17 Thoughts About Money

Some money stuff I’ve been thinking about lately:

1. Freedom is overrated as a financial goal. There are plenty of billionaires who can do whatever they want, whenever they want and spend as much money as they want. Many of these people still seem miserable or don’t take advantage of their perceived freedom.

Financial contentment is a better goal than financial freedom.

2. ‘Money can’t buy happiness’ is something only rich people say. It is true that money can’t buy happiness but it can provide comfort which is probably more important than happiness for most people struggling to make ends meet.

3. Money feels different in a tech-enabled world. I grew up using cash for everything. I saved cash in my top dresser drawer when I was a kid. I spent and budgeted using cash all the way through college.

Now 99.9% of my spending happens more or less electronically — credit cards, Apple Pay, saved information on my phone or computer.

There are pros and cons to this new world but it is different…and there’s no going back.

4. Outsourcing is money well spent. Time is a finite resource. Outsourcing services to people or businesses that have more expertise or resources than you is a good investment if it saves you time or stress.

5. True money contentment comes from accepting people dumber than you will be richer than you. In investing it’s important to remember there will always be people who are smarter than you.

It’s also important to remember there will always be people who are dumber or luckier than you who are also richer than you are.

Warren Buffett once said the reason for financial bubbles is “People see neighbors dumber than they are getting rich.”

Sometimes life isn’t fair. Get used to it.

6. Lifestyle creep is fine if you also have savings rate creep. Lifestyle creep is a derogatory term in personal finance but your lifestyle should get better as you earn more money and build wealth.

You just have to make sure as your income rises so does the amount of money you save. Keeping your savings rate the same (as a percentage of your income) is the simple fix here.

That way your spending and savings rise commensurately.

7. You should tip more the wealthier you get. Lots of people complain about tipping for everything these days. I get it but my feelings about tips for service professionals changed during the pandemic.

If you have the means you should tip more and stop complaining.

8. Most problems that can be solved using money aren’t real problems. Having a health scare or a death in the family will put your problems into perspective in a hurry.

Fixing your car or putting a new roof on your house can be a pain in the derriere but those aren’t real problems.

The stuff that really matters in life has nothing to do with money.

9. No one has a number. The goalposts are constantly moving because you feel differently about money as you age and your goals change. This is true of income and the size of your portfolio and everything else money-related.

The bad news is few people are ever content with how much money they have.

The good news is these feelings keep you moving forward to improve your station in life.

10. The best perspective about money comes from past versions of yourself. It’s impossible to keep up with all of the Joneses because the more wealth you accumulate, the more wealthy people you’re exposed to.

I find it helpful to look back at my own past to find gratitude when it comes to my financial picture.

My first salary out of school was bupkis. I didn’t start saving-saving until my late-20s. I didn’t start maxing out my 401k until my 30s.

It’s much easier to appreciate what you have when you’re able to look back at where you’ve been.

11. Enjoying your job is a form of wealth. I can’t quantify this, but I know it’s true — there are more wealthy people in America than those who love what they do for work.

I know plenty of rich people who constantly complain about their jobs. The hours. The responsibilities. The stress. Their boss.

It’s hard to put a price on an enjoyable work environment.

12. Most people aren’t bad with money, they just don’t make enough. It’s easy to judge others when it comes to their finances but the problem is usually income, not poor decisions.

A higher income is more important than financial literacy for most people.

13. Pick up the check when you’re with a group of friends just because. I remember being broke right out of college and being worried when the bill came when I went out for drinks or dinner with friends.

Now that I don’t have those same worries, it feels good to pick up a round of drinks or dinner without the need for them to reciprocate.

14. Everyone needs a get-out-of-jail-free card for spending. You have to prioritize your spending if you ever hope to save enough money. But you should also allow yourself certain guilt-free spending categories so you can enjoy your hard-earned money.

For me it’s books, streaming services, clothes and shoes.

Other people like nice restaurants or automobiles or expensive bags or travel or whatever.

As long as you’re saving money, you should give yourself a break when it comes to certain budget line items.

15. Paying up for a premium car wash is still a scam. I refuse to believe the car in front of me that pays up for a premium car wash is driving away any cleaner than my vehicle with the basic car wash.

It’s a waste of money.

I’ve heard the counterarguments and none of them are convincing.

16. People who act like they have it all figured out are usually full of shit. No one has it all figured out when it comes to money. Most of us are making it up as we go.

17. The most successful people I know never brag about money. Financial insecurity is not just about how much money you make or how much you have saved.

I don’t consider someone successful if they constantly brag about how much they make, how big their portfolio is, how much their house cost or how many toys they’ve purchased.

People who are that insecure aren’t truly wealthy.

Further Reading:
Some Other Forms of Wealth

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