Who says money can’t buy happiness? When it comes to couples therapy, there are three big common denominator issues: money, sex, and parenting. If there are no children, it’s money and sex. If there is no relationship, then money is still often an issue. So, no matter how we approach it, financial security (a softer, gentler way to say money) is a concern for most of us, and April 15th is the day of the year we love to hate. By all reasonable estimates we work approximately the first three months of each year for free, donating our money to Uncle Sam. In these economic times we may be more resentful than ever, but more importantly we may feel less financially secure.
No matter how much we try to deny it, much of our feelings of security are directly related to our finances. We live in a capitalistic society. It has its advantages, and it has its disadvantages. Idealistically, we’d like to believe that if we work for a set number of years, we should be entitled to not worry about health care, living conditions, and assorted comforts. We call that “planning for retirement” or our little “nest egg.” While all of us give lip service to the idea that financial planning is a good thing, too few of us do anything about it. As with many of our difficulties, denial and avoidance contribute to our problems. We tend to think of them only in time of need. However, especially with regard to financial planning “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Imagine how much stress would be lifted off of us if we worked because we wanted to rather than because we had to. Imagine never having to worry about what was going to happen to you because whatever your needs, there were funds to address them. Psychologically speaking, whether we like it or not, poor financial planning causes a huge amount of stress on us, and we all are aware of the negative effects of stress. Statistics show that among baby boomers, only about one in four has adequate funds for retirement, and recent events have resulted in a severe curtailment of even those funds. People just don’t want to face the reality of the situation. But while not addressing it avoids the short-term discomfort, it geometrically increases the long-term discomfort and hits us when we may no longer have resources or health to do anything about it. A good portion of depressive feelings in the elderly are tied to finances.
Money may not be able to buy happiness all the time, but money, financial security, a nest egg, or whatever else you would like to call it definitely reduces stress. Tax time always makes us take a close look at our finances. It’s like looking in a financial mirror. But now we are forced to look at our finances, or lack thereof, on a daily basis. If we don’t like what we see, some of us will look and blame the mirror, some will look and deny the reflection, and a few of us will not like what we see and do something about it. Into which category will you fall? It doesn’t take much effort, but it does take some. However, it will be effort very well spent … and that IS a pun intended.
Until next time, this is Dr. Andrew telling you to “Be kind to yourself.”
Tikkun Olam- heal the world. Leave it a better place when you leave.