…is what you get when you can’t think beyond the bottomline. It’ll happen both in business life as well as in home life. Be afraid of this disease because it’ll strip anything it’s infected of excitement and intrigue, and leave you with boring, lackluster results. See penny pinching, lack of creativity, being inside the box, and high levels of anxiety as you pounce on each chance to cut costs as some of the symptoms of bottomline disease.

Now, setting your sights on the bottomline isn’t always bad. Sometimes people and companies are just out of control, and need to be reined in. Fair enough. Sometimes that’s an easy way to come back to reality. However, if you think that you live and die by the bottomline, then you’re probably going to die anyway. In business you live and die by innovation, which requires that you have your sights focused outward while budgets and such are focused inward.

The same is true for home life. Budgets focus you inward. They’re great if you’re having a problem, and need boundaries set. However, that could trap you in the money box. Your stare is so focus on those budget numbers that you miss great opportunities. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to start spending loads of money, but focusing on what you already know as your spending habits can keep you from finding better spending habits, which might actually save you money.

And sometimes, you do just need to spend some money for a great experience. For instance, this trip that my friends and I came back from. It was cheaper than some trips, but more than others, and all of us being in our mid twenties, we might not have reserves of cash for such trips. One of my friends that went on the trip was in that situation.

With a new house under his belt, and still small (but growing) client base for his company, he wasn’t in the same financial situation as myself and our other friend who have much more financial flexibility at this point in life. We wanted him to join us on the trip, but missing mortgage payments afterwards isn’t an option in our book. We tried to encourage him to come, and we knew he wanted to, but at same point, there’s a line for too much financial struggling. Thankfully, he was able to put enough away before the trip to feel comfortable about going. He’d still be tight after the fact, but not missing any bills.

In my opinion, our trip was a once in a life time trip that’s well worth the cost (well, once in a life time trip until our next one around the Mediterranean – I love traveling and experiencing new people, places, and cultures). Had my friend only been watching the bottomline, he’d probably have missed that experience. Heck, he probably wouldn’t have even thought of joining us in the first place. It helps once you know you need the help, like trying to make the cut for this trip, but doesn’t help leading up to it.

Bottomline focus can be infectious. In the short term, it tends to help. You see your costs going down. That feels good because you should have more cash on hand. Great. But, that’ll only get you so far. It follows the law of diminishing returns, which is when your blinders are turned on, and you can’t see opportunities passing you by. As long as you’re aware that bottomline activities such as budgeting are short term activities meant to fix short term habits, you should be fine. A penny saved is a penny earned, but a dollar missed and a life passed by just aren’t worth it.