By: Dividend Sensei
Most of the time that affirmation is from other people, either friends, family, or colleagues. So how does this tie back into working too hard and the daily grind of the rat race? Because too often people become so obsessed with earning money that we forget the most important thing about it.
Money is a tool, and nothing else. It’s literally a medium of exchange that lets us climb Maslow’s pyramid and live as well as we can. If you have none of it, then you are in trouble and obtaining some by any legal means is the priority. Because everyone needs to eat. But once you have enough for the basics, too many people get wrapped up in “keeping up with the joneses”. That means taking for granted what they have, and what used to be enough to make them happy.
For example if you get a raise at first you’re thrilled. The extra money hitting your bank account sends a shot of dopamine through the pleasure centers of your brain and you feel great. But over time you get used to the extra income. What’s worse? Most people tend to increase spending at the same rate, sometimes more. This ultimately leads to not just a poor savings rate, but a sad yearning for contentment and meaning that our culture tells us can be filled with ever larger quantities of more expensive material goods.
Not happy with your life? Then the Lexus “December to remember” event is for you! Won’t your family be thrilled and your neighbors impressed with your brand new luxury car. One that’s the pinnacle of opulence and the ultimate sign that you’ve “arrived”. Ironically enough I learned the truth about the shallowness of material happiness when I was at my most poverty stricken. Specifically back when I was in a terrible and failing marriage; living payback to paycheck in Alabama.
Once or twice a week, before things really got tight, my wife and I would go out to Chilis, which was our favorite restaurant. I loved the food, the service, the entire experience. But as our family finances spiralled ever downwards I could no longer enjoy even the brief happiness that a favorite meal out used to bring. That’s because I knew that we couldn’t really afford it. And without a solid financial footing, our joy would be replaced by stress, sorrow and misery soon enough. Basically I needed security, not tasty food.
I craved financial security and a knowledge that I, (and my wife), were living a sustainable life. One that was on the upswing and would eventually take us to our long-term goals. Eventually as things neared their climactic bottom, we lost the ability to spend on such luxuries and I am so glad we did.