A guest post by Eric, a blogger from the site Coffee and Warm Showers. Eric made a decision to ‘escape the rat race’ and lead a conscious life – quitting his job, moving to the Idaho countryside and having downsized and de-stressed, is now living a life he describes as ‘anything but ordinary”.
We’ve all been lied to.
Our entire lives we’ve heard “money is the root of all evil.” And it’s not true.
We’ve cautiously went along in life, striving to make more of it without losing our sanity. Without getting greedy and falling into the “evil” arena where only corrupt CEO’s, attorneys, and politicians play.
Unfortunately, I think we’ve all been focusing on the wrong root cause of this evil. We’ve all been blaming money itself like it has a mind of its own. When someone stabs a former co-worker in the back for the promotion they’ve both been battling it out for its likely because of the money. 9 times out of 10 there was no personal vendetta in this situation. Just looking out for #1.
“If I got that job I’d be able to finally afford that car I’ve been eyeing for years now.”
“I’d finally be able to buy my wife that house she’s been dreaming about.”
“I’d finally be able to pay off my credit card debt!”
The problem with this is that the money itself isn’t evil or even the root of all evil. I would be willing to say that money is the root of all indifference.
A quick personal story.
In the last nine months, I’ve been promoted twice. I’ve doubled my salary in one year. I’m making more than others at my age and my career growth at this company doesn’t look like its ending any time soon. I’m on the fast track to success and leading my department in the next year or two.
2 weeks ago – I quit my job. That’s right. Literally just told my boss I quit without having anything else lined up, no other income. And not only was I quitting, but I was moving to a small town in Idaho, population ~6,000 people, and not a job opportunity in sight.
Dumb move? Possibly. Depends on who you ask I guess. But I’ve been preparing for the last year for this. Although I’ve recently doubled my salary, I didn’t allow myself to spend a lot of extra money because I knew what I would be doing.
You’ll find that when you make money and then lose it somehow, you start to appreciate the small things more. You save money and live frugally. When you buy something, you really weigh out the pros and cons – do I really need this?
I’ve mentioned in a previous post that the less possessions you have, the more free you are. I whole-heartedly believe that’s true. If you have less things, you have less clutter – less to maintain, and if you have less to maintain you have more time to spend on the things that matter and the things that truly make you happy.
It’s not that money is the root of all evil. I believe people are the ones that are evil in those circumstances. Money always just ends up being a factor in the equation.
Where money stands in this equation though is on the other side. Having money (and this is more likely as your wealth increases) causes you to be indifferent. The smaller things are no longer thought about. Minor purchases (and sometimes large purchases) are not given a second thought because, well hey – you can afford it.
As you accumulate more and more you must maintain it all. Now you’ve set expectations with those around you that you will maintain this lifestyle and you start to battle it out for money for only one reason. You become oblivious to the things the money is buying or taking away.
In no way do I encourage anyone to up and quit their job, especially in this economy. I thought long and hard about this and ultimately found my window of opportunity and took it.
However, I do challenge you to look at what you are using your money for. How are you making your decisions?
Do you catch yourself saying things like, “I wish we could go, but I just don’t have the money right now.” Why don’t you have the money? Maybe you would have it if you laid off of the Sbux for a couple of weeks?
Even worse, do you catch yourself buying things just because you can?
Trial period: Start this week. Cut your income in half. Take whatever you get on your next paycheck and put half in savings and use the other half to pay bills and buy things you need or add value to your life.
After a couple of weeks, re-evaluate. Was it possible? If so, how did it feel? How does it feel to know you can live similarly (maybe even better!) on half the income. Oh and don’t forget that you also have a bigger savings account now!
Find ways here and there every day to cut costs. It’s one of the most empowering feelings when you realize that you don’t need as much money as you thought. Once you do this for a while, truly living becomes easier.
You become a happier person. Don’t let money or the fight for it drive your decisions. Make decisions based off of what makes you happy and adds value to your life. When you do that every decision you make becomes important and worth caring about.
Photo by Images_of_Money via Flickr