Money Talks, So Should You

40-Something Frugalista: The rules and mantras that get me through life

by T.L., Dimespring 30 (@beachbudget)

Everyone at some point has probably seen Stuart Smalley's Daily Affirmations on Saturday Night Live. His mantra: "...because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!"

We laugh at the cheesiness of it, but I'm a firm believer in mantras. Along with mantras, I also have "rules" I like to live by.

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Setting yourself up with positive guidelines can help you handle stressful times in life, including stressful financial times.

My rules and mantras:

1. Keep your side of the street clean. It's easy to get caught up in someone else's drama, or compare your life to someone else's, but if you follow this rule, you begin to feel a lot calmer because your energy is only focused on what you're doing, not on anyone else.

If you find yourself wondering how all your friends manage to go on fabulous trips, or how your neighbor can drive that fancy car, remember it doesn't matter what they are doing, if you keep your side of the street clean.

2. Let it go. I can't tell you how many times I repeat this mantra to myself. Too much of our lives are spent ruminating on things that happened in the past that we can't change. I do this if I find myself thinking about past financial mistakes I made. Saying the words "let it go" out loud helps me begin to release some of those negative thoughts.

3. Take the high road. Whatever negative situation I come across in life, I always try to take the high road. Sometimes it gets really tempting to want to fight fire with fire, but to sink to low levels just to be right or prove a point just makes you look bad, and can give you a bad reputation.

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Where this fits into my life most is with freelancing. It's very easy to want to bad mouth a pain in the ass client, but I find that kind of action can come back to haunt me, and cost me a job or future freelance work. Related rule: Don't burn bridges.

4. You are responsible for your own life. This has to be one of my favorite rules. I hate the victim mentality. Everything that happens to you, whether it's good or bad, is your responsibility.

I didn't ask to have my car break down on the freeway (this really happened to me last week), but no one is to blame. I have to own the experience and do my best to form a positive outlook about the situation.

5. Breathe. When all else fails, just breathe. It's the most basic of human functions, yet we take it for granted. And when things get crazy, we hold our breath, or our breathing becomes shallow.

I found myself having to take moments this past weekend to sit and just focus on my breath, as the mechanic kept calling me and adding more repairs to my car.

6. Choose your battles wisely. Battles take a lot of energy, time, and possibly resources. If you're going to battle, make sure it's one worth fighting. If you're on the phone screaming and yelling at a customer service representative over a $5 mistake, but are getting nowhere, then it might be time to let it go.

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Right now I have a guy who rents my garage. He is ALWAYS late with his payments, but does eventually pay around the 5th of the month or so. I could (and possibly might have to) start to get a little more aggressive, charging him late fees per our contract, but I'd like to keep the peace as much as possible. It's just easier that way. Related rule: You attract more bees with honey.

7. Be Grateful. Even when you're going through a rough time, find a reason to be grateful. It can change your whole perspective. Your worst day is probably someone's best day.

8. Don't take it personally. This rule comes from The Four Agreements, and one rule I have to remind myself all the time. Most things that go wrong have nothing to do with you. That guy who cut you off in traffic isn't mad at you; he probably just had a bad day. The less you take things personally, the easier life gets.

What rules or mantras help get you through life?

T.L. is a freelance video editor and blogger living in Los Angeles. She enjoys movies, running and playing beach volleyball. You can follow her personal finance journey on her blog at Budget & the Beach, and follow her on twitter at @beachbudgetT.L. is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.