John D. Rockefeller was an American industrialist, oil-man, and — at one point in the early 1900's — the world's richest man & first ever American billionaire. When he was asked by a reporter,
“How much money is enough?”
He famously replied,
“Just a little bit more.”
I’ve heard varying accounts about when people feel like they have enough money to be satisfied, or happy. One recounted: from Donald Trump to a Manila garbage dump-picker, people would be satisfied with "about 10% more than I'm making now." I’ve read elsewhere that it’s double: if we made twice as much, then we would feel settled & satisfied.
Regardless of the study (or anecdotal “study”), what’s common is that the satisfaction is not tied to a specific number, it is completely subjective by person. The other thing that’s clear is: we all (pretty much) want more.
I had the incredible good fortune of marrying (as a fresh 21-year old!!) an old guy (not that old — still in his twenties) who had done hard time living in cheap, grungy basement suites, saving money for a down payment on a house. He bought our home with a solid financial start, before a housing boom, with very reasonable monthly payments that have afforded us a lot of options in our life choices. (One of them: starting dignify!)
In other words: a lot of luck or good fortune or blessing or whatever-you-would-call-it has accompanied our intentional shopping choices.
So, I’m humbled and grateful that this is even an option, but we have been focused on fully eliminating the mortgage on our home for the last several years. But, as we zero in on zero, I’ve realized how much my emotions felt tied to the supposed “freedom” that would come with no mortgage. I’ve been pinning a lot of hope on this point in time — no mortgage time — but will no debt really make me feel satisfied?
Won’t I then just want to renovate the neglected parts of our house? Won’t I want to add more trips & family experiences? Won’t I begin to pine for a newer car, or an updated computer, or more art on the wall?
Yes …is the unfortunate truth I realized. It will never feel like enough. Unless I decide that it is enough.
I’m trying to reframe my financial freedom in light of the opportunities & peace that I already have.
The freedom to buy a concert ticket easily when a musician I love comes to town. Being able to buy a dishwasher right away when ours quit (thank God!!!). Buying a coffee or ice cream treat on a low day, or just for fun. I have a powerful computer, camera, phone. Giving unplanned money away when a cause arises I want to support. I can invest in items of higher quality instead of just getting by with the cheapest version. I have the freedom to experiment with recipes and be creative with food ingredients. There have been times in my life where these things were not so true; and certainly these scenarios would not be true for many, many people.
The honest truth is that I want more money. I just do. Greed, striving, longing, call it what you will… I know I am not alone.
But, I am trying to catch glimpses of financial satisfaction, as well.
Do you have any success stories of how you've made that happen in your own life? I'd love to hear them. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.