Time and the Role It Plays in “Financial Stress”

I’m a huge believer in the Power of Being ‘Time Neutral’.  I stumbled upon the concept as I was getting my life back in order after my financial tsunami.  And nobody seems to talk about it.

What do I mean?

Well, imagine you’ve accumulated a certain amount of debt, including a mortgage, a car payment and credit cards.  Plus you have those other bills that are just part of ‘life.’  Imagine that each month you continue to add to credit card debt for little needs and wants.  So, although you’re making credit card payments, your new charges are greater than that portion of your payment that goes to pay down principal (whatever is left after you pay interest).

The balance isn’t coming down at all.  Now say you’ve reached your credit limit (or you just got one of those letters from the bank saying your credit limit has been capped at the present balance … as so many people experienced this past year).  Suddenly you’re worried about how to meet all your commitments with what you’re bringing in each month:  How will you juggle things?  What will you pay late?  Where can you get some extra money?

Time As a Stressor

When our expenses are greater than our income, what’s the thing we most dread?  The passage of time. We dread every day that passes … every day that takes us closer to the end of the month … or to whenever the next bill comes due.  Checking off each day on the calendar makes us sick to our stomachs.

Time Neutral

What happens when our expenses equal our income?  We’re “time neutral” and it doesn’t matter that one more day has passed … because we know that we can meet our financial obligations when they arrive.  Even if just barely.  That doesn’t matter.  Suddenly the huge burden of passing time (which we can’t stop no matter how hard we try) is lifted off our shoulders.  Our anxiety level drops.  And without that one burden, we have breathing room that lets us be so much more creative about our lives, our challenges, our solutions, our goals.

After being upside down financially and stressing over every billing period, I don’t have the words to express how my life changed … because of the Power of Being ‘Time Neutral.’

Time as a Friend

Next, imagine what happens when our expenses are smaller than our income.  Now we relish the passing of each day because we know that each one represents more ‘spare money’ in the bank.  It has nothing to do with wishing time away.  It has everything to do with the attitude of looking forward with glee … rather than dreading … tomorrow.

Lesson:  Do whatever it takes to get your expenses equal to or lower than your income.  And then breathe.