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The Lower Brain: Balancing Business and Pleasure

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In this week’s installment of The Lower Brain, Sara helps one young lover strike a balance between his business and pleasure as he struggles to find time for love when he’s busy handling his finances.

Dear Sara:

My girlfriend says I work too much. I have a day job that I like pretty well, and then I drive Lyft to make more money, plus I watch my friend’s kids sometimes for extra cash (I guess that makes me a “manny”?). I’m trying to save money, pay down debt, and all the usual stuff. She and I are both 27, and she works hard too, but she didn’t make the stupid spending choices I did when I was younger.

Plus, she went to a community college so she doesn’t have student loans. She says I’m so busy and stressed all the time that she’s having trouble feeling like I care about her, and it’s definitely not turning her on. I get it, but I have financial goals and if I’m solvent, she’ll be happier, right? What should I do?


Stressed AF

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Dear SAF:

You sound like a really good dude. And as someone with a legit spending problem – as in, Debtors Anonymous has helped me – I completely understand prioritizing your financial life. Having fewer bills and less debt can make somebody feel lighter, brighter and happier. It can make you feel healthier. And the lowered stress can even make you physically healthier for real, not to mention mentally healthier. But your girl loves you and wants your time too, so let’s look at that.

I’m not suggesting a shared Google calendar like some parents have, but can you two look at your schedule and set a standing date for time together? It will involve sitting down and compromising, and that’s cool. Look at this as a chance to practice skills you’d need to master if you ever moved in together or got married.

Also look at some areas of your life where you can cut down on costs. I’m sure you’ve done this already, but why not review it? Maybe you’re spending a little more than necessary on groceries, on your car insurance, your phone, etc. Take a realistic accounting of everything, and consider using an app like Mint to help you keep track. This may enable you to do fewer Lyft hours.

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You may want to schedule in time for you to relax, solo. Do you get time by yourself ever? Like, not for work, nothing scheduled to do, just you chilling out? That’s important. It’ll keep you happier and healthier, just like financial solvency.

I believe in you, man! You can do this. And check out books like Suze Orman’s Young, Fabulous and Broke or Allen Carr’s Get Out Of Debt Now. There are plenty more – check out the reviews on Amazon, iTunes or elsewhere to see if you want to buy a book or do an audiobook. You can also talk to a financial coach or counselor online or in person. Creating a plan to include all your goals – social, emotional, financial, spiritual, physical, and beyond – could really help. But a guide or mentor may be the ideal individual to help you do this.

Finally, I have to say this: Your health comes first. Just repeat that to yourself as you go along and make decisions accordingly. Eventually, things will become clearer.