Now, you know I’m a fan of saving money. No need to spend money when you don’t have to. Get the most value you can. Calculate the real cost of your job. No questions there. But I want to take a moment with this post to remind you, my little Beanie Babies (Wait, what was that? Never mind. Just let me go with it), of why you should be doing all this dollar maximizing in the first place.
It’s to buy happiness.
Yes, as Mr. Money Mustache argues in this excellent post, you can buy happiness. Just not the way you think you can.
Not with fancy cars.
Not with the latest and greatest smartphone.
Not even with the most elite of elite college degrees.
And how do you buy security? By not spending money. As easy as that. Of course, it’s not easy, and that’s why this blog exists. I’m as guilty as anyone reading this of wasting money (oh, 90s collectible Beanie Babies! Foul creatures!), but I’ve reformed most of my ridiculous ways. So let me explain this security concept further. I can almost hear the counterarguments: “But I need a fancy new car with all the latest gadgets to really be safe on the road!” “I’m not going to live in a hovel!” “Yeah, this computer’s expensive, but now I won’t have to buy another one for two years! That’s financial security, right?”
No. No, it’s not. Financial security is not living paycheck to paycheck. Financial security is not having to obsessively time your bill payments for fear of overdrafting your bank account. Financial security is being able to spend real money when it’s actually important—medical care, for example. Or enriching important relationships. Maybe surprising your sweetie with a $200 meal you’ll remember for years is worth the scrimping on groceries that allowed you to spend that money in the first place. Spend more on a meal than an entire month’s worth of groceries? Yes, if that’s what’s really important to you and you have the financial security to do it. Happiness comes from financial security (among other things, of course).
And you get that security by not spending money. That $6 latte is $6 less of happiness. Think of it that way, and it’ll be easier to spend less.
So there’s the money-wasting threat to your happiness. But there’s another, equally insidious aspect to consider. All the extra work you do to pay off that debt or save for retirement: that side hustle, the extra hours at the job, taking classes to increase your salary. What are you missing in the mean time? I’m talking about things you can’t assign monetary value to (and that’s where, as the Simple Dollar points out, calculating your hourly wage doesn’t make sense). Not to get all cheeseball on you, but there are some non-income-producing things that even this adventurer wouldn’t miss. Revenge on a certain gang of pirates comes to mind.
For another thing, if you find yourself reaching for straw-man arguments (“Hovels, I say! Hovels!”), ask yourself why. Is there really no choice between the fanciest of accommodations and a hovel? Couldn’t you live in a one bedroom instead of a two bedroom? If you’re throwing up these objections, you’re probably not ready.
Not ready for financial security.
Not ready for the happiness that money can buy.
So by all means, calculate your hourly wage and increase your earnings. Just don’t forget what you’re doing it for.
What are some of the things you can’t assign monetary value to? What won’t you give up on your quest to maximize your money? Let us know in the comments.