Financial

Money Isn’t Everything And It Isn’t You

One of the downsides of having a personal finance blog is that you often get stuck thinking and talking about the same stuff – taxes, salaries, retirement, blah blah blah; sometimes you need to take a step back and enjoy the things in life that aren’t related to money.

Life is about happiness, not money.

The difficult thing about money is that when you don’t have much of it, you are almost forced to focus on getting more. The difference between earning $0 a year and $10,000 is seriously significant. It’s the difference between eating and not eating. The difference between $10,000 and $20,000 is also very seriously significant. Now take a look at the difference between $100,000 and $110,000… the difference is still “only” $10,000 but the actual impact on the quality of your life is much less significant than $0 to $10k increase. When you’re making $0, you want to make more and you try whatever you can to put yourself in a position to make more because each extra dollar you earn means you or your loved ones will eat that night. In that mode, money is everything because you’re fighting to satisfy your need to eat and need for shelter. However, the sickening cycle is such that even when you’ve “made it,” you’ll want more because you’ve already pegged your happiness to how much money you’re making. The happiest families are the ones that enjoy what they have, even if it’s very little.

You are not your income. You are not your assets.

The second point I want to make is that you are not what you make or what you own. Someone who makes $10,000 is not a worse person than someone who makes $20,000 or even $200,000. Do not let your annual income define who you are and don’t chase after that extra dollar because you want to impress your peers. There are some of the hardest working people, the nicest and kindest people, and some of the most generous people; busting their asses off for minimum wage. (the federal minimum wage is only $5.15, which means 50 weeks of 40 hours earns $10,300 – which is another issue entirely and a travesty of pretty epic proportions) I’d take any one of them working in a business I start over the hordes of useless middle managers in large corporations, even though the managers “earn” more in salary.

As always, if you have any thoughts on the matter, please do share!

Another possible result of a higher minimum wage could simply be more unemployed people. At some point it starts being more cost effective to buy a few Roombