More than 22 million American jobs were lost in the past six months; stock markets have been up and down; and people are generally anxious about what’s in their bank accounts right now.

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If you’re lucky enough to have the funds you need despite all the recent economic turbulence, ask yourself one key question, says Bradley T. Klontz, an associate professor of financial psychology at Creighton University: “Why is it OK for you to have money when other people don’t?”


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Answering this question is not about comparing your finances to anyone else’s, he told The New York Times. It’s about seeing money as a tool, rather than as a measuring stick.

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Having a satisfying answer is crucial, “particularly if you come into money fast,” he says. “If you don’t have a good answer, you’re going to sabotage yourself. You’re going to find ways to get rid of it.” Or, he warns, you could end up feeling disconnected from and less active in your community. Remember that “we’re here to make the world a better place,” and money can help you do that.

Wasting time on comparisons or feeling guilty isn’t helpful as it can lead to impulsive decisions or distract from your long-term financial goals. Instead, it’s important to know how to maintain a budget no matter your net worth, and to understand how you earned your money and what you want to do with it, including how it can help you make good, productive decisions.

Understand what money means to you—and have a plan

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  • I recommend directing extra cash to any tax-advantaged accounts offered by your employer, or making additional payments on any debts you owe.
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If we’re lucky, there comes a point in our lives when we don’t have an immediate need for every dollar we earn. Some think of that as “extra” money, though I think it is important to point out that there is no such thing as extra money. Every dollar we earn serves some purpose in our lives – even the ones we donate to others in need. However, it is fair to say that as our incomes rise and expenses stay the same, each additional dollar earned becomes tougher and tougher to find an immediate use for. 

One way to help solve this conundrum of “too much cash” is to consider your financial priorities. Then, list them out. And, finally, rank them. Once you have that list of what matters the most, it becomes easier to decide what to do with any excess cash.

Any cash that is creating a larger-than-usual or larger-than-necessary balance in your main checking account should likely be repurposed on an ongoing basis. For instance, if you’ve developed

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