For many of us, our lives are a constant search to find more ways to make money. Diversifying our portfolios, maximizing our returns on investments, and slaving away to lock down that next opportunity to earn a promotion and that corner office. All together or even individually, these searches and motivations are not bad things in any way, where they go wrong is when they become an obsession and take over as the only desire in your life.
Don’t get me wrong, the thought of being rich is an awesome dream: financial security for you and the kids when it comes to a posh retirement and college tuition, luxury cars, multiple vacations and a house in the hills… what’s not to like?
The problem that can occur is a kind of “success shaming”: if you aren’t in a position to be able to have a salary that gives way to luxury cars, a passport stamped with countless international markings, and a stack of cash and coins that you can swan dive into a lá Scrooge McDuck –then you are a failure. Truth is, that is flat out untrue, and the problem at the root of such an assumption is the definition of what success really is.
Below is a breakdown of 6 reasons why you should consider lowering the bar on what you think success really looks like, and how you can begin to enjoy your life to the fullest within your own specific financial situation.
Is wealth itself all you want?
At a very young age, we are shown what success looks like and are told what success should be in our lives when we grow up. Having a 100k annual salary complete with benefits and stock options would be pretty great, don’t get me wrong, but realistically once you get your hands on that kinda paycheck, what are you going to do with that kind of money at your disposal?
There are options upon options for ways you could spend the money: buy a second and even a third home, purchase multiple cars for you and your spouse, and even multiple vacations every year –but on a practical basis, do you really need that kind of buying power in your life to be happy?
How much do you really need?
According to GOBankingRates.com, the average dollar amount needed to live comfortably and worry free is less than 50k a year. Hitting close to that half way to a hundred mark classifies you as “Upper Middle Class” in terms of the census, which means that you have more than enough to live off of and still be very comfortable.
The 50k salary is an overly generous sum considering that it covers necessities as well as a big allowance for wants as well as extra cash to fill the savings accounts at the end. Just from what you can tell on the surface, 50k is a lot easier to achieve a year than it is 100k, and the point that you need to know is this: you don’t need a 100k salary to be happy. Hell, you don’t even need a 50k to be happy, depending on your family size of course.
Know the difference between Wants and Needs.
Let’s not fool ourselves, having money is great. Ever since you were a small child and got your hands on a quarter you found between the seats of your parent’s sofa you realized how awesome it was to have that kind of buying power at your will. Although our tastes and preferences have changed since that giant blue gumball we bought with that quarter, we know that having money and lots of it can certainly be an empowerment. However, what really does money in huge quantities offer us?
Besides the obvious answer like stability and security, money doesn’t offer us much more than opportunity: opportunity to travel, opportunity to try new things, and the opportunity to have shinier things than the person next to you. It can be really tempting to devote your life to pursuing these opportunities, but in reality, what are you really striving for? Usually the answer to why you want to make the most money and live your life like a rock star celebrity is because you want what we all secretly want: bragging rights.
You only need so much to live comfortably.
When you think about it, you only use so much money every year to live and the rest goes unused and into your savings account for “later”. Having a padded savings account is by no means a bad thing, but all that disposable cash is not necessary for your life style, and when that happens, the bad habit that people lean into is trying to find an unnecessary way to spend that disposable cash: Buying shiner cars, moving in to a bigger house with bigger payments, and buying products and luxury items that are not essential nor necessary.
These buying habits can be toxic to your long term situation if not thought through thoroughly (wow that was a lot of “th” words.). Don’t believe us? Take a look at professional sports players and actors who have histories of earning multi-million and even billion dollar paychecks. A lot of them burn right through their earnings because they sought to live inflated life styles that were astronomically unstable for the long term. Take a note from pro-ballers and celebrities: if you ever find yourself in a position to be handed a check for a few million dollars, don’t blow it. Plan it out and ration it. If used correctly, you wouldn’t even have to work for the rest of your life if you live within your average means with it.
Analyze what your own necessities are.
We need paychecks to fund our lives, obviously. No longer living underneath the financial wings of your parents, having a paycheck big enough to cover your bills with enough left over to divide into savings and still have some fun every now and then is all you need. Depending on the size of your family, the city you live in, or even if you are just single and supporting your own party of 1, you don’t need a giant paycheck. Just enough for the essentials and then some fun money.
Contrary to what some people will try to teach you or what advertisements say, you don’t need to be rich to be happy or to have a good time. There are countless avenues that will tell you that you need to live this kind of lifestyle to be happy, or have this much money to feel secure, or these products to feel fulfilled. Honestly, that’s all garbage.
While you do still need to be able to cover bills in their entirety, you don’t need to be making all that much more annual cash than that to be happy and still live comfortably.
So how much is enough?
Mint.com suggests the 50-30-20 Rule for those trying to figure out what a budget should look like: 50 percent of your income should go to paying essential and necessary bills, 30 percent can go to non-essential and personal choices (like entertainment and other debatable wants) and the remaining 20 percent should go straight to your long term savings and investments. If you follow a skeleton budget such as this, you will be rich enough to comfortably live the life you want and be happy, without the 100k salary.
Being rich is certainly nothing to shake your tail at. It can provide you with easier access to opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to get to, but being rich isn’t everything or even or everybody. If you are in the position to be earning a 100k salary or anything as high as that, then congratulations, we’re sure you worked and sacrificed quite a bit to get there, and you rightfully should enjoy your spoils. For those who earn less than half of that however, you should not by any means feel like you are missing out, because you aren’t.
You make the most out of any situation, rich and poor and everything in between. If you want to make the mondo bucks then know that you certainly can with enough planning and help, but know that your income –as long as it is enough to pay the bills with ease, provide you with a flow that feeds your future savings and still allows you and your dependents to have some fun in the process—can always be enough to keep you and yours happy. You set the tone and define what makes you happy, not the dollars in your bank account.
Don’t let others tell you that you aren’t successful because you don’t make as much as they do. Set your own standards and keep doing you.