A growing body of research that suggests that having more money doesn’t make you happier, once you have enough. Granted, “enough” is hard to define, but most of us in America do have enough.
Most of us want more and that can hurt us in two ways. Ask yourself if either of these scenarios apply to you.
Wanting more, more, more
First, some of us spend so much time wanting more that we focus our lives around the acquisition of ever-greater amounts of money. That may manifest itself as picking up extra shifts to make a few extra bucks — regardless of the impact it may have on the family — or perhaps as violating one’s own moral code to do a deal to make some extra money. Some folks have invested college funds and retirement savings in high-risk ventures that they didn’t fully understand, ultimately leaving the family broke rather than well off.
The fact is that much of the effort we make to earn more money at the margin comes at a higher cost than we would choose to pay in hindsight. That isn’t to say that hard work isn’t required in life — it is. For every person born with a silver spoon in his mouth, a million others are born without one.
Ask yourself, what am I giving up to get ahead? If you don’t like the answer, don’t keep chasing that dream. Find a purpose and a passion in your life that will enrich your family without requiring a lot of money.
Spending tomorrow's cash today
The second way in which wanting more harms us is when we spend our future income (worse when we spend uncertain future income). When we borrow money to buy something we want but can’t afford now, we rob ourselves of future opportunities in myriad ways.
For instance, if we borrow $2,000 for a vacation that we can’t afford, once the vacation is over, we have nothing but memories. For months, or perhaps years, we’ll be paying for that vacation, sacrificing countless other things because we chose to spend money we didn’t have. When you consider that, with interest, the $2,000 could easily become a total of $2,500, we would be giving up 500 future $5 purchases.
Every time we have to say to ourselves, I can’t spend five lousy bucks on this because I took that vacation, the memory of that vacation will be tarnished.
When borrowing for the future becomes a pattern rather than the exception, bills mount, interest compounds and misery ensues. Money didn’t buy happiness; it bought sorrow.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.