Ecclesiastes (5:19b) “To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.”
I remember reading an interview with one of the wealthiest men in the world who made his money off of owning properties. The interviewer asked him what was enough, and his response was very simple: “I don’t need all the land; I just want whatever land is touching mine.” As this suggests, the pursuit of wealth can become an insatiable hunger. Money has its risks, especially since the detective show Castle claims that the three main motives for murder are love, protecting a secret, and money, and this has to be true because TV never lies.
Money and its pursuit may have its potential risks, but money isn’t the disease; it’s more like a medicine with potentially dangerous side effects like depression meds potentially causing suicide (a crazy truth, I know). I have personally discovered that money CAN buy happiness. Daniel Tosh, one of my favourite comedians, says: “People say money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can buy a Wave Runner. Have you ever seen someone sad on a Wave Runner? It’s impossible.” (para) When I say money CAN buy happiness I don’t mean it can buy us stuff that gives us temporary excitement. I mean money CAN buy happiness in the sense that we CAN feel completely at peace. Money CAN buy happiness when we find contentment with what we have and where we are in life (i.e. we accept ‘our lot in life’).
If you combine both mine and my wife’s salary we make about as much as a public school principal. Individually, we make significantly less than government workers like policemen, firemen, and teachers. As one teacher said to me, “I’m glad I got a raise because (naming the amount of money I make a year without realizing it) is total garbage!” That was a good moment for my manhood: (in my head) “Yup, my taxes have given you the opportunity to say that my wage is garbage. This feels really fair.” I bring up this point about how much I make because I want to be clear that I DON’T make very much money compared to a lot of people… and I like to make digs at government workers as much as I can because many of them are whiners. I make less money than many people, but unlike many people I feel happy, genuinely happy. (Please note: You can be genuinely happy and still get angry; I’m not delusional; I’m happy.)
Two weeks ago I gave ten reasons I have reached a new level of peace and happiness. Arguably the most important factor is money and how I see it, treat it, and established my budget. As King Solomon teaches: “To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.” (Ecc 5:19b) There are many people who make more money than I do and have achieved much greater successes, but they don’t accept their ‘lot in life’. They can’t find peace and happiness because there is always something more they think they need. I still have dreams and aspirations, but I don’t need them to work out in order to “one day” be happy like I used to. I still care about people and want to make them happy, but I don’t need to make them happy anymore. I’m content, which is at the root of happiness. Being content is like saying “I have enough in this moment,” which means you live very responsibly by delaying satisfaction until you can properly afford it; you have a cushion of savings and don’t live paycheck to paycheck. I’d also argue it means you don’t work a job with a commute that sucks your soul dry in order to have more stuff when you could make less and live closer to home. Time is often more valuable than money.
To follow monk philosophy, everything you own takes a part of you as it requires you to take care of it, maintain it, and protect it from others. The more you have the more of a slave you become. Money can buy stuff or it can buy happiness. How are you going to use it?
Important Tips to Find Happiness through Money:
- Donate: There is pleasure found in helping others, but I recommend picking a select few charities to support and not feel like you have to help every case you see.
- Spend Less than You Make: Learn how to reduce your spending below your income enough that you aren’t living pay cheque to pay cheque and under the weight of debt.
- Learn how to live without: Because I was so poor and cheap in my twenties I learned how to be content without things like going to restaurants and wearing expensive clothes.
- Find ways to reduce spending: For example, I haven’t paid for a haircut in over ten years because my wife does it and no, she was never trained; it was full on experiment and guessing, but I’m a guy and it’s hair so who cares.
- Avoid Costly Habits: For example, don’t develop habits that cost money like buying coffee every day because this really adds up.
- Enjoy Simplicity: Learn to appreciate the smaller things in life and avoid the trap of buying all the latest and greatest. I still use an iPhone 4 because it works well enough.
- Buy What You can Afford: For example, do your best to pay cash for your car and avoid interest payments. Paying interest is throwing money away that can be used for things you care about.
- Credit Cards are a Gift (when used properly): Buy everything with your credit card (and pay it off monthly) because this gives you a tally of all your expenses, and even better, the right card will give points or cash back.
- Be Open to Cheaper Ways of Doing Things: For instance, I love the library; everything is free and no clutter after. I also like to travel with friends in order to share the costs. Plus, it ends up being a great way to connect with people for a week or weekend and open the door to new conversations since my wife and I have limited conversation points left. New people mean new conversations and my wife and I sharing our story together to them, which is bonding for us.
- Sacrifice: I’d love to play hockey, but it’s just too expensive for me while playing ultimate Frisbee, which is a lot cheaper, gives me a similar joy.
- Budget: Budgets help you know how much money you have to work with and can be great for seeing how you can spend less. It also helps point out where your money is going. For instance, if you spend $10 on drinks a week, over the year you’ll spend $520. If you pay $50 a month on your phone that’s $600 a year. Most people have $100 plans, which means they’re paying $1200 a year on a phone. That’s a lot of hours of work. Is it really worth it? Your budget can help determine that.
**BEST Thing I’ve Done to Save Money: I have saved a ton of money by not drinking alcohol and choosing tap water over juice or bottled water. I mean I have saved A LOT of money (and calories). In my early twenties I went to Europe twice with the amount of money I saved and had no school debt. As someone who hasn’t made a lot, this has been by far the greatest cost savings I’ve had.
This week may you start your own path to happiness by figuring out how you want to spend
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people