More money is the key to happiness, right? Though that’s what the magazine ads and television commercials would have you believe, lately I’m not so sure. I always pursued money thinking it was the answer to all that I lacked. Money would buy me things and elevate me to a more prestigious social class. But at the end of the day, those things don’t matter. So, why do I want more money?
Our Spending Diet
For the past four years, Andrew and I have been on a money journey. We woke up one day and realized we were behind on our bills and didn’t have enough money to pay them. If you’ve never found yourself in this situation before, consider yourself lucky. To be fair, we never faced a shut-off notice — but we did have to slash our spending and stop buying pretty much everything.
This was our first spending diet. To get back on track, we canceled cable TV and for the next three months we committed to:
- No going out to eat
- Limiting our grocery budget to $400 a month
- Not driving anywhere unless we had to (this saved on gas)
- No other unnecessary spending
After three months, we did miss going out to eat. But the rest? I didn’t miss it. Sure, there were a few things we missed, but not much. Mostly, Andrew missed going to the movies, and I missed buying purses and shoes.
Admittedly, I could live without purses and shoes — those don’t enrich your life, anyway. But since Andrew is a huge movie-goer, and it makes for a great date-night together, we figured out a way to fit movies into our budget.
But from then on, we stuck to our spending diet.
And not only did we get caught up on bills, but we managed to pay off $30,000 in debt over the next two years. Pretty remarkable, right?
Earning More and Spending More
Even after all of that, I felt trapped. Sticking to a budget long-term isn’t fun, and I was starting to resent it. I found myself saying, “I want more money!”
I somehow fell into the idea of writing as a side-business and started freelance writing for a few real estate clients to earn a few extra bucks. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and I found that I’m pretty good at it. Plus, this solved my “I want more money” problem — except that it didn’t.
Andrew and I had terrible spending habits and, instead of using the extra money to put us in a better financial position, we were using it to supplement our lifestyle. We used it to pay for going out to eat when we were too lazy to cook at home, clothes that we didn’t need, and a myriad of small expenses that added up to big spending at the end of the month.
Having more money made our spending problem worse, instead of better.
The Real Reason I Want More Money
Finding out that money didn’t make life any easier was life changing for me. If having more money didn’t make me happier, then why did I want more of it?
As it turns out, money isn’t everything.
Money doesn’t give me more time with my family. It doesn’t make better memories or slow down the passing of time.
And that’s when it hit me. The real reason I want more money is to have more options.
I don’t want a luxurious lifestyle. Sure, traveling more and seeing the world sounds nice but what I sought in life wasn’t money — it’s the options that having money would give me.
If I had more money, I could enjoy options like:
- Not having to stay at a job I don’t love because I have car payments
- Staying in touch with friends by seeing them in person more often
- Giving my parents the retirement they deserve
- Avoid paying high interest on credit card debt
- Not worrying about how to pay for household repairs and maintenance
- The option to retire early
That last one is the real sticking point. Could you imagine a life where you didn’t have to work until you’re 65? Can you imagine being able to spend more time doing the things you love — your hobbies, traveling, spending time with your kids and grandkids — because you managed to take control of your money and build a life of financial freedom?
And that’s the real reason I want more money. While money doesn’t buy happiness, it does give you freedom and the chance to have more options to build the life you dream of.