Rule #39. Get rich.
The solution to all our problems is to get rich. That may seem like a radical departure from my usual messaging, but I’m not talking about financial wealth. No, I’m talking about leading a rich life, which is much more important than simple monetary riches. Money plays a role in a rich life, but not the one that most people think it does.
In a rich life money isn’t the goal; it’s a tool for achieving goals.
Personal finance guru Suze Orman has noted that, “Although money alone won’t make us happy, the lack of money surely will make us miserable.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that, however research has shown that there are ways we can use our money that will lead to more happiness.
We can pay off debt, we can spend money improving where we spend our time, and we can invest our money in experiences instead of things. It’s pretty simple but effective stuff. Want examples?
Paying off debt: The joy of paying off your student loan, closing out a credit card balance, or finally owning your car outright. Debt is no fun, and getting rid of it takes a weight off your shoulders.
Improving where we spend our time: I’ve recently started biking to work a few times a week. The more time I spend on the bike, the more willing I am to spend a but more money to improve the ride. I’ll probably get some better tires, maybe a more comfortable seat. These things aren’t necessary, but they’ll take an already pleasant activity and make it even more enjoyable. Don’t ride to work? Think about the difference between cheap uncomfortable shoes and more costly shoes that are super comfortable; spending more on the comfy pair is going to improve your day if you spend a lot of time on your feet.
Spending money on experiences: Taking your dream vacation. Taking a road trip via motorcycle. Exploring National Parks and Forests. Learning to Scuba Dive. Taking sailing lessons… The list could go on indefinitely, because there are limitless things to try! Spending your money on exciting new experiences is one of the best ways to invest your money! There may not be a lot of financial returns, but you’ll get the most amount of happiness for your dollar!
Remember, money itself will never make us happy; it’s a tool, and what we do with it will determine how it affects us. If we’re going to be rich (as in lead a rich life) we’ll need to use our money appropriately. In other words; have those experiences! We as a society seem to have put great emphasis in being busy, never taking a vacation, and being on-call 24/7. This leaves a void in our lives that we try to fill with stuff. Except that most stuff just can’t make us happy like experiences can.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with frugality, which is itself a very useful tool. Likewise, I’m not dismissing preparing for the future, saving for retirement, having a few niceties, or seeking out stable employment, if that’s what you want. If you want a 9 to 5 life, with a main goal of maxing our your 401K, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, there’s no one right way to live. However, I personally believe that there’s more to life than the jobs we do and the money we earn; so many people, in an effort to make more, save more, and buy more, abandon hard-earned vacation time, work over the weekend, and are always on duty. Don’t do that.
Remember, life isn’t a yes or no question. You can work your job and save for retirement while still leading a rich adventurous life! Use all of your vacation time and explore someplace you’ve always wanted to go. Take a microadventure on your weekend. Don’t compulsively check your work e-mail when you’re having dinner. And most importantly, don’t put off living a worthwhile life. You may not make as many dollars this way, you might spend a little more cash, and you likely won’t have as much socked away for the future.
You will, however, enjoy life. And in the end, isn’t that what it really means to be rich?
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is a weekly post giving guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an intrepid life.