We all know money doesn’t make us happy. Well… at least we know that logically and because people with money tell us so. For those of us who have had to worry about and scrounge for money throughout our lives, money certainly seems like the answer to everything.
The fact is, money is a tool. Those who have it can achieve more than those of us who don’t. It can allow us to have the things we want, to shoot for our most whimsical dreams, with a sense of security that only money can give.
As a kid, I was painfully aware of our money situation. We struggled on a week-to-week basis and often fell short. We relied on family multiple times to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. These days I can recognise how lucky we were to have people to fall back on – a lot of people don’t.
But nothing will instil the drive to make money in a kid like growing up poor. I used to dream of making millions and honestly, not knowing what house (if any at all) my family would be living in the next day, I was pretty damn sure money would make us happy.
Now that I’m older and independent, millions doesn’t seem realistic nor necessary. Upon truly evaluating what I need money for, the amount I needed to achieve my dreams got smaller and smaller. With that, my confidence in achieving those figures grew.
For me, the things I need money for look like this:
Security (Present and Future)
To me, this the greatest use of money. I’m planning for tomorrow and planning for 40 years from now. Living week to week as a child has stressed the importance of savings to me.
Whilst my income right now is limited, I make sure to square away as much I can. I currently have over a months worth of pay squirrelled away – and I’m ridiculously proud of that. Ideally, I’d like to have 3–6 months pay to fall back on, so that’s what I’m working towards.
My other focus is on investing. Every book you’ll ever read on the subject stresses the importance of compound interest. So I’m starting early (or late really, one can never be too early) and prioritising my future. I know that down the track when I’m reaping the rewards of this decision, I’ll be grateful.
For now, my 1-month leeway is giving me a sense of peace I’ve never experienced before. I’m not concerned about things popping up because I know there’s money there. Increasing this sense of security doesn’t take a large amount of money every week. Until I improve my income (working on this) I’m doing everything I can with the spare money I’ve got.
As a kid and now as a fresh adult, renting has always been the unfortunate reality for my family and I. Renting to me means lots of moving and throwing money at a house you ultimately won’t be able to keep. So owning home and being able to stay in one place for as long as I want? That’s the dream.
I have no desire for a sprawling multi-million dollar home or a glorious penthouse. I just want an average home, that I can turn into my dream home. Based on what I want, in my country, at this time, the cost of such a place would be between $350,000 to $450,000. I’d need a 20% deposit, though I’d prefer to go in with more to minimise my mortgage.
Realistically, these numbers are going to inflate over the years while I save and there are other costs to account for when buying a home. But these numbers give me hope, a tangible goal! I’m 21 years old, time is on my side. This dream is achievable and I don’t need millions to get there.
The biggest thing money could ever give me is the death of my 8-hour workdays. My current day job income is average and necessary, for the moment, but I’m exploring multiple other options of making money that are entirely in my control.
I’ve made money here and there, through different ventures, but the goal is to be able to quit my day job and be entirely in charge of how much I’m making and how I’m making it.
I need money to do this. To expand and explore the things I’m doing and to free up time so that I can fully dedicate myself to them. For me, this looks like earning the minimum I need to survive, which for my situation right now would be ~$400 a week.
If and when I’m earning that amount consistently, I’ll feel comfortable leaving my job and this will be a massive turning point for me and my goals.
That’s it for me right now, at this point in my life. The things I need money for, as well as my goals for getting there. Looking at it this way, I learnt that I don’t need as much money as I once thought to live the life I’m shooting for.
Your goals may vary from mine. Maybe you have a dream car or want to build a nest egg for your kids. Whatever you’re reaching for, it’s probably not as far away as you think and breaking it down into numbers, and what you need to do to reach those numbers, can highlight that fact. Figure it out, write it all down, and walk the path to get there. Money might not make us happy but it’s a tool that can be used to craft a life that will.
This article was first published on Medium
Author: Emma Scoble