Money, money, money, money…
I’ll start out by stating, what you grew up with is what you know.
It is vital to make that statement because this post could be poorly construed as pointing fingers in someway, but it is not. We learn from our parents and our surroundings. Our parents learned from their parents and their surroundings during past times and past ideas. Generations and generations before us, evidently mold us into who we are today. That isn’t to say, we get all our bad traits and bad ideas from our parents just as they didn’t get all of theirs from their parents. We take what we know and what we were taught from our families and then go out into the real world and make decisions based off of that coupled with the information we receive from outsiders… friends, professors, work buddies, media, and much more.
How does this have anything to do with money? It does. I promise you.
Today, as I look at the people surrounding me, I’m noticing how everyone has such nice property. I’m talking of cars, houses, decor, phones, technology, clothes. The list goes on and on and I by no means intend to exclude myself from this lot. It feels nice to have those things sometimes, but the other day I looked at my phone bill and thought, “why?” Why was I paying that ridiculous price for a smartphone? I really don’t need one anymore and yet we pay way too much for it. I look at all our beautiful possessions inside our four walls. I look at our house, our vehicles, and wonder what do we really need?
One reason this comes to mind is because our house is old, like nearly 100 years old. It has been added on to and has been updated quite a bit, but it is still old and there are so many doorways and walls between rooms it begins to feel small. With four children and family coming to visit as frequently as they can, it can feel like we’re bumping into each other every time I pass another human being. My way of resolving that: find a new house, in fact, let’s find a bigger house. We can surely afford so much more now than when we purchased this home over 5 years ago. I also consider a better vehicle, because though we can fit everyone comfortably, we can only bring one extra passenger with us. We’ve outgrown our car, “Let’s get a bigger one!” Luckily, I have a husband with a sound mind.
My husband’s response to me wanting a bigger home and even a bigger car at this time is, “I’d like to retire one day.” Think about that. How many people acquire more and more stuff, and the loans that come with them, only to still live paycheck to paycheck… even on a $200,000 or more income. What is our money really getting us? It seems like, more debt. As mentioned before this could be a learned behavior handed down by family, or it could be a plain old keeping up with the Joneses.
Learning not to care about the Joneses is difficult, especially because most of the time our neighbors are in the same “boat” as we’re in. They bring in about the same amount of money. They have the same number of kids. Maybe on the outside that Jones family looks as if they’re doing better with less, but it may not be the case. Even if it is, why do you care? We all know to mind our own business, but we rarely follow that advice. That dang Facebook and Instagram makes everything look rosy, cheerful, and near perfection more often than it really is.
What does money really get us?
Does purchasing more get us more or less bills?
If I buy the latest phone, my bill goes up, was it worth the gain? If I buy a new car, my payment grows, was it worth the gain? If I truly need something what is wrong with getting a basic model? What do I gain with all the bells and whistles? (more things to break and pay to fix, in my opinion) What are you gaining with obtaining more or “better”?
Would we be better off with endless options?
Seems like having endless options would be wonderful, but what happens when it all becomes overwhelming. If I buy more clothes, I have more laundry to wash and fold. If I buy a bigger house, it takes much longer to clean. If the yard is also bigger, then I’ll spend more time on my days off maintaining that too. If the kids have a bunch of toys, that is more toys to put away, and if your kids are like mine, they hate playing in a messy toy room.
Sometimes, though, there really is a need for bigger and even better. This is where your pros and cons list come in. A bigger home may work for you if you like to entertain and you frequently have guests stay overnight. A bigger car may be a necessity if you’ve outgrown the car you already have. It isn’t my intention to say you shouldn’t want nice things, my point is you shouldn’t want for things your neighbor has or the things society tells you you need. If you listen to the social cues around you, you may end up living paycheck to paycheck no matter how much money you bring in.
Moral of the story, if you’re still young enough, consider putting the need for “bigger and better” on the back shelf. You may actually feel richer with less.