My financial planning makes it possible for me to enjoy one of the great benefits of being wealthy without actually having to be rich. That benefit is something that cannot be measured in dollars: peace of mind. What I call the shrug-and-chuckle benefit of financial planning. And it is priceless. Here is what I mean.
I am financially planned “up the ying yang.” It is for monetary reasons, of course. But that financial planning gives me more than just economic benefits.
I get more from being insured against this, that and the other than just the protection of my financial assets. I get more from having several backup layers to my income than just the provision of secure cash flow. I get more from keeping my baseline expenses well below my income than just the creation of a large surplus for discretionary spending.
What all this financial planning gives me that cannot be measured in dollars is peace of mind. What I call the shrug-and-chuckle benefit of financial planning. Here is what I mean.
Last year, I took my old blind dog Little Bit (of Trouble!) to the vet for her wellness exam. The doc found a mammary gland tumor that required surgical removal. So just to know what to expect, I asked about how much. About $700, the vet said. Okay, I said. No sticker shock. No stress. Just a mental shrug and chuckle. The peace of mind benefit of financial planning at play.
A few months ago, we were getting ready to have 16 new windows installed at the house. I brought in my handyman guy for an estimate on the installation itself. Between $800 and $1000, he said. I looked at him and nodded. He started to defend his price. I stopped him. You do not see me freaking out, I said. It is okay, I said. No stress, no worries. Just a mental shrug and chuckle. The peace of mind benefit of financial planning in action.
Last December, I had one of those LifeLine screenings done for no money out of pocket (which is another story). When I showed the results to my doctor, he advised getting a carotid ultrasound test at the hospital. Even though I would be on the hook for 20% of whatever the test cost, I did not even ask how much. Moneywise, I had the peace of mind that came from knowing that when I got the bill it would just be another occasion to shrug and chuckle.
The big deal here – the point – is that the financial planning I have set in place shields me from any sort of unexpected expense stress. My discretionary fund covered Little Bit’s surgery. Our home repair fund paid for the window installation. My health expense reserve defrays any medical out-of-pocket costs I might have. It has all been covered in advance so that when an unexpected expense crops up all that is left for me to do is to chuckle at yet another curve ball thrown at me by life.
My financial planning makes it possible for me to enjoy one of the great benefits of being wealthy without actually having to be rich. It is not about being able to afford anything I might wish for — because I cannot. It IS about not having to worry about money — which I do not. And that peace of mind, as they say, is priceless.
The takeaway: The peace of mind that comes from being in financial balance is well worth striving for. Every new (or even current) major expense or payment commitment needs to be screened through that mental filter. Will I still be in financial balance if I go ahead? Or am I robbing myself of my chance for financial freedom?
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