More money is a common desire. Money is the middleman between us and the quality of life we’re seeking.
It’s the tool we use to buy or leverage the things that are most important or essential to our lives. When we think about why we want more money, it’s not usually so we can sit around counting actual notes or decimal points on a screen all day.
We want more money because we want more of something else that will enhance the quality of our lives or the lives of others:
- More time
- More choice
- More contribution
- More freedom
Dramatically increasing your income to have more of these things isn’t necessarily the only answer, although they can absolutely help. It’s also about changing your attitude about the money you do have and carefully prioritising how you spend it depending on which of the above are most important to you.
This can allow you to leverage each of these areas without waiting around to win Powerball.
Meet Amanda and Erin.
A growing number of people are like Amanda. The idea of making $100,000+ income while working crazy hours doesn’t seem to be a great trade-off.
The decision to favour time over money can affect our wellbeing too. According to 6 studies of more than 4,600 participants, researchers at the Society of Personality and Social Psychology found that the choice to prioritise time over making more money was associated with greater happiness.
There is a flip side though.
Erin can use the money she makes to leverage the time she does have off by paying for time-saving expenses. House cleaning and maintenance services, eating out instead of cooking and paying higher city rent to be close to work and save commute time.
If you’re struggling financially, choice of what you can buy, give or experience is often small.
Financial freedom can lift those limitations and give you more choice in many areas; from the type of investments you can make, to education, to the kind of restaurants you eat at on a night out.
Often people choose to make frugal choices in some areas to leverage their power of choice in others. Instead of eating out every week, they save the money to have more choice on where they can afford to take their next holiday.
Choosing to be frugal regardless of how much money you earn opens the door for you to pursue the things you’ve decided are most important in your life.
Financial security also gives you more choice when life happens and things like urgent car repairs or unforeseen medical expenses crop up. These types of emergencies can break an already stretched money planner.
With limited funds, you’re left with few options on how to cover an emergency – charge it to a credit card or borrow money. It also puts a cap on the quality of the solution available to you. If you can only afford a temporary band-aid fix for the problem, you’ll be back in the same situation soon.
“The heart that gives, gathers” Tao Te Ching
Struggling with money doesn’t serve you and it can hold you back from serving others to your fullest capacity too.
When you’re in the position to comfortably meet all your needs, savings goals, investments and then some, it makes room for generosity and responsiveness towards others who need your help.
Of course, helping with money isn’t the only way to contribute. Getting back to my earlier point, if your financial goals have freed up your time, you have more of it to dedicate to causes that are meaningful to you.
From soup kitchens to after-school programs, there are plenty of opportunities to offer help.
Whether you give financially or of your time, contribution and connection help you feel your life has purpose, coherence, and worth.
“How we spend our days is in fact how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard
I’m not necessarily talking about freedom to wander around without aim every day, watching Netflix and sleeping in until lunchtime. I’m talking about freedom with a purpose, a mission, a vision to pursue.
Whether it’s starting your own business, taking a six month trip around the world or scaling back work to a few days a week, financial security allows you to pursue freedom. Or at least your sense of it…maybe it is sleeping in until lunchtime every day!
The thing is, freedom comes with a certain level of financial and personal risk; when you choose freedom, you make choices for yourself and the outcome — good or bad — rests with you.
When you’re already living pay check to pay check, even a small financial risk can feel completely out of the question.
It doesn’t mean you need to get lucky with a huge windfall. Plenty of people have slowly gained freedom in their lives by carefully minimising expenses and spending less than they earn. Over time, they’ve built their wealth to a point that money, or lack of it, isn’t driving every decision.
I think it’s interesting that all of the above can intersect at some point money.
- More time = more freedom
- More time = more opportunity to contribute
- More freedom = more choice
So it isn’t really money that you are seeking. It is the things that money can provide you that you really want.
Now that might sound like I am splitting hairs, but when you switch your focus from money, and direct it to the real things you want, that is when the magic happens.
Your purpose will be aligned with your actions, and the world has a way of giving more to those who know what they really want.
What are you seeking more of? Let me know in the comments below.