December 16 – Money



Money can buy happiness to the extent of basically getting the bills paid for.  All of the research shows this to be true. As long as you can afford a basic standard of living…you can pay the mortgage or rent…you can pay to get the car fixed when it breaks down…you can comfortably keep the lights on…any extra money after that doesn’t seem to make people happier.  It seems that many people don’t identify with this though. Most of us want more.  

That is really good in a way.  People are thinking about their future.  They know that putting $100 a month…or even a week away for savings, just isn’t going to cut it come retirement age.  I calculated how much money I’d need at retirement (age 65) to carry me through age 90, if I consider the bills I’ll have, the standard of living, and inflation.  It’s about $1,000,000. That’s a million! I better visit my financial adviser soon, and adjust how much I’m contributing now!

By the way, I highly recommend putting some energy and thought into this.  Especially if you are self-employed…or don’t have a retirement plan through your job.  The earlier you start putting some away (even if it’s just a bit), the better. If you need a recommendation for someone to help you with this, send me a message.  You don’t want to be 55 years old, wondering why you haven’t started at least something. Start now.

I’ve never been truly driven by money that much.  I might have said differently, especially at different times in my life.  I remember thinking that I need  to have a lot more money at times.  But when I look at my actual behavior, it says that it doesn’t matter to me much.  If you’re wondering what some things are that you actually believe in…instead of sitting and thinking (which can be helpful too), try standing back and looking at your behavior.  As an individual, you tend to ‘do’ what you believe in.  We often think that we start with a belief and then we act it out.  But it’s almost always that we start with behavior…and we grow our philosophies and beliefs out of those actions.  Think about how that may be true in your life.

Anyway, I’ve never been driven to find a high paying job.  I’ve never attempted to buy a high priced vehicle. My house is small and affordable.  And even though it’s the holiday season, and sometimes I have hopes to afford better or more gifts for others…I always seem to make it happen according to what I believe in.  I always feel comfortable in the gifts or love that I’m able to share. I never feel unable to provide what I want to for the holidays. I suppose if I wasn’t able to do that, I’d have to adjust.  

I do often think about my retirement amount.  That does weigh on me at times. I’m not currently putting enough away to represent what I need in the future.  So, I am trying to figure that out. I don’t believe in just sweeping that idea under the rug. It’s on my conscience, so I should be abiding by it.  I’ll continue to work at that. But I do have other priorities or values to consider. Sometimes I value things other than work…and feel very content about that.

For the past two years or so, while my daughter was in pre-school Tuesdays, Thursday, and Fridays, I chose to only work on those days.  I chose to stay with my daughter on Mondays and Wednesdays.  It was a prioritization. I certainly could have chose work, and a little more money, and less time with my daughter.  She could have gone to pre-school Monday through Friday. I was more happy and content though to hang with her. I did have to work a weekend day here or there to keep up, but most of the time I made a 3 day work week happen.  

I also choose to not work in the winters.  That’s been the case for the last two years.  I have done snow plowing/removal in the past, but decided not to more recently.  Another prioritization I made is to give more time to my writing. It’s a passion of mine, and something that I want to develop.  Therefore, I don’t really work from about December 1 to April 1. Weather plays its part in determining those exact dates, considering my work is landscaping…but it’s close to that.  I do find small jobs here and there when interested, or feel the need for more income. But for the most part, I focus a lot on reading, writing, exercising, etc. I’m also able to be home for my daughter each day at 2:30 or so, now that she’s in kindergarten.  

I’m leaving a lot of money on the table.  4 months of work could lead me to more money…for sure.  I certainly could work another job in the winter…and might if I feel the need.  It’s really important for me to be able to have that as a choice.  I recognize that some might think it’s wrong to work a three day week.  Some would never consider that as an option. ‘I work, so my child must to go to pre-school every week day,’ is something I could have said.  Some would think it’s crazy to focus on a whim like ‘writing’ and choosing not to work for the entire winter.  I understand that. I have simply valued other things over money.  I believe that time with my daughter, following my passions, abiding by my conscience, and living on my own terms are more meaningful than money.  At times, those things may have to shift a bit. I’m aware that I’ll have to shape and prioritize differently over time, and that those things don’t come free.  I can’t take them for granted. It takes hard work to manage it all. But right now, I’m willing and able.


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