Financial Happiness

I was going through some old files last night and came across a file of magazine clippings. Most of them were articles on Magic the Gathering or the VS sytem from Inquest magazine, a recently defunct gaming magazine. However, one of the articles was from the October 2003 issue of Money magazine, titled The 10 Commandments of Financial Happiness. The article was written by Jean Chatzky, the author of You Don’t Have to Be Rich: Comfort, Happiness, and Financial Security on Your Own Terms.

Now it’s fairly atypical of me to actually bother to cut something out of a magazine and actually save it in a file, so I figured I should give this article a once over. It was as if four years ago, I had sent my future self a letter. You just can’t walk away from something like that.

The main idea of the article is that once you have a reasonable income, your real ticket to happiness with that income is to be in control of your financial life. Chatzky writes,

There is a very strong relationship between feeling in control of your finances and feeling happy about your finances–and happy with your life. Control over your finances plays a bigger role in determining your life’s happiness than being in control of your job, your health, your friendships, your weight. Clearly, it’s worth striving for.

Here’s what Chatzky carves on the stone tablets:

  1. Get (pretty) organized
  2. Pay bills as they come in rather than all at once
  3. Keep tabs on your cash
  4. Save at least 5% of your household income
  5. Protect you family (and yourself)
  6. Minimize credit-card debt
  7. Do unto others
  8. Spend sensibly
  9. Start working toward your goals
  10. Communicate

She also includes one for good luck:

  • Try not to be consumed with a desire for more

That’s the real trick, isn’t it?

If these are the financial 10 commandments, then I am going to financial hell on a scholarship. I’m good on commandments 4 and 5, and I’m pretty good with 1. I used to be great at keeping track of each and every cent, but it really didn’t make a difference and I gave it up for blogging.

I am going to live with this article for a little while, and see what happens when I try to follow all ten. Any kind of happy would be good with me.


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