“I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.” –Steve Martin
With all there is out there on money, what makes this page different? What information is contained here that isn’t already out there somewhere? Great question!
Most of what’s out there on money is akin to only being given a puzzle piece of the entire picture of money. We’ve seen a glimpse and are now trying to fit this piece into our ever-evolving life, without understanding the full picture.
For this section on money, we’ve painted an elaborate birds-eye view of one’s orientation to money. We aim to provide you with many more of the puzzle pieces, and aid you in putting them together intentionally.
We’ll explore not just how to make and keep money, but how to use money for joy, peace, meaning, and freedom.
We’ll also shine a light on some simple and enticing beliefs about money: that enough money will make us fulfilled, that going into debt for college is a great solution, that 13 years of school will prepare us for the real world, and that having “more” is usually the answer.
This section brings together a swath of ideas on money from various cultures and mediums. We’ve collected the freshest research and theories from numerous documentaries, books, articles, studies, and videos.
The teal graphic above shows all the pages for this section. It will also be at the bottom of every page. You can click on it to jump around from page to page, or read to the bottom of each page and follow the “Next Up” button to the next one in the order.
Here’s a taste of some things to get us started:
Who has the healthiest relationship with money, and why?
The answer: those who have created lives where money is an Expression of their values. The more people tap into Four Cornerstones of Meaning (Service, Love, Discovery, and Expression) in order to both make and spend our money, the more fulfilled they are.
What one factor might be a large predictor of financial success?
Neither upbringing, personality type, nor intelligence were the biggest predictors of financial success. In a 75-year longitudinal study by Harvard, called The Harvard Grant Study they found that there was no significant difference in income earned between individuals with IQs of 110-115, and individuals with IQ’s of 150-plus. However, men who had warm or caring mothers took home $87,000 more than those whose mothers were uncaring. Also those who had close sibling relationships, when young, averaged $51,000 more per year than those who did not. Love early in life predicted not only love later in life, but also predicted success, such as higher income. “The 58 men with the best scores for warm relationships made an average of $243,000 a year; in contrast, the 31 men with the worst scores for relationships earned an average maximum salary of $102,000 a year.” In short, Love impacts money. This study suggests that it is nature, and specifically love, rather than nurture that impacts our earning potential.
What is the biggest predictor of happiness or joy?
Research suggests that, rather than money, feeling a part of a community is the single biggest predictor of happiness.
“If you have it, Love, you don’t need to have anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.” – James M. Barrie
Can money buy happiness?
We’ll break this question down into two parts:
- Does having more money make us happier? Yes, in many but not all circumstances, money makes us happier. Why? More money allows us to live longer and healthier lives, protects against financial stress and worry, allows us to have more opportunity, affords a higher quality of life, and provides a sense of novelty that meets our need for spontaneity. After a certain point though, the amount of happiness we receive from money has been thought to plateau. Studies have suggested that at $75,000 (annually) day-to-day happiness levels off. While others have claimed $105,000 is the point where life evaluation (the thoughts that people feel about their life when they think about it) caps out. And another study points to no upper limit as far as the happiness and money relationship. They tracked up to a salary of $500,000, and found no break where happiness stops being impacted by income. This data suggests the more we earn, the better we feel about our lives! To only talk about the attainment of money though, would be incomplete. Far more important than the amount of money we earn is how we spend it. The huge caveat here is that money, whether it can make us happy or not, isn’t everything. Meaning is the best solution for a life well-lived.
2. Can we use money to buy happiness? Absolutely! But even though money can buy some happiness, it won’t be the be-all-end-all solution for living a ‘happy life.’ For what money can do for us, it’s how we spend it that is the most important piece of the puzzle. The trap is that we often spend money on things that don’t impact long term happiness. Common examples of these purchases are things like material possessions or things that buy us status, like a house. The Good Life Project provides 5 ways of buying happiness:
- Buy experiences rather than stuff. The happiness we get from stuff deteriorates incredibly quickly. The deeper the sense of engagement and flow we get from an activity, the more happiness (Type 2 Happiness) we feel.
- Spend money on others. We are happier when we spend money on others than when we spend on ourselves, even if we don’t know the other person.
- Spend on many little purchases rather than one large one. Small purchases over time give us continual boosts of happiness rather than one large purchase which gives us a large hit of happiness dissipates quickly.
- Purchase things in advance that provide us a sense of anticipation. The anticipation of doing or getting something provides us more happiness than actually getting the thing that we purchased.
- Pay for services that buy back our time. Our society has become one in which we’ve become busier and busier. Having those few extra moments to spend with loved ones or doing the things we are passionate about provides large doses of happiness.
Why is any of this worth talking about? We have a healthy enough relationship with money, right?
Burnout’s financial toll on the workplace is currently $550 billion. The annual cost in lost productivity of employees “checking out” of their jobs is $300 billion per year, and 95% of HR leaders say burnout is hurting retention.
