Sunday, January 6, 2008

Throw Money at It! Money as a Problem Solver

When some matter goes awry in my life, the most liberating, comforting advice I give myself is "Throw money at it!" Obviously this doesn't work in all situations, especially if they're life-threatening, but a surprising number of times, knowing I can spare the money to make a problem go away lowers my anxiety all by itself.
The question I set out to answer when I launched MoneyChangesThings is "What is a surplus for?". Most financial blogs ask "how do you get out of debt" and "How do you best invest and manage money to increase your net worth?" These are important questions, but it's the question on the other side that I grapple with and find very few folks willing to discuss:
"Once you achieve financial sustainability, then what?"

Two weeks ago today we were in a nasty car crash. No one was seriously injured, quite a miracle, since both cars were totaled. Accidents are terrifying, needless to say.
But a financial cushion made it all so much easier - this is a way that money changes things. We have car insurance. We have health insurance. Our policy covered a car rental. We had money budgeted to replace my husband's car since it was ten-years-old and on the edge of cost/benefit for replacing. I could take a few days off and rest up from my minor injuries without worrying about being able to pay the bills. It was yucky, yucky, yucky. But it wasn't magnified by losing sleep over the financial fall-out. We could focus our attention on being grateful that we and the other car's passengers are alive and well, working out the logistics, and healing. That is an ENORMOUS blessing.
I don't waste money when I have control over a situation, but occasionally I throw it at problems and I am so grateful for that privilege. Money doesn't fix everything, of course. But in the end, I think having money for problem-solving is one of the greatest outcomes of financial sustainability, one that truly defines high quality of life:
freedom from money worries.
For all those of you who are solvent - appreciate it. And for those striving to reach this point, may 2008 be a great year in which you make progress reaching your personal and financial goals.

PS. We were all wearing seat belts. BUCKLE UP!

Image lifted from Notes for a Neophyte


Jacob said...

Reminds me of when I was younger and traveling extensively by train. Whenever some schedule broke down, throwing money at it always solved the problem. Of course, as you mention, throwing money at it won't solve many of life's other problems. It won't make an unhappy person happy or in some cases an unhealthy person healthy, also it won't fend off a dog chasing unless you throw it really really hard ;P

C said...

Hi there, I found your blog a few days ago and since then I've read through most of your archives - I'm really enjoying your posts!

Your blog fills a great niche in the blogger and PF world. I'm big on frugality and investing (well I'm only just starting out there) so that I can have a high quality of life but also so that I can share my wealth with others.

It's funny as I'd actually read several of your posts through carnivals in the past but it's only now that I actually clicked past that initial post.

PS: I come from Brisbane, Australia and washing lines are the norm and dryers are reserved for prolonged wet weather for the most part. I couldn't believe when I first heard last year that some places in North America ban them!!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your accident! Thank goodness everyone is ok.

You are absolutely right - having a cushion of money can mean freedom. We also threw some money at a problem recently by paying a crew to paint our old house after moving. Having that cushion gave us the choice between painting ourselves or dedicating that time elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I came over here today after reading your article at Get Rich Slowly. I'm on my second reading of the book "Your Money or Your Life" and your blog looks like a very good fit for me :)

I can relate to the blessing of having money to cover unexpected expenses. Our son needed major dental work right away, and our extended medical wouldn't cover the anaesthetic which cost $750.00. It was so great to be able to pay it without stress!!

Reading this post made me think of a quote from a friend. We were discussing international non-profits. There was a lot of arguing going on at one meeting between the Americans and Europeans. One man said something that made the issue clear to everyone there. He said, "Americans spend money to save time, and Europeans spend time to save money." Food for thought...