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Life Is Short. Spend It Well.

How facing my mortality changed my outlook on money

“So, you have a brain aneurysm.” 

Last summer, my world turned upside down in a single day. I went from training for a half-marathon and helping my parents with a garage sale to sitting in the ER, learning I had a mass on my thyroid and a brain aneurysm behind my right eye. 

This was the last thing I ever expected to happen, but there it was—happening.

The next few months were a blur of doctor visits, well-wishes, tears, naps, and calming breaths. I started making some significant changes to my life, from the products I used to the way I dealt with stress. 

I started questioning everything, including my relationship with money. In my mind, there were more pressing matters to address, like my health and stress management. When your life is rocked to its very core, money shouldn’t be as important, right? So I stopped caring about money, and I stopped using YNAB.

@ynabofficial Replying to @azyxdbce A vulnerable moment ❤️. Reframing my mindset around money has been so important. Money isnt just some problem to avoid or manage. It’s actually so important because it’s an extension of you. How you spend it is a reflection of you. Now that I’m using YNAB again, my spending is more in line with who I am as a person, and my stress is gone because I have a plan. And less stress is always good for your health! #ynab #money #brainaneurysm #imback ♬ Stories 2 - Danilo Stankovic

It turns out, money is more important than I ever thought. 

The longer I went without using YNAB, the more stress I felt around my finances. Uncertainty about where my money was going made me dread checking my bank account. And when I finally did log in and check my balance, I was faced with a harsh reality: without YNAB, money had become a major issue in my life.

A mindset shift and a new path forward

I decided to create a brand new plan in YNAB. I started from scratch, putting my most important priorities front and center. I asked myself, “If I only have a little bit of time left, how do I want to spend it?” and let the answer to that question guide me as I divided my money between categories.

The more I did this, the more I realized that money isn’t something to avoid. It isn’t something to deem “not important” enough to put my mental energy toward. It isn’t a chore, and it isn’t just another thing to stress about. 

Money is part of me. 

It’s an opportunity for me to show up in the world exactly how I want to. To give back. To experience new things. To spend more time with the people I love.  

Money can buy happiness

Since my diagnosis, there have been three moments that have brought me to [happy] tears. 

The first was watching the moon rise over the sea. My husband was building a fire on the beach while I sat with my youngest daughter on my lap. My other daughter was digging a hole in the sand, and in that moment, everything was perfect. 

The second was when we hiked to a beautiful waterfall with friends. My friend gave a speech about how “you only live once” and we all decided to jump in and stand under the waterfall. It was powerful, freezing cold, and so exhilarating! I hadn’t felt that alive in a long time. 

The third was when we visited Niagara Falls on a whim and boarded the Maid of the Mist—yes, the boat that Jim and Pam got married on—to see the falls up close. As we were pelted by the mist from the falls, my children were screaming and laughing with sheer delight. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces.

We wouldn’t have been able to have that moonlit fire on the beach if we hadn’t paid to get there and rent a camping spot nearby. We wouldn’t have hiked to that waterfall if we hadn’t funded a weekend away with our friends. And we wouldn’t have purchased tickets for the Maid of the Mist if I didn’t already have money set aside for “Unexpected Adventures” in YNAB.

Those moments happened because I was intentional with my money. Because I recognized that it’s an essential part of who I am and how I want to experience the world.

A life well-spent

Since creating my new plan in YNAB, I’ve spent less time stressing about money and more quality time with the people I love. I’ve traveled all around the U.S and have eaten at the best Mexican restaurant I’ve ever been to. I’ve been able to donate money to causes I care about. I was able to be fully present for my daughter when she broke her arm instead of worrying how we were going to pay for it. 

I’ve worried less and lived more. 

This whole experience has changed me. None of us actually know how much time we have left. If we push money aside and deem it as “not important”, we’ll find ourselves spending on things that don’t matter to us and living out of alignment with who we truly are.

I think it’s such a shame that so many of us think of money as a chore instead of the glorious, life-giving opportunity it really is. If we embrace it as an essential part of who we are, we’ll spend it accordingly. A life lived with intention and authenticity is a life well-spent.

Life is short. How do you want to spend it? Learn to embrace money as part of you—for good. Try YNAB free for 34 days.

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Life Is Short. Spend It Well.