The Deathbed Test

I know it’s a little morbid but I did just visit the Mutter Museum 🙂  And everyone else keeps talking about bucket lists and fill-the-bucket lists (thank you, Maggie over at Northern Expenditure for putting a slightly less morbid spin on things), so I figured I’d give it a go! 

Elimination And Evaluation

The beauty of focusing so much attention on financial freedom is that we have most of it automated and know that if we stay the course, we will succeed.  And with each passing month, we see our numbers inching up and feel just a little better about the state of our finances.  Alleviating this stressor is huge, and something many people never accomplish.  Believe me, I know.  My mother has always been terrible with money.  She has paid her bills on time every month for as long as I have been alive, but she blows the rest.  Now she is 70 years old and lives in a constant state of anxiety over whether or not she has enough money for groceries and medications each month.

Mr. MMM and I have chosen a different path.  By doing so, we don’t worry at all about money.  And yes, we do help my mother when it becomes necessary.  I sometimes wish I could reach our goals faster, but I’m an impatient person.  It will come.  Eliminating anxiety from finances means we get to focus on the things that really matter.  We get to focus on our family, friends, and passions.

There have been times in my life where I have needed to step back and evaluate situations and people causing me anxiety.  During these times, I utilize one of two mental tests I have developed for myself over the years…

Test 1:  The Deathbed Test

Again, morbid, I know.  But, think about it, when a situation causes you anxiety, ask yourself how much time you will spend worrying about this situation when you’re on your deathbed.  This usually works in a flash and I get over it very quickly.  I work in an industry where a simple mistake is not a simple mistake.  All mistakes are called deviations and are invested by a team of people with labcoats and spreadsheets.  If the mistake turns out to be human error, you could get a disciplinary letter in your file.  Yikes!  These are times when I utilize The Deathbed Test.  When I’m at home with my family and trying to enjoy our time together but my mind is racing, thinking about the mistake I made and whether or not I’ll be blamed, I ask myself this question: In the grand scheme of my life, when I’m on my deathbed, how much will this work mistake mean to me?  The answer is inevitably, audible laughter.  Because I won’t care, AT ALL.

Test 2:  The Holiday Test

deathbed2

Yeah, I know it’s a Mad Men cartoon-but it’s quite appropriate.

Another mental test I like to use for situations involving specific people is The Holiday Test.  If I start to worry about my interactions with another person, or whether or not they like me, or whether or not they’re going to think ill of me for one reason or another, I ask myself: How many holidays will I spend with this person?  If the answer is audible laughter, I don’t give them a second thought.  If the answer is EVERY holiday, then I devote some energy into addressing the situation.

The fact remains, however morbid, that we are only here for a finite amount of time.  We need to think of our time as precious.  We need to spend it wisely, just as we spend our money wisely.

So, there you have it!  Now I ask you, in the grand scheme of your life, what really matters?

Bailey Gato BW

MMC – Minimal Style

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Lisa is the creator and resident writer at Mad Money Monster. She's a mother, scientist, and financial guru on a mission to save Generation X from working until they die!

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12 comments… add one
  • FirstHabit Mar 9, 2017, 5:18 pm

    I’ve been thinking a bunch about this as well. It goes hand-in-hand with personal finance because knowing what you want from life is the “why” and the finance is the “how.” If you’re interested, take a look at my take on it. http://bit.ly/deadsoon

  • Generation YRA Jan 30, 2016, 2:52 pm

    These tests are great – and I definitely think you should check out the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown (I just finished it last night)! The theme of this book pairs incredibly well with this post. What is it like to be Essential in life vs. Non-Essential? It’s so true that people allow trivial matters, and take on too much to attempt to make others happy. Your tests definitely provide perspective when it comes to any & all situations!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2016, 11:39 am

      Thanks! I have a tendency to overreact at times-these tests are a great way to keep myself in check. Hopefully I was able to help some other people by sharing them 🙂

  • John Jan 30, 2016, 6:11 am

    Great tips to remind us that the catastrophe of the day probably really isn’t a catastrophe. I’ve thought back to situations that seemed dire at the time – and maybe they were – but now I see that my anxiety at the time really wasn’t warranted and didn’t help the situation.

    Now if I could just keep such a level head about today’s catastrophes!!

    John

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2016, 11:46 am

      I do the same thing. I often think of things in the past that caused me great anxiety and sleepless nights. In the end, it’s ridiculous to “sweat the small stuff.”

  • Anonymous Jan 30, 2016, 2:37 am

    This is brilliant and I just sent the link to my husband. As a side note, my boss is getting older and she is starting to get forgetful (so I know this is terrible) but I remind myself that she will probably not remember any stupid stuff that I have done. That takes a lot of stress off of me.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 1, 2016, 11:46 am

      Most stuff in our lives is small stuff. We shouldn’t “sweat the small stuff.” 😉

  • The Personal Economist Jan 29, 2016, 6:35 pm

    I often ask myself is anybody going to die? I’m not s doctor so the answer is always no 🙂

  • Shannon Jan 29, 2016, 10:24 am

    Similar to the holiday test: http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html

    I found this through someone’s blog a few weeks ago and it was mind-blowing to me when I first saw it. Time is not infinite for any of us.

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