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Money Isn’t Everything And It Isn’t You

Posted By Jim On 12/08/2006 @ 4:09 pm In Personal Finance | 37 Comments

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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