When we see what we’re doing to ourselves for money, it begs the question: how can we improve this relationship.
What Else Will We Cover?
This section will mature and strengthen your relationship with money, empowering your views on money as tools for achieving greater freedom.
A few other interesting topics we’ll explore:
- We have a relationship with our thoughts, feelings, and our story of money.
- We’ll learn various ways of using money to buy happiness.
- We’ll explore how money and spirituality impact one another.
- We’ll learn about how every decision we make is an investment in something, and how to examine what we’re investing in.
- We’ll explore what we’re actually trading for money.
- We’ll look at studies showing how money changes people.
- We’re ultimately at the mercy of our pursuit of money until we find something more meaningful worth pursuing.
And many more topics!
We’ll also explore why much of what we’ve been taught about wealth is wrong or incomplete. To quote James Clear:
“Real wealth is not about money. Real wealth is:
-not having to go to meetings
-not having to spend time with jerks
-not being locked into status games
-not feeling like you have to say “yes”
-not worrying about others claiming your time and energy.
Real wealth is about freedom. Money can help achieve these things, but there are plenty of people who make lots of money yet aren’t free”
“What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.” —Julia Cameron
This chapter of the website is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Rather, it is your guide to a relationship with money that promotes freedom.
A Few Other Core Themes
- For many people, we are not searching for money, but rather the thing that we feel money will buy us (freedom, joy, time with loved ones, confidence, a sense of agency, etc.)
- For many, money is either a tool that we use to get us the things that we want or a carrot on a stick that we spend most of our lives chasing after.
- Chasing after money, in and of itself, is a fool’s errand without a finish line. Without a point of reaching “enough,” enough remains this mythical treasure in the distance that we never get any closer to.
- Having money is not the end goal. Even those swimming in their Darkwing Duck vault full of money, still will not reach fulfillment without a healthy relationship with money.
- Our relationship with money is largely the result of our stories and beliefs around what having money will bring us. Money isn’t the main thing that we want. Our beliefs around what the attainment of money will give us are what we are truly after. These stories are the reason people are willing to exchange their lives for jobs like hitmen or drug dealers.
- Money can be used to meet some of our most basic human needs. We find pain and suffering though when we try to use money to meet needs such as esteem, belonging, and connection
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never be hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” – Satchel Paige
7 Questions to Consider:
This piece was written for all of us who have ever wondered:
- What would my life be like if I never had to worry about money again?” Alan Watts – What if Money Was No Object –
- A life without money: what would it look like? Does money become our sole motivator? “If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.” ― Alan Watts
- How can I be happy with my current amount of money? It feels like there is never enough.
- What would it feel like for my relationship with money to feel more like a loving one than trying to catch a piece of paper being blown around by the wind?
- Are rich people really happier?
- Is there a better way to spend money, a way of spending money that brings happiness, meaning, fulfillment and purpose?
- Does having money make anyone more of a “good” or “bad” person?
- Is there a way of finding out which job or types of jobs would lead to my being happier?
Basic Disclaimer 1:
How to be happy even when lacking food, water, and shelter is not the focus of this piece. There is a basic level of financial security necessary in order to even focus on having a job or spending our money in ways that bring us meaning.
Pink Floyd- Money
7 Thought Experiments:
- What if Money Was No Object?
- What if trading goods or services was how everything in this world was done? What would you bring to the table or have to offer? What would be meaningful to you to receive? What do you think would have the highest universal trade value?
- What if debt was made illegal? What if no one in our world was allowed to be in debt: rather than going into debt, everyone had to have the money up front or else they could not buy the item.
- What if every country adhered to the concept of a weekend, and each employee was given two days off in a row each week, yet the weekends were spaced out so that society could still run (all normal things were open) each day?
- What if aliens came to Earth and found our concept of money foolish and wouldn’t tell us their secrets unless we (as a world) collectively agreed to get rid of money?
- What if everyone was given money for everything? For example, what if even little kids in kindergarten were paid for how well they colored; People at grocery stores were paid by the cashier when they checked out for how effectively they found deals; People gave each other money at the end of each interaction based on how much value they felt they got from that interaction?
- What if money was given to people by others, but only randomly and without any explanation? Everyone had money to give away, and at the end of the day, we’d arrive home with money waiting for us in our mailbox, knowing from who and how much, but with no explanation as to why.
“I made my money the old-fashioned way. I was very nice to a wealthy relative right before he died.” — Malcolm Forbes
That’s right, we will now get a few brief moments to date a number of commonly-held beliefs around money! Each of them will tell us a little bit about themselves and what type of special date they have in mind. At the end we can pick whichever one we’re most attracted to, to potentially start a relationship with. Also, there might be certain aspects of each that you’d like to further explore or adopt. All we ask is to keep an open mind, as dating any of these characters comes with both positives and negatives.