Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Money Isn't Everything

My last post on my computer blog was a quote about how the big threat is not losing your job, it's doing work you aren't passionate about. Jen commented:
Unless you are poor, and then it is losing your job! The only people who say money doesn't matter are the people who have it.
I don't think it's anywhere near that simple, and it bugs me every time I hear that kind of thing, especially from people that aren't "poor", except perhaps in their own minds.

I "have money" now, but for a good chunk of my life I chose to do work I was passionate about and be much poorer than if I'd just gone and got a regular job. In fact, I quit a regular job to do what I wanted, in full knowledge that I'd be much poorer. Coincidentally, that ended up with me being reasonably well off. But money was never my goal, and if it hadn't worked out the way it did I'd still be happily doing what I enjoyed, just poorer.

And my sister Penny is happily doing what she enjoys, rather than taking a regular job which would pay much better.

So no, it's not just people with money who say there are more important things than money.

By the standards of the majority of the world, none of "us" are poor. We think "poor" means having trouble making the payments on an oversized house, multiple cars, trucks, SUV's, ATV's, jet skis, snowmobiles, multiple big screen TV's, computers, video games, and on and on. That's not "poor" by any stretch of the imagination. Poor is not having enough to eat.

Money doesn't make you happy. Twice as much money won't make you twice as happy. Buying more "stuff" won't make you happier, no matter how much the people selling that stuff would like you to believe that. "Rich" people aren't happier than "poor" people, usually the opposite.

The people who are "poor" are the ones who spend more than they make, buying stuff they don't need. Having more money than you need is as much a matter of how much you spend as it is a matter of how much you make. It doesn't take an accounting degree to figure that out.

Are Shelley and I less happy because we live in a small house and share a single vehicle? I don't think so.

We all want to be happy. And we all want to find shortcuts. More money seems like a shortcut to being happy. Finding what you enjoy and are passionate about, and then sacrificing to do it, that's hard.


  1. Yup, you're right.

  2. So what if you have no more passion? Does that mean no more joy? And if so, what would even be the point then?

  3. Is the cup half empty or half full? I do work I enjoy, but that doesn't mean I love every minute of it.

    Find ways to do more of what you enjoy. Find ways to enjoy more of what you do.

    We (probably) only get one life, it's worth working at enjoying it. (I think)

  4. There's supposed to be a cup! Ah crud.

  5. I'm the guy Andrew is talking about. I enjoy my job enough, but I'm certainly not doing the things that I'm really passionate about. And I don't live my passion because I choose to take the money. I'm lucky in that it's a choice for me: If I chose to follow my passion, I would do so in the knowledge that I have the skills to get a paying gig if my passion doesn't work out.

    If I were genuinely poor and struggling, I couldn't follow my passion. I believe that the vast majority of people who are living in poverty don't choose to do so. They're living in poverty because of reasons mostly out of their control. I don't mean they're predestined to poverty. I just mean that their class, race, gender and a variety of other factors conspire to give them fewer chances in life to grab the golden ring, and that means that statistically, they're more likely to end up with few options other than starving.