How to Worry Less About Money

How to Worry Less About Money, John Armstrong, finances, poverty, savings, pear, School of Life, Toolkit for Life

It’s almost the end of October and the end of The Everygirl 30-Day Challenge to budget and save for the holidays!

On the whole, I’ve been pretty good about sticking to this challenge. I’ve been good about putting money away in my savings account and not making any unnecessary buys. There were a couple of times when I’ve been like, “Ooh, maybe I’ll just buy this $5 strawberry tart for a dessert…” and my boyfriend was like, “Aren’t you supposed to say no to unnecessary treats this month?” And I was like, “Aah! Noo! Why did you remind me?”

But as it turns out, in the long term, I’ve been really glad I didn’t buy those treats. They really were unnecessary and I really was better off without them. I think that one of my favourite things when I finally grew up and was in charge of my own spending money was the fact that I could treat myself as often as I like without my mum saying no to me. The only problem was that perhaps I was treating myself a little too much and needed to reign myself in…

As part of October Budget Saving Month, I also took the time to peruse through John Armstrong’s How to Worry Less About Money, which is a part of a six-book collection entitled the Toolkit For Life. I bought this while I was taking a couple of courses at the School of Life pop-up in Perth – other books in the collection include How to Stay Sane, How to Change the World, How to Think More About Sex, How to Find Fulfilling Work and How to Thrive in the Digital Age. I can’t wait to read them, especially How to Change the World and How to Find Fulfilling Work, but in the meantime, I thought that seeing as October was budget month, I decided to start off with How to Worry Less About Money.

How to Worry Less About Money is a great little book – only about 148 pages long and easy to read. The writer, John Armstrong, is very honest about his own money worries and has some great insights to impart to help us create a better mindset about our finances. Here are some of the key phrases and findings that really stayed with me after reading this book:

Money is a vehicle or a tool that can help you what you want out of life or help smooth your path along life and make it that bit easier. But what is bad is when we come to depend too much on money and it is no longer a tool but something that swells up and takes over our entire lives.

When you analyze what’s really speaking to you, it often turns out that it’s not really a desire for more wealth but the idea of escaping some of the more mundane parts of your current life; that feeling of starting afresh and being a slightly different, slightly better person.

 When we worry about money, we’re actually not worrying about money itself – we’re worried about an underlying issue and the trick is to try and figure out what that real issue is. (For example, I don’t need to be sitting in an elegant café, sipping pricey wine and typing on a cool new laptop in order to be a great writer. What I really just need is time spent devoted to practicing my writing – and I don’t need wine, a cool café or an expensive laptop to do that.)

Re money risks and concerns: A courageous person isn’t one who simply fails to notice a threat. They are acutely aware of the risks: it’s just that, instead of being paralyzed or intimidated, they are determined and confident enough to face those risks.

Doing valuable things doesn’t always feel good at the time. (I didn’t really want to give up treats like an expensive dessert or a hot chocolate every day but in the long run, I was really glad I did it.)

Ask yourself, ‘how good will it be for me to have this thing in my life?’ How central/essential is it to the project of living a good life and being a good version of myself?

 Conversely, just because you want something and you can afford it doesn’t mean you should buy it. (A major example of this is whenever I hit the sales with my sister who’s a terrible temptress to go shopping with and eggs me on to buy stuff I don’t really want or need just because it’s on sale. These purchases usually end up sitting on my shelf, gathering dust, and I’d find I’ve spent a lot of money buying a lot of cheap things that I’m actually never really going to use or even want).

We need to start thinking about our relationship with money in the same way we think about our relationship with another person – that is, we need to think about what we are contributing to this relationship (i.e. wisdom, patience, a good dose of reality, lessons learned from previous experiences, the exercising of good judgment, etc.) and what we really need or want out of this relationship.


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