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Money Isn’t Everything And It Isn’t You

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One of the downsides of having a personal finance blog is that you often get stuck thinking and talking about the same stuff – taxes, salaries, retirement, blah blah blah; sometimes you need to take a step back and enjoy the things in life that aren’t related to money. See, life isn’t about making more money, it’s about being happy and enjoying the time that you have with the people that you care about. The funny thing about money is that if you let it become everything, you’ll find that you never have enough of it and you always want more. And the more that you get, the more you will want. It’s an endless cycle that can easily consume you if you’re not careful. How many “rich” and “successful” people ask themselves what happened in their lives the last twenty years? How did their kids grow up so fast? How did they get so old?

Life is about happiness, not money.

The difficult thing about money is that when you don’t have much of it, you are almost forced to focus on getting more. The difference between earning $0 a year and $10,000 is seriously significant. It’s the difference between eating and not eating. The difference between $10,000 and $20,000 is also very seriously significant. Now take a look at the difference between $100,000 and $110,000… the difference is still “only” $10,000 but the actual impact on the quality of your life is much less significant than $0 to $10k increase.

When you’re making $0, you want to make more and you try whatever you can to put yourself in a position to make more because each extra dollar you earn means you or your loved ones will eat that night. In that mode, money is everything because you’re fighting to satisfy your need to eat and need for shelter. However, the sickening cycle is such that even when you’ve “made it,” you’ll want more because you’ve already pegged your happiness to how much money you’re making. The happiest families are the ones that enjoy what they have, even if it’s very little.

You are not your income. You are not your assets.

The second point I want to make is that you are not what you make or what you own. Someone who makes $10,000 is not a worse person than someone who makes $20,000 or even $200,000. Do not let your annual income define who you are and don’t chase after that extra dollar because you want to impress your peers.

There are some of the hardest working people, the nicest and kindest people, and some of the most generous people; busting their asses off for minimum wage. (the federal minimum wage is only $5.15, which means 50 weeks of 40 hours earns $10,300 – which is another issue entirely and a travesty of pretty epic proportions) I’d take any one of them working in a business I start over the hordes of useless middle managers in large corporations, even though the managers “earn” more in salary.

As always, if you have any thoughts on the matter, please do share!

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37 Responses to “Money Isn’t Everything And It Isn’t You”

  1. Terry Piatt says:

    Should the marketplace dictate housing attributes? (quality, size, etc? Or is that something government should impose on everyone, even if doing so prices out the bottom economic tier and thus causes homelessness?

    To SCapitalist: where I work we have no internal advancement opportunities and four college graduates earning minimum wage; two are over 50 and on the basis of age are effectively unemployable anywhere else. Got any suggestions for them?

    • mysticaltyger says:

      >

      I find it surprising that college grads couldn’t do at least a little better than that. But assuming you are correct and is is not possible for them to get paid better somewhere else, it may be too late for the 50 year olds. That said, the larger problem I see in America is that too many people put the cart before the horse in everything they do and then assume “things will work out”. 1/3 of our children are born out of wedlock (that’s financial suicide right there). And TONS of people simply do not save when they do make living incomes. They act as if they will be able to earn X income or more for the rest of their working lives. BIG MISTAKE! I’m 37, live in a high cost area, have never made more than 50K a year at my job, and have 164K in long term savings / investments. Assuming an 8% return, I could stop saving right now and have a nest egg of over 450K at age 50. 450K will not be a fortune when I’m 50 (it isn’t now), but it will certainly keep me from needing to take some crappy minimum wage job when I’m 50. Unfortunately, most Americans never plan for the worst case scenario and then they wonder why they’re always living at or near “crisis” mode.

  2. Dirk says:

    I disagree. The difference between an income of $100000 and $110000 is that it gives you the freedom of one year at $10000 instead of $0. If you save the $10k up, that is.

    Once you have more money than you can (reasonably) spend, though, working for money makes no sense.

    I suggest the book “Your Money or Your Life”.

  3. Dblog says:

    I am with the StubbornCapitalist on the minimum wage issue. Raising the minimum wage also creates more unemployment, and what is worse: someone with a low paying job who can work hard, save, get educated and eventually get ahead, or someone with no job, who’s a burden on government (tax payer) resources, who doesn’t contribute to the economy and who may resort to crime to get paid? Capitalism rewards working hard, working smart and discipline — the way it should be.

  4. Andre says:

    F****** morons…..

    ” Money isn’t everything” What bullshit- u know at the age of 23 I have some concepts about what money means to other people and what it means 2 me. Here are are the definite facts people that you will all come 2 realize unfortunately one day if u believe otherwise;

    1. Money is EVERYTHING
    2. God does not exist.
    3. Trust no one.
    4. The only two people who will every love and resepct you are your parents.
    5. Live life 2 the fullest

    Hmm..Let’s see… In the end, in d very end it all boils down to money.

    When I was younger I believed otherwise but as I grow older its all about money

    So there you go.

    Does happiness exist? Nope.
    Does love exist? Nope

    Nothing is free. It always seems u have to pay for everything

    In the end people its all fucking money

    Wow..I am not even an American and have to explain this shit 2 u

    Thanks

    Bye

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow man, you need some serious help haha, if all that you just said you really feel all at age 23, you need serious enlightenment, if you were older like end of the line and had the life you suggest, I could understand but it still wouldn’t justify your claims haha, I know plenty of happy people, its the ones who aren’t online worrying about how to be happy and how to make $ and blahblahblah, just do what you love, only you can find what makes you happy and it may take some $ but hey, that’s what work is for.its never too late, but it may take time, start now man, you can find that happiness, just be you, do your thang, don’t worry about internet finance blogs hahah they won’t get you anywhere even though my posy will be most useful thing you”ve read ;) GL man, and remember, its all about getting to afterlife, eternal happiness, that’s what religion is for, those who fear having nothing, its not wrong to have faith out of fear, its what we do, its normal so you know maybe pick up religion, helps many out, So point being, $ isn’t happiness nor is it life, it helps get some things which may bring temporary happnees but you can’t take it with you ;) life seems long but compared to forever, what’s 75 odd years or so, there you have it, enjoy what u have left, nd be optimistic, you’ll feel better and therfore be “happier!” Layta

  6. MoneyEnergy says:

    Well said, Jim. I’ve also thought before that money can very much (is?) everything until you’re making enough of it to survive, and perhaps even do a minimum of “thriving” (since I’m not sure it’s enough to just be able to sit in one’s shelter and eat).

    I guess the trick is learning what level “enough” is for you and then working hard to make the attitude shift away from acquiring/earning to pegging your happiness instead to purpose and enjoying. (though all the better the more you can enjoy life anyway, no matter how poor you are).

    I also know some very money-poor folk who are yet one of the happiest families I know.

  7. Anonymous says:

    i’m glad that i wasnt born into money because i wouldntw know about having morals or how the love for money brings out greed and you seem to forget about what is important. my goal is to have endless amount of money so i can give it away to those in need. it takes money to make money and it also takes all kinds of rich and poor people to make the world go around.


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