The Gladiator (2000)
Buffer's are important because they let you focus on what matters to you. I spoke about Maslow's Hierarchy in 'No Pudding Without Creativity'. The stuff that counts is higher up, but the stuff you do first is at the bottom. If you are worried about what you are going to eat today, where you are going to sleep, or whether someone is going to kill you - you do what you have to do.
We don't really have free choice in the sense that we can do whatever we want. We can do whatever we want with the situation we are in and the tools we have at hand. We tend to underestimate those tools and what we can do, but we can't really use them if we are living hand to mouth. Without a buffer, noise matters. You have to deal with every situation and in a very real way, every day becomes the boss of you.
The extreme example of being able to ignore noise are the uber wealthy like Warren Buffet. Here are a couple examples of 'Noise' that doesn't really matter (Yes, $1bn can become noise):
This noise doesn't matter to Mr Buffett because it doesn't affect the food he puts in his mouth, the roof over his head, or the woman he gets to kiss. He has a rather large buffer. It doesn't have to be that big though. You just have to think of the things that can blow you out of the water (what would happen if you got disabled? Buy a buffer with disability insurance) and protect against them, and then live beneath your means for long enough that you don't have to panic about the next few years. Effectively, so you get to the point where you are 'self-insured' against the noise.
When panic subsides. When you breathe properly. When you open your toolbox and see what else is available.
You make good decisions.