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What I Learned From My Money Story (Part 2)

April 30, 2014

Is money the centre of your universe? If it is, you should consider a change. thoughts-about-money-300x163Obviously, money is important but where should it rank when compared with love, health, happiness or career satisfaction? I’d like to think we can have it all but, sometimes, trade-offs are necessary.

Last week, I shared my own story and idea that, perhaps, money became a bit of an obsession for me. Thinking through some past decisions, I realize that money was a big factor in many of them. Is this wrong? Today, my older, wiser self believes that money is just one tool (of many) to help us live a good life. Ideally, it should be a “byproduct” of a successful life rather than the primary goal.

Here’s what I’ve learned…

Career enjoyment trumps money over the long term

From time to time, we all make career sacrifices. Short term sacrifices, while tough, can be well worth it. Like staying in a job you hate to fund education towards a more satisfying career. However, over the long term, it takes quite a toll to stay in an ugly job just for the money. If you’re willing to remain dissatisfied with your job, you need other parts of your life to make up for the “shortfall” i.e. great relationships, free time for passions/hobbies etc.

You may never discover what you really enjoy in a career unless you’re willing to try out a few of them first. After working for only 2 different companies over 25+years, I wish I’d done more of this. Don’t be afraid to fail- I learned more from my mistakes than my successes. Even though they’re hard to forget, don’t let them shatter your confidence or take them personally.

It’s far easier to take big career risks when you’re young with few responsibilities. I wish I’d thought more about this in my 20’s. Be aware that your interests, needs and desires may change over time. After several years, I was surprised to find that a job I once enjoyed became an unfulfilling chore that I struggled to get out of bed for each day. Keep your marketable skills current and adjust your career accordingly.

Cheap is not always best

I’ve made many mistakes, in the past, by valuing price over quality. Fine for unimportant, insignificant or replaceable items like trendy clothes or accessories. Not so fine for important, long term purchases that need to last like cars, houses or education. Forget about how others spend their money and focus on what you and your family want- it’s very liberating.

I now try to think of spending in terms of satisfaction vs. cost. I’m willing to spend the most on things that give me the highest level of satisfaction and happiness. For the rest, I will cut to the bone. At my age/stage of life, travel is at the top of the list. A very expensive hobby. Consequently, everything else is at the bottom. I’ve become quite good at reducing, reusing, recycling and doing without to fund my next getaway. And, I’m proud to finally say that I really don’t care what others think. Even my mother.

Worrying about money (or anything) isn’t fun

If you spend too much time or effort worrying about money, it’s time to stop. Take a look at your financial situation (on paper) and come up with a plan. Start by listing your short and long term goals. Then, make sure your spending and savings are aligned. Whether you earn $20,000 or $200,000, everyone needs a budget. Yes, it’s not fun, takes time to get right and might be painful. But, a budget is still the BEST tool you have to make sure you spend on things that are important to you! Once you have a good one in place, you’ll rest easy and know what’s affordable or not.

If you need help with your finances, find support from a trusted professional or money savvy friend. The sooner you stop worrying about money the more you’ll enjoy life.

Some things are worth doing today

Saving for the future is important. So, too, is enjoying some of your money today. It’s all about balance. I’ve promised myself NOT to do what my father did- that is, to postpone most of my desired travel until late in life. You never know what’s around the corner.

Have any comments or feedback? Would love to hear them!

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