Your Money or Your Life

 

Quick question: how many people do you know whose life ambition is to make a whole lot of money?

Probably quite a few; I can think of a dozen without even trying. It’s a very common theme to want lots of dough, especially in the consumer-centric United States. Having lots of money is associated with having lots of class, style, sexy friends and fancy cars. Rich people eat the best food, travel in private jets, wear the most daring clothing and life the fullest lives.

And in some cases, this stereotype is true. Some people who have lots of money also lead very full lives, enjoying almost every moment, waking up in the morning and looking forward to the day.

In many, many cases, however, rich people are unhappy. Very unhappy. So unhappy in fact, that they end up getting themselves into all kinds of scandals, constantly seek new and dangerous situations and essentially throwing themselves at anything or anyone who they think will make them FEEL something.

But why!? Why would these people who have all this money — which is ostensibly the yardstick of a person’s success — want to do these crazy things? Why can’t they just be happy?

It’s because they are treating money as life’s purpose, rather than as the means of achieving a richer life. Instead of thinking “what can I do with the money that I have?” they are thinking “what can I do to get more money?”

This kind of lifestyle is a dreadful misallocation of a person’s most valuable resource: time.

If you want to have a healthy relationship with money, look at it as an IOU. Your paper currency is a representation of your effort that you can exchange for the effort of someone else. You are converting your hard work into things that you want and experiences that you want to have. Going after money for money’s sake is a waste of time and effort.

At its best, money allows you to influence events and move the world, even if just a little bit. One hundred dollars, thoughtfully applied, can lead to the most important experience of your life. On the other hand, one million dollars that is wasted away on pointless frivolities could go completely unnoticed in the grand scheme of things as well as your own mental scrapbook.

So before you start making goals that include ‘making $1 million’ or ‘getting a job that pays me $100,000 per year,’ think it through and be sure you know what the trade off is.

You don’t want to be stuck trading your most precious commodity — your time — in the pursuit of paper IOU’s. Governments can always print more money, but every second you spend is a second you can never get back.

Money is a means, not an end. When spending your time, always make sure the exchange rate is in your favor.

21 comments

  1. Pingback: The more we have, the less we appreciate

  2. @Raam: Thanks for the sizable and well thought out response (in blog form), Raam! It’s clear that you feel very strongly about this point, and it was a pleasure reading such a well articulated opinion!

  3. @Raam: Thanks for the sizable and well thought out response (in blog form), Raam! It’s clear that you feel very strongly about this point, and it was a pleasure reading such a well articulated opinion!

  4. The problem is with the goal-setting. Many people make it a goal to have lots of money but that is not a goal. The goal is what the money can buy you… For example, my goal is to have a home where all of my children can have their own bedroom and live in a city but with trails nearby. I also want to be independent enough to work part-time and be able to take time off when necessary.

    I need not be a multi-billionaire to reach this lifestyle but it is still a lofty goal and one that I will need to work for.

  5. The problem is with the goal-setting. Many people make it a goal to have lots of money but that is not a goal. The goal is what the money can buy you… For example, my goal is to have a home where all of my children can have their own bedroom and live in a city but with trails nearby. I also want to be independent enough to work part-time and be able to take time off when necessary.

    I need not be a multi-billionaire to reach this lifestyle but it is still a lofty goal and one that I will need to work for.

  6. Hello. This is kind of an “unconventional” question , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu bar to look like you’ve got it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am scared to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this …so i am just not positive exactly how to try to to it all yet. I’ll just keep working on it one day at a time Thanks for any help you can offer here.

  7. Hello. This is kind of an “unconventional” question , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu bar to look like you’ve got it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am scared to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this …so i am just not positive exactly how to try to to it all yet. I’ll just keep working on it one day at a time Thanks for any help you can offer here.

  8. Hello. This is kind of an “unconventional” question , but have other visitors asked you how get the menu bar to look like you’ve got it? I also have a blog and am really looking to alter around the theme, however am scared to death to mess with it for fear of the search engines punishing me. I am very new to all of this …so i am just not positive exactly how to try to to it all yet. I’ll just keep working on it one day at a time Thanks for any help you can offer here.

  9. I have a friend who’s main focus in life is making money, he is on £450 a day and won’t take a holiday or a day off because he won’t get paid. I found this a bit backwards really. He collects money for the sake of it with no realisation of the waste of time it is.

    He has been paid great wages for years now, owns 2 houses, fancy cars but has not taken a holiday for years.

    All his status’s on Facebook are about his latest possessions and the weekends for him are about drinking so much that he can’t remember what happened the night before. To him, that equates to an “awesome night”. To someone who values every minute, this seems madness to me.

    How can someone be so clueless when it comes to the opportunities his money could bring to him and how do you start to try and change his views before one day he wakes up at 50 and he suddenly realises that he has achieved nothing in life.

  10. I have a friend who’s main focus in life is making money, he is on £450 a day and won’t take a holiday or a day off because he won’t get paid. I found this a bit backwards really. He collects money for the sake of it with no realisation of the waste of time it is.

    He has been paid great wages for years now, owns 2 houses, fancy cars but has not taken a holiday for years.

    All his status’s on Facebook are about his latest possessions and the weekends for him are about drinking so much that he can’t remember what happened the night before. To him, that equates to an “awesome night”. To someone who values every minute, this seems madness to me.

    How can someone be so clueless when it comes to the opportunities his money could bring to him and how do you start to try and change his views before one day he wakes up at 50 and he suddenly realises that he has achieved nothing in life.

  11. I have a friend who’s main focus in life is making money, he is on £450 a day and won’t take a holiday or a day off because he won’t get paid. I found this a bit backwards really. He collects money for the sake of it with no realisation of the waste of time it is.

    He has been paid great wages for years now, owns 2 houses, fancy cars but has not taken a holiday for years.

    All his status’s on Facebook are about his latest possessions and the weekends for him are about drinking so much that he can’t remember what happened the night before. To him, that equates to an “awesome night”. To someone who values every minute, this seems madness to me.

    How can someone be so clueless when it comes to the opportunities his money could bring to him and how do you start to try and change his views before one day he wakes up at 50 and he suddenly realises that he has achieved nothing in life.

  12. Money is a funny thing really. Although, I believe it is necessary and important the real underlining issue here is how one obtains their money. I believe, and I am sure Colin would agree, that people have to figure out how to make a decent living by doing something they love.

    When your work becomes play the money will come naturally. When money becomes the muse you will probably never attain it… or be unhappy in the journey.

  13. Money is a funny thing really. Although, I believe it is necessary and important the real underlining issue here is how one obtains their money. I believe, and I am sure Colin would agree, that people have to figure out how to make a decent living by doing something they love.

    When your work becomes play the money will come naturally. When money becomes the muse you will probably never attain it… or be unhappy in the journey.

  14. Money is a funny thing really. Although, I believe it is necessary and important the real underlining issue here is how one obtains their money. I believe, and I am sure Colin would agree, that people have to figure out how to make a decent living by doing something they love.

    When your work becomes play the money will come naturally. When money becomes the muse you will probably never attain it… or be unhappy in the journey.

  15. So so true! I feel like I preach this all the time to blank stares and deaf ears.  One of my favorite quotes (and that i begrudgingly put on my facebook profile despite the slight tackiness of using quotes on “the book”) is:

     “The desire of gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit.” – Emmerson

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