Personal Finance 

Use Goals to Reduce Money Worries

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I know a lot of people who are uncomfortable with their respective financial situations. As the economy recovers, the spectre of losing your job or of some other financial disaster wiping out finances feels very real and can be a heavy burden on your mind. The fear of the unknown is one of the greatest fears we all share and can appreciate.

David Moehlman is a 44 year old schoolteacher who has over a million dollars in savings but is constantly worried about money and retirement. With a million in savings and mutual funds plus another half million in real estate, you’d expect him to be someone who wasn’t constantly worried about his finances. Yet he is. He’s been called an extreme saver for some of his behavior, like always eating off the dollar menu at fast food places. More importantly, he “worries constantly about money.” Constantly worrying about something, be it money, health, or something else; isn’t healthy (neither is constantly eating at fast food places).

I find that the easiest way to stop worrying about something is to set goals. Instead of being “worried” about a very generic idea (retirement, losing your job, medical emergency), you can direct your energies towards something constructive. By focusing on an activity, all that nervous energy can be productive as you work towards a goal.

For example, let’s say you’re worried about how much you need for retirement. Instead of just worrying about it, why not work with calculators to find out how much you need to save. You may need a million dollars in your retirement funds, like Moehlman has right now, or you may need four? Either way, you know how much you’ll need and you can work on a savings plan to reach that goal whenever you retire. The key is to have a plan, with goals, so you can be productive with your worries and not just spinning your wheels.

Do you worry about money? How do you use that energy productively?

{ 6 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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6 Responses to “Use Goals to Reduce Money Worries”

  1. JamesV says:

    Excellent advice. I appreciate the proactive commentary.

  2. freeby50 says:

    The guy has $1m and worries all the time about money??? I honestly think that guy needs some therapy or counseling.

  3. zapeta says:

    If he has worries and has a million in the bank, he can just transfer it to me and I’ll worry about it! 🙂

    Seriously though, its best to confront the things you worry about and do what you can to minimize the risk of those things happening…otherwise you’ll worry yourself to death.

  4. stuart/edinburgh/scotland says:

    isnt living today part of life–not just retirement

    money just isnt a number

    not taking on new debt/loans and very sensible–but living off dollar menu/scrimping

    i hav no-where near 1 million but i enjoy eating out-nice meal/short city breaks

  5. I worry a LOT less than I used to, thank goodness. Six years ago I was constantly fearful that I would wind up homeless or, worse, that my disabled adult daughter would end up homeless.
    What changed? Well, I had quite a bit of therapy, I finalized my divorce, I got my university degree, I paid off my divorce-related debt and I learned to look a little more objectively at my situation.
    Is it ideal? Heck no. I’m a full-time freelancer without a “real” job and I pay for my own health insurance (which costs half as much as my rent!). But I have a strong emergency fund and the ability to live frugally. In fact, I *do* live frugally so that I can visit family and friends and generally live the life I want to live — but not before setting aside money in my Roth, of course.
    If I had a million in savings? I’d be damned if I’d sit on it. I’d buy myself a house and another one for my daughter and son-in-law. I’d increase the help I currently give to a couple of relatives who are struggling financially. And I’d buy myself some therapy if I hadn’t already gotten it.

  6. skylog says:

    i think that goals are so very important, so that one can avoid exactly what the “million dollar man” is going through. of course, how one goes through daily life is so dependent on the person in general, with a set of goals, one can at least get a sense of achievement and perhaps lessen the daily worrying. as you mentioned, in addition, the focus on the goal can also relieve a great deal of the worry.

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