“Financial health.” This is not a term I ever use, and as I read the provided definition of the term – “when your day-to-day financial activities help you build resilience and pursue opportunity” – the worn out images that initially materialized in my mind were of zero-based budgets, meal prepping, and cash envelopes.
Not that these day-to-day activities are undeserving of the definition, but I consider them to be supplements to help maintain good financial health after it is established. After all, – as most of us can observe with our friends and family – without a major underlying reason to partake in these activities, it would be far too easy to let these habits slip, if they are ever put into practice at all.
Whether your goal is becoming debt free for the first time in your adult life, ensuring a comfortable retirement and/or escaping the rat race at an early age, I believe financial health is finding a reason big enough to fight through the everyday roller coaster of emotions that accompanies the choice to live differently than the rest of our backwards, “give me” society that chooses to sacrifice their long-term potential for short term gains.
It’s forcing yourself to see red, negative numbers above every vehicle you would rather be driving.
It’s sitting on a bar stool, catching up with your best friend in her HGTV-worthy kitchen, surrounded by clean, white subway tile, sleek cabinets and brand new appliances, while pushing away the familiar burning feeling of jealousy.
It’s gulping down a lot of coffee and a little pride before leaving work and driving to your second job.
It’s holding your tongue while listening to your mother-in-law do a little more than hint at her disbelief about the small amount of gifts her grandchildren received for Christmas.
It’s swelling with hope and excitement after you color in another line of your debt-free chart.
It’s envisioning the day you will pay cash for your dream car when your out-of-state boss asks, “Are you still driving that old thing?”
It’s apologizing to your spouse a few hours after you responded childishly to not getting your way.
It’s sitting your threadbare purse on the counter next to your aunt’s new Kate Spade before joining the somber conversation of her recent bankruptcy.
It’s the faint resentment that accompanies every bite of the delicious sub that is paid for by the coworker who cannot accept your response of, “No, thank you,” to the spontaneous lunch run.
It’s coming home on a Tuesday evening from another long day of redundant work and finally breaking down in front of your husband, incoherently exclaiming through feverish tears how trapped and tired you feel.
And it’s feeling embarrassed and so thankful when you wake up the next morning as you reflect on his soft, slightly confused reminder that these day-to-day sacrifices are temporary, and that the sooner we get them over with, the sooner we can begin a life of freedom from debt, worry, and working daily to build someone else’s legacy.