It’s hard to live in our culture and not think that money is the center of our universe, based on what shows up in the news and in our daily lives.
People appear to be happier when they have more money, or have a lot of expensive gadgets that money can buy.
But does having more wealth make you happier? Will money solve most of your problems?
These are questions I have asked myself over the years. This comes from an increasing desire to grow our wealth as we’ve gotten older. Our jobs have become more stressful, and we don’t like the idea in having to do the same things for the next 30+ years if we can avoid that option. We are also feeling our age a little more, being in our upper 30’s and seeing our kids enter their teenage years.
Weeding through what is true, right and smart can be difficult, when we see different ideas lived out around us.
Let’s Get Real
If we are going to base any conclusion on what we see in the world, we have to first ask ourselves this question: Is what we are seeing REAL?
The person who has a lot of stuff money can buy… are they really happy? Or do they get a lot of pleasure from seeing people’s reaction to what they buy and impressing others? Also, does this person I am seeing buying a ton of expensive things; can they actually afford what they are buying?
Typically what we see on the surface level is not a good indication of what is actually going on. The people who are less exuberant with their possessions might actually have the most money and be the happiest...even though that isn’t clear from the outside.
What is the measuring stick?
First off let’s define what is NOT the measuring stick. And that is what other people have or are doing. The only benefit in comparing yourself with others is to increase your arrogance/pride, and that is worthless. In fact, I would argue it is more harmful than being worthless. :)
Understanding what are the most important things in life is a deeply personal question, and it is not going to be the same for everyone. Learning what is worth pursuing will take time, maturity, and introspection.
For me, my family and my friends are what is most important to me right now. In fact, they are infinitely more valuable than money in itself. But I’m not going to sit here and pretend money doesn’t have value either. The value money and wealth provide me is freeing up my time to do whatever I want.
Having flexibility and freedom with my time is the true value in having truckloads of money.
The benefits also extend to having the ability to be as generous as you want to be. Wouldn’t it be incredible to be able to write a check for $5,000 towards a charity in need at the drop of a hat?
Your Desires Could Change
We might think we will know what is most important or what we want to do in the next 15-20 years. But the reality is no one can know what is going to happen in the future.
For example, right now we think that we will want to spend a large amount of our retirement years traveling. But it is possible that as we travel more, we learn that we enjoy staying closer to home. Or maybe instead of doing more traveling, we will want to rotate where we live in different parts of the world.
Having a large amount of wealth will give us the flexibility and freedom to change our plans as we see fit. We no longer depend on the paycheck from our jobs to cover our living expenses.
Being married also means that it isn’t just about what I want to do, but my partners dreams and goals as well.
If you woke up tomorrow and decided that you wanted to spend a few months in Europe, would you be able to easily do that? Obviously, there are other factors outside of money that might prevent you from making that quick of a decision… but having the wealth to be able to do things like this is the true power in having a ton of money.
I dream of a day where my schedule is wide open. Where I take my extended family on vacations. Grabbing my wife’s hand to sit her down at the table and planning everything we want to do over the summer. This is what I dream about and motivates me to continue growing our wealth.
Push Towards Your Goals and Creating Balance
It is important to understand where you want to go, but also not sacrifice what is most important to you.
Understanding the power that comes with money is great, and building your wealth is important. But we need to be cognitive about what we are doing in not sacrificing what we want out of life.
If I become wealthy but sacrifice the relationships with my family, is that cost worth the price? Is taking huge risks for the potential reward of huge gains, worth the risk in wiping out my family's financial security?
Thinking about these things has made me realize that yes money is important, but it is not the most important thing. Money is not going to make me a great father, husband, or friend. It makes some things easier, other things harder.
Pursuing wealth can easily turn into greed, and end up destroying the best things in life.
Wealth Does Not Equal Happiness
If money was the secret to happiness, everyone who has a ton of money would be happy. But looking around, this is definitely not the case.
Depression, loneliness, anxiety, isolation, etc. aren’t immune from the rich.
You can and should pursue what makes you happy before attaining your financial goals.
Not only will this make life more enjoyable, but it also will increase the likelihood of staying on track. It also will help you use your wealth more wisely, as you won’t expect money to give you what it can’t.
About Chris Roane
Chris lives in the upper midwest with his wife and two children. He is in his upper-30’s and is a web developer by trade. He loves to passionately get involved with his hobbies. Recently he has been learning and understanding the stock market, but he also likes to do woodworking, backpacking, and cooking. There are not many more things he enjoys doing more than smoking meats and hanging out with friends + family in the backyard.