We all want to make more money. Why not, right? With a few more bucks, you could pay off your loan or credit card bill currently racking up interest. That rainy day or college fund could finally be set up, and that big dream purchase can potentially become a reality. With enough, you would even start investing. Yes, everything would be in order and life would be easy, all you need to make it happen is a little more cash. Unfortunately, this may not be the case and here’s why…
Do you know what most people do with a sudden windfall? They spend it. The newfound gains aren’t put towards the loans, bills, or other items that would help secure a better financial standing. Okay, maybe a small percentage is used for the better, but unfortunately, it’s not always enough. When it comes to unexpected money, it’s hard not to think of extravagant vacations or flashy cars, but if you’re really serious about setting yourself up for a future of financial freedom, every penny should go towards paying down current debts.
If we know what we should do, why don’t we do it? Well, it’s very easy to get caught up in the materialistic mindset. In our society, perceived wealth is often a status symbol, allowing those who have it to be envied, and seemingly claim their spot in high society. You may see someone driving a luxury car and think, “Oh, they must be so successful, rich, and have everything they want”. The reality is, sometimes the person driving the car can’t actually afford their lifestyle, but it’s important to them that you think they can.
Don’t be concerned with how others see you, because that is not a sustainable path to financial success. Look at some of the richest people in the world. You’ll find most in basic jeans and tees, drive an ordinary sedan, and live in a modest house. Seriously, google Warren Buffet’s house. Go ahead – I’ll give you a minute….did you find it? If not, here it is…
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice house, but it’s literally the house he bought in 1958 for 31k! If there is anyone out there that can afford the largest mansion, fanciest car, or anything really, it’s him. But do you know how the wealthy stay that way? By not wasting their money. You don’t even need to look at the ultra-wealthy. There are everyday millionaires all around, but they blend in because they’re not flaunting their lifestyle. Their level of wealth was achieved by taking a realistic approach and not letting the concept of perceived wealth get in the way.
More Money, Same Bad Habits
Money problems don’t typically stem from not having enough money but from bad money habits. Making more money today doesn’t suddenly make bad money habits disappear tomorrow, in fact, they’d likely get worse. Many of us fall victim to bad money habits such as life style creep or spending on unnecessary items because we can afford them without even realizing it. Without forming good money habits, we are destined to carry the same money problems with us, no matter how much money we make.
The Struggle is Real
Here’s the thing about making more money, it’s hard to do. For most of us, our jobs provide the bulk of our income. Companies are no different than you and I. Their goal is to make money too, so that raise you are hoping for may not come right away. If you are lucky enough to get a pay boost, it’s likely in the 2-3% range. While every little bit helps, this probably won’t make all of your immediate financial woes vanish.
There is always the option of picking up a second job or creating a side hustle to make extra money, however both have their challenges. There are only so many hours in our day\week to pick up extra shifts. For those with a family or other obligations, a second job may not be not a viable option. As for the side hustles, you can see my thoughts on them here.
We all just want a ton of money thrown our way and have our problems instantly disappear, however as explored in the points above, it most likely won’t happen that way and there are things money just can’t buy. Here’s the silver lining though. You CAN be happy with the money you make. You CAN learn to overcome the need to portray status. You CAN live within your means and then some. The road to financial success can be a long one, however, once your focus shifts from the stress-to-impress mindset to being content with a realistic budget, the journey becomes easier to navigate – and you’ll never look back.
Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.