One of the big problems that I have with money has nothing to do with the spending and/or savings side of things. It is my actual thought process about money. I am a gold medalist at mental monetary gymnastics.
Let me explain what I mean.
I am constantly and I mean constantly thinking about ways to improve, adjust, or redo my financial situation. For example, last week I wrote about some of my own financial rules. I talked about how this year was going to be the first year I was going to be able to max out my tax deferred retirement contributions, which is a good thing. However, within 30 minutes of writing the article I started thinking about how I could/should redo my finances. Specifically, I was thinking how fast I could pay off my one personal loan if I just stopped the contributions for 9 months or so then I could get out of debt that much faster. However, then I thought to myself I might lose all of the potential investment gains over the next 9 months. But then I thought I really want to have this loan gone and then I could go back to savings and on and on and on.
Today, I was at the gym thinking about how much debt I was going to pay off by the end of the year if I make 3 more mortgage payments and if I was going to meet my goal. Then I started to plot out how I could get to that goal if I paid some of those payments early and whether or not I could do so.
I have also written about how we live paycheck to paycheck. In some respects, this is by choice. I try to pay as much money as I can toward my debt, while at the same time saving for retirement, having a little fun, etc, etc. I am doing five bazillion things at once. This past paycheck is literally already gone for both Mrs. ROB and I (and we only got paid three days ago). Now it isn’t that we spent it on anything extravagant but I paid the mortgage, car payment, my personal loan, my student loan, Mrs. ROB’s student loan, and sent a check for a hospital bill. Money gone.
So now I am doing mental gymnastics about how much I am going to get in my next paycheck because I will be getting some extra monies from some summer work I was doing and where that money was specifically going to go. Should I pay another mortgage payment? What about more money on the personal loan? Where should I go, etc, etc, etc.
This is a common problem for me. For whatever reason I am always on. I can’t even go to the gym and turn my brain off. I have really never been able to do so. I play mental mind games at the gym or at work to make the day go faster.
However, if my goal is financial independence I need to have a plan and stick to it. Right now I am meeting all of my goals. By the end of the year I will have met my goal of paying off 10% of my debt (yeah) unless something weird happens. I will have saved a lot for retirement. And I might even get to the point where we can refinance our house to a lower interest rate, which would allow us to pay off the mortgage faster.
The problem with these items is that I am not focusing on one specific item. I am trying to do five things at once. Perhaps that is why I admire people who use Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step Plan. Basically, Dave has you go through seven basic steps one at a time. The only baby step that I adhere to is the very first one with an emergency fund of $1000. Everything else I mix and match.
Maybe that is my problem. I am not focused on one thing or another. Part of it might be this debt. It is kind of hard to focus when I want this gone so much and I can’t do what I want to do and that is pay off my personal debt. But when I say that I think I am fooling myself because I am always going to play mental monetary gymnastics. It might just be for something else. Maybe that is my cross to bear?
Anybody got any advice? One goal at a time? Focus?
As I mentioned before one of the reasons for this blog is for me to discuss my own money personality quirks, try to improve them, and keep myself in check as I journey toward financial independence and debt freedom. My mental monetary gymnastics are one of my quirks.