I’m not rich. And I don’t care. Well, sort of. I remember a job I once had. When the supervisor position opened up at the company, I considered applying. The raise would have amounted to about $4000 more a year.
I called a friend, who was a supervisor at a different company, and asked him whether he thought it was a good move. He said no. The amount of stress and responsibility in the supervisor’s job way exceeded the benefit of the pay increase. Then he said, “Besides, it’ll just be like a couple extra hundred dollars in your paycheck. In a couple of months you won’t even feel like you got a raise.”
Every day we’re bombarded with articles, schemes and scams about getting rich, or making more money, or which jobs pay better. Typical Yahoo headlines are: 5 Easy Ways to Save Money, Most Underpaid Jobs in U.S. and 10 Most Overpaid Jobs. We’re all looking for the money. Times are tough and job security seems like a thing of the past. It also feels as though pay has not kept up with inflation. In the boom of 2006-2008, right before the crash, things felt good. But it was false, and now we’re feeling the pinch. So what gives?
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We give up on our dreams because we need money. The person who wants to be an artist gives up on painting because she needs to pay bills. She becomes a radiologist or a nurse because those jobs are in demand and they pay well. They also offer some security.
But what’s better, to be poor and do what you love, or to be making a steady paycheck and be miserable?
The answer to this question lies within each individual. But one thing I can say is that we all need money, and a lot of it. When the average car costs half the average yearly salary of a worker, tuition costs are skyrocketing and homes are almost unaffordable, one can certainly make the case for the need for cash. But is that all there is? Here’s my shtick: If you can free your mind, you can free your wallet. By this I mean that it’s all in the mind. To have a new car, to have nice clothes, to eat at nice restaurants, to travel, to impulse shop, to have premium cable channels, fancy smartphones; these things are all in our minds. They are pushed upon us by a consumer society where the economy thrives based on our spending habits. But if you can free your mind of the lies, you will find happiness outside of financial success.
We obsess over money. We stress over money. We budget and then we break the budget. Then there are medical emergencies, and what about retirement?
Well, I’ll tell you this: It’s all a big corporate lie. If you can free your mind of the need to consume or worry about how others see you, you will find true freedom. And I’m not talking about being poor. I mean living simply. Making your car last 10 or 15 years instead of changing it every three to five years. I am talking about saving for emergencies, college and retirement, without the stress.
I am not saying you should not be ambitious. But ambition does not always have to be about having more money, more toys for your kids, and more…stuff. Ambition is about achieving, and this means achieving happiness, achieving a balance where you can spend time with yourself and your loved ones without worrying about how you’re going to pay your bills.
Think of it like a diet. Most dietitians will tell you it’s about changing your lifestyle, otherwise you will regain the weight you lost. It’s the same with the mindset over money. You need to change the way you think about stuff and the way you view the world. When you do, you will find all this consumerism utterly ridiculous. Once you do that, your creativity will surge and you will find time to enjoy life. You won’t stress over the cable bill, or the car payment.
Financial freedom, like happiness, is a state of mind.