been posting much is that concerns other than money have been more prominent in my life lately. This is probably a good thing. The reason I started this blog in the first place was that so many concerns in my life seemed to relate to money in some way-- family, relationships, career, friends, housing, creativity, etc. That is still the case in many respects, but the money stuff has fallen more into the background.

My father's death really highlighted this. In the months before he died I'd really been at a high anxiety level about my mother's spending, their budget, and how ends would ever meet. Then when he went into the hospital, I couldn't help thinking about how my mother's compulsion to spend money fixing up the house related to the cause of his accident. But after he died, it was like my anxiety just evaporated. You'd think I would have been even more anxious-- after all, this means my mother's income is cut in half way earlier than we expected it to be, so she'll be spending down her savings even sooner. But there will be time later to worry about that, and right now we just need to be at peace.

I'm still very conscious of money, of course, but it's like I'm floating above it a bit right now. And this in itself is part of what I've always aspired to in how I manage my finances: the freedom not to worry. Sometimes financial security means you can put things on auto-pilot a bit, at least for a little while. My dad left my mother well-enough provided for that we don't have to panic, even if we will have to be careful and make some changes within the next few years. And my own finances are such that I don't have to be hyper-vigilant about them right now. My income exceeds my expenses, I have a good cushion of cash in the bank, and my investments are muddling along as well as can be expected in line with overall market conditions. I still need to worry about whether I am saving enough money to meet my long-term retirement goals, and ignoring that is definitely not something to take lightly, but right now, I can give myself a bit of a break.

I've obviously been giving this blog a break too! I've been thinking about different ways to approach it, perhaps writing more substantive posts less frequently rather than posting lots of quick links and commentary-- we'll see. Thank you to everyone for all your kind words and sticking with me through good times and bad!

15 comments:

Michelle said...

Really interesting ideas here. For people overwhelmed with debt or bad credit, maybe the first step is to sit back and relax for a moment. Then, developing a plan to get on track might seem much more manageable.

Anonymous said...

We're behind you 100% whatever you decide. I'll be here no matter what.
I hope that your grieving gets easier and easier each day.
-Tasha

Crystal said...

I just found your blog yesterday and I'm already hooked. Good luck to you and yours...I am so sorry for your loss.

Clean ClutterFree Simple said...

I'm so sorry...I hope your family is doing well through this.

T'Pol said...

Madame X, It takes a long time to recover when you lose a parent. Take your time to find inner peace. Remember, you come first.
Take care an be well.

Gord said...

Two good lessons in this post, Madam X. Your Dad managed to provide for your Mom despite her tendency to be a spender. It couldn't have been easy for him to have that kind of discipline. I'm sure when he died, it was with some satisfaction with his accomplishments and in particular how he managed his money. I don't remember you saying he had any formal training in that field; so good on him.

The other lesson is how empowering it is for you to have managed your money well enough that you can afford to take time out and relax a bit. Can you imagine what it would have been like to go through all this and not be able to miss work? To have no savings and a bunch of credit card debt.

And you didn't get there from just having a good job. It's mostly a result of your decision to control spending, and save and invest. That's the lesson: choosing the right path. Lot's of people make your salary and they are essentially broke.

Good to have you back.

Ashie said...

I love your blog, but I think you need to do what's best for you now. I think you might need a break - which I think most of your readers will understand. Another option may be to have a guest writer for this period. Sorry, I couldn't help giving my unsolicited advice, and I'm sure there are much better ideas out there, but I just want you to know that we understand. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

I read your blog daily. Take all the time you need so you can come back. We'd be very interested in how you and your family take care of your mother. Our thoughts are with you.

Sicilian said...

I would have to say that sometimes all the things we thought. . . . all the planning . . . . all the worry. . . . and I do worry . . . . is for naught.
My biggest regret is that my parents saved all their lives. . . . and when my mother died. . . . I grieved that she never got to travel. . . enjoy their savings. . . . I ached. I vowed that I will live each day. . . . I will enjoy life. . . .
Ciao

bugbear said...

I would say make sure to maintain and keep up with the budgeting routines that have gotten you to where you are. As you know, savings takes care of itself if you stick to your predetermined budgets, which doesn't take that much work to track and stay on top of. I find if I fall off the wagon on my budgetary routines by savings suffer badly. I personally am using a monthly cash envelope system these days for most of my day to day spending, for the simple reason that it makes it so simple to see on any given day how much money I have left to spend in a given category. (Food, Gas, Fun and Miscellaneous are my three categories.

I know with absolute certainty that I don't need to be concerned at all about my spending as long as I don't spend anything but what is in the envelopes. So the budget and money stuff falls into the background for most of the month.

Tracie said...

I would say ... By educating ourselves on the matter and gathering ideas and input one can come up with a Money Management
plan that would fit your lifestyle and make money management a success. Money our money is a means to an end.

StephenDraper said...

Yeah, everyone needs a little break or something. You sound pretty stressed on what just happened.

About your idea of blog post, I'm with you and if ever I have my own blog now (still in the planning phase), I would also do the more substantive than frequent and "easy" posts. Good luck to your plans!



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Stephen Draper
Ace Cash Express
Payday Loans and Prepaid Debit Cards

ChiefFamilyOfficer said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. You make an excellent point about being able to go on autopilot for a while when you've laid the groundwork. I did that recently when my son was hospitalized, and it was immensely gratifying to know that because we'd prepared well, the situation didn't create financial stress. My thoughts & prayers are with you and your family during this time of grief.

Best Home Mortgage Rates said...

You are brave enough to handle it, as you are expressive with your feelings. This i can sense through your post, as i felt the pain you are actually going through right now. Living with our own self is a good policy to overcome any pain and trauma.

Jerry said...

Yes, you are brave in how you handled this situation with your dad and mom. But, real life happens. And, it can lead to ugly and sad things as you so obviously experienced. Our only insurance for keeping our sanity through life is to be prepared and it looks like your mom and you are. That will allow for those auto-pilot moments. We all have them.