Posted On 13 Sep 2009
Money, financial wealth, won’t make you happy. Nevertheless, it’s better to be financially comfortable than to be destitute. Being financially secure feels a lot better than being financially insecure.
Past a certain point, though, accumulating more and more money won’t enable you to live better and better. This is my layman’s understand of studies done by social scientists. Not having enough money to enjoy what we in North America think of as being in the middle class is a source of unhappiness and financial distress. Above that, though, it makes little difference.
Being able to enjoy financial security while being in the middle class is good. Let’s think a bit beyond that.
Financial well-being (success, flourishing) is easy to measure: the bigger one’s pile of money, the greater one’s financial well-being. When it comes to money, the highest goal is financial independence.
How big should your pile of money be for you to enjoy financial independence? It depends upon how you want to live. Someone could be financially independent at $20,000 USD yearly, and someone else could lack financial independence at $5,000,000 USD yearly. Though the annual income is relative to each individual, a master of the art of making money is a person who has put himself (or, of course, herself) in a position of financial independence.
If you are not yet financially independent and would like to be financially independent, how should you do it?
I don’t know. Nobody else does, either. Since (as I’ve argued elsewhere in these posts) there’s no knowledge of right and wrong, there’s no knowledge (demonstrative evidence, certainty) of what you should do to enjoy financial independence. Therefore, if you are to succeed, your task is to figure out something that will work for you without knowing what you are doing.
Being financially independent is having enough money to do whatever you want. In general, the more in control of your life you feel, the happier you’ll feel. The only alternative to being able to do whatever you want is not being able to do whatever you want.
Freedom beats slavery. At least for me, it is better to have sufficient income so that you never need to think about money than it is to have insufficient income so that you frequently need to think about money. Money has no intrinsic value. Isn’t it better to think about and try to make concrete such (abstract) goods as friendship, beauty, physical wellness, spiritual enlightenment, and conceptual understanding than to be forced to spend one’s time in ceaseless pursuit of money?
Valuing financial independence is not the same as believing that it is possible for you to become financially independent. There are various ways to become financially independent, but most are uninteresting. For example, you could marry a wealthy person, inherit a huge pile of money, or successfully steal a lot of money. The only interesting way is to earn it.
One of the glories of our society is that it is possible for any hard-working person of tolerable abilities to become financially independent. If you don’t believe that it’s possible for you to achieve it, your own thinking will obstruct you before you get started. It’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I do not think that it is necessary to be financially independent, or even financially secure, to live well. On the other hand, having a certain degree of financial security or even independence can make it easier to live well.
In other posts, I’ll offer you what I think are some encouraging, helpful ideas about improving your financial condition.