Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve


One of the false hopes that our psychology causes us to believe is that if we only had more, we’d be satisfied. If we only had that one more thing, a little more each paycheck, one more cookie, that’s all that we need. Regrettably and predictably, we get to that one more thing, only to find that the goalposts have moved.

Financial stress is a spectrum, and while we feel it very acutely when trying to get out of debt, it never really goes away. We will experience major negative financial events in our lives, and regardless of how prepared we are, it will be a trying time.

When you’re broke, a major car repair is stressful. But when you have a full emergency fund, you experience that same negative feeling when you have a major medical condition that requires you to pay out your deductible in a short period of time. The stress transfers from a scarcity of money to a desire to protect your emergency fund.

The budget is the plan to keep you on track towards your financial goals and prevent overconsumption. In times of stress, you may have to pause funding some of those major goals. This strategic pause then raises a new issue: do you forgive yourself for the months you “missed,” or do you run an internal debt IOU system to get back on track?

The answer to this question is not straightforward, but it’s okay to forgive yourself. We are not robots and none of us are on a perfect hockey stick growth trajectory. Long-term goals require long-term commitment, but missing a month or two or six on saving towards a 30-year goal is not going to make you miss the goal. It’s a small time window on a large horizon.

Don’t move the goalposts on yourself; get through the hard time and get back on track as soon as possible. Think about the future without dwelling on the past.