Financial Problems: One Way to Stop Freaking Out

March 12, 2019 by David Riedel

About 15 years ago, long before I was married and had kids, I had a particularly difficult time handling my finances. I lived in New York City (expensive), I worked in the news biz (doesn’t pay well), and when I got a promotion and raise, I moved into an apartment I could barely afford.

Rent was $2200 (a steal these days), not including gas and electric, and I also had a mountain of credit card debt. My solution: Panic.

I had a work friend in almost the exact same situation. He didn’t share my worries. When I asked him how, he said, “I meditate.”

By nature I’m a skeptic, but I was so worried about not making rent that I gave it a shot.

Three things happened.

First, nothing (that’s a thing). Sitting quietly for 20 minutes each morning and focusing on my breathing wasn’t cutting it.

Second, I purchased a guided meditation CD (I’m sure there are all kinds of tools online for free now). My mind and body got in sync with the help of a soothing, disembodied voice telling me what to do. Eventually, I was able to leave the CD behind and meditate on my own.

Third, when I felt like I’d found clarity in other parts of my life, I’d meditate on self-improvement. One thing I discovered was that I didn’t know how to spend money wisely or save properly.

This led me to spend a lot of non-meditating hours looking for ways to change the way I handled my finances. I started paying my rent with an American Express card, which sounds counter intuitive. But I needed time for my paychecks to clear before the first of the month. I didn’t always have the full $2200 available. Plus, I had to pay the American Express card in full. I had to conserve funds until at least the 22nd of each month when the bill was due. (And I earned points.)

I’ve meditated on and off for years, sometimes to great effect, sometimes not. But one thing is certain: That 20 minutes (or 30 or 45 or whatever) can go a long way in calming me, getting me centered, and helping me come to clear realizations about the problems in my life.

And it all began because I was scared I couldn’t make rent.


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