Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

Zen and The Art of Money Management

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Books on approaching sports, motorcycle repair, and job hunting with a Zen attitude were very popular for a while. I think it’s time I provided some guidelines for approaching money the same way!

You see, Zen is really an attitude towards life. It encourages people to be natural and spontaneous, yet controlled. It is a creed of doing yet not doing, of relaxing to create energy rather than trying too hard and wasting energy.

A lot of people seem to waste a lot of energy being tense about money. Yes, I know that jobs and resources are scarce. But nowhere in nature does any animal have access to unlimited resources without effort. Why should we expect things to be any different for humans? And is that sufficient reason to be so tense that you cease to enjoy the resources you do have?

I also know that the unexpected expense or catastrophe can come along at any time and wipe out savings. (Do I ever known that! Remind me to tell you about my catastrophes sometime!) But that only means it’s even more essential to develop a healthy attitude towards money that will carry you through the hard times as well as the high times!

Let’s face it. There’s been plenty of research that shows that while having a little more money may help you be happier if you have been struggling below the poverty level, if you’re already middle-class or higher, more money does not automatically result in more happiness.

How do you allow yourself to feel rich when your bank account says you’re not?
By relaxing and accepting your limitations with a certain Zen tolerance, and then letting yourself enjoy what you do have. Build in things that are fun. Don’t let your thoughts about money dominate you just because it’s scarce. If that seems too esoteric and mystical for you, try these tips:

1) Plan ahead and take stock of your assets. Many people find this the most difficult step. List all income, and don’t forget possible income and hidden assets, like things you can sell or services you can barter. Don’t be afraid to know where you stand financially. You might be better off than you think.

2) Set your priorities. Make note of all necessary outlays. And I do mean necessary! Check to see what’s really essential to your survival. Rent or mortgage may be fixed, but many other things are flexible. Look for creative ways to reduce expenses. There are many articles and websites that offer tips on how to cut food, utility, and other bills.

3) Keep a positive attitude. Make it a game to live well on less money, and be cheerful about it. This is a chance to show how much you can learn, and a chance to prove how adaptable you can really be. Make it a challenge to economize, not a choice. It’s really an adventure to see how much you can create from what you have already.

You may not have a choice about how much money you can make, but you do have a choice about the attitude you’re going to have towards money. Planning ahead, setting priorities, and keeping a positive attitude are things you can do. When it comes to money, a little Zen goes a long way. Don’t work so hard you forget to enjoy the adventure!