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What money can’t buy: Lowering my money stress

Categories: Money, Your life


I find myself stressing about the economy/money/business a lot these days and I know I am not alone, not by a long shot. And while I am not that good at it, I keep trying different things to relieve my stress because there’s absolutely nothing healthy or productive about it. Quite the opposite, according to my voodoo doctor. (In case you’re curious, my voodoo doctor is the first person in the medical profession I’ve ever seen who has done something to limit my migraines from coming back and debilitating my life. I am not cheesy enough to call him my miracle doctor, so voodoo is the next best thing.)

In the absence of growing a money tree in our back yard or winning the lottery, both of which I am fairly certain would reduce some of my money-related stress, here’s what I’ve tried:

Looking for the upside of a bad economy. One example? In attempting to spend less money on coffee I’ve learned to make my very own rockin’ latte.

Blogging my stress, like, well, I am doing right now or have done before, right here on the Work It, Mom! Blog.

Being grateful for what we have, like a house over our heads (and one we happen to love), enough money for food, clothes (if you exclude my irrational desire to buy yet another pair of boots, but that’s for a different post), our daughter’s daycare and activities.

I must say, doing these things is somewhat helpful but I’d be lying if I told you that my money stress level is significantly reduced. My husband reminded me the other day that the last time I was really really really stressed out about money was right after the Internet bubble crashed and I was out of a job. I was losing my mind and in retrospect, it seems so silly — we didn’t have a child or a mortgage or any other significant expenses and lived a fairly frugal lifestyle. I think he was trying to hint that I tend to over-react with stress — point taken, honey!

It was also during that time that my husband and I decided to start a publishing company (yes, we were officially diagnosed as insane) and one of the books we published was called What Money Can’t Buy. We interviewed hundreds of people - including strangers we met in Times Square, where we braved the winter chill standing around with clipboards and asking people to tell us about things in their lives that mean a lot and that no amount of money could ever buy. The experience of putting the book together was worth much more than the sales of the book ever delivered because it made us refocus all this money stress into appreciation of things that cost nothing at all.

I am going to dig it out and post a few entries from it here in another post, but for now, I thought I’d open it up to you guys and ask you to write in the comments about things or experiences or perspectives in your life that mean a lot and that money can’t buy. Go, comment!

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2 comments so far...

  • Well, spending time with my 2-year-olds, of course. Every minute a Kodak or comic moment, or at least a teachable one.

    My backyard. Technically it did cost a few bucks 14 years ago - our modest house mortgage has been paid off for years - but to me, my backyard is priceless. A hill, woods, a ravine, a stream, frequented by deer and other wildlife, changing every day since we get the four seasons. A sensory paradise and a place to do yoga, read, meditate on life’s unanswerable questions, or just breathe. An arboretum, science museum, and gym for my kids. If we had noplace else to go for a month, I still don’t think we could get tire of it.

    Reading the books I have accumulated over the years - if only I could get started!

    Extended family and good friends.

    My health.

    Knowing how to be happy.

    Time and inspiration to do create art, music, and poetry. Combined with my old, used piano and some paper and pencils.

    Taking care of “myself” - something I’ve never done much of, but would be a nice temporary change if I suddenly had more time on my hands.

    A sense of humor.

    Long walks around the neighborhood.

    Walks or bike rides in the country.

    A relationship with God.

    A spectacular thunderstorm (without any damage), or a windy fall day, or huge snowfall combined with the “leisure” to shovel / play in it.

    Fawns. Butterflies.

    Sunrises and sunsets.

    A great music station on the radio.



    A clean and organized house (or room or drawer!).

    Icicle palaces.


    SKL  |  November 19th, 2008 at 12:42 am

  • Hi Nataly, I just recently discovered your blog and I’m enjoying the posts very much. I plan to be a frequent reader!

    My daughter is two and a half years old and last week I painted her tiny fingernails for the first time, and to hear the awe in her voice when she thanked me (unprompted) and wiggled her fingers in the air was amazing. It was all I could do not to burst into tears. Money can’t buy this kind of happiness, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re in the midst of all the mommy madness.

    To this I would add:

    Sipping a hot cup of coffee while I watch the sunrise…

    The smell of a new book…

    Hearing my husband say, in response to some mindless chore, task, or toddler emergency, “I’ll get it…”

    Claudia  |  November 22nd, 2008 at 10:40 pm