We were sitting on a blanket, enjoying a picnic on an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon in May. He continued, “I like doing things like this way more than I like having money, so I’m not going to get myself into a situation that forces me to come into the office on a Sunday.”
This started a fun conversation, about how the people that work the hardest are often the least well compensated, and the people that make the most money are often doing very little in the way of work.
But it also got me thinking about my money goals. So far, they’ve been specific and finite. Pay off credit cards. Pay off student loans. Pay off car. After the specifics are finished, they get more vague. Start investing. Save up for a rainy day/month/year. I’ve always thought about how nice it would be to make more money, so I could reach my goals faster.
But maybe it’s better to simply rethink my money goals.
Make Enough Money To Be Content
According to this article in Time Magazine, money does buy happiness, but only to a point. After your salary surpasses $75,000, more money earned does not make you happier or less stressed. It makes sense, too. Making $75,000 a year does not bump you into the “I only fly first class” category of travelers, nor does it make you look through the yacht catalogs to find out which one you want. It does, however, make it possible to save half your income and still have room in your budget to spend money on the things that matter.
Be More Generous
I have been on the receiving end of generosity my whole life. I’d like to get to a point where I can more easily return the favor. Picking up the tab more often when going out with friends, donating more to charity, voting with my dollars in every decision, are all things I’d like to do one of these days. It’s a blessing and a curse to have real-life friends read my blog. They can look at my balance sheet and think, “you know what? we’ll buy dinner,” and my friends are very hard to convince to let me treat them.
But remember, generosity is one of the essential keys to building wealth.
Maintain A Work-Life Balance
The best things in life are free, right? So it stands to reason that the more time you spend at the office, the less time you have to enjoy the little free things that come along. We can’t spend our lives waiting until quitting time, working for the weekend, using our precious vacation time. That’s no way to live. It is more important to spend time with friends and family than it is to have “boat money” or whatever it is rich people spend their money on. Now, having “let’s rent a boat” money? That’s something I’ll always be okay with.
There’s so much world out there and I’m itching to see more of it. I love to travel. I love domestic travel, I love international travel. I love the ritual of getting to the airport and buying candy (I know that is the five-year-old inside me, and sometimes, I just want to feed her Sour Patch Kids!). I love being extra nice to the people who work in airports, since they have to deal with people who are often at their worst. I love seeing other travelers and people meeting travelers at the gate. I want to do more of it.
Retire Someday, Comfortably
I like to work, and I like being good at something, so I’m decidedly not in the “let’s retire early” camp. I hold no judgment to those who are in that camp, but I’d prefer to do more traveling while I’m younger and still able to work. But I don’t have kids, and I’m not 100% sure I want them, so I can’t rely on them to take care of me when I’m old and frail, so I need to save enough money to retire comfortably. Part of that plan is having free housing, so the plan is to have zero mortgage by the time I’m ready to stop working. Passive income would be spectacular as well.
So, those are my goals. I don’t aspire to graduate out of the middle class, and I don’t have delusions that someday I’ll attract some member of American nobility and spend my summers in the Hamptons and my winters in Switzerland. My goal is happiness, not wealth. Staying true to my frugal and minimalist roots will help me remain happy for all the rest of my days.
What about you? What are your money goals?
Kathleen writes about her path to financial independence as well as ways to save money, live simply, and enjoy the fun things that life has to offer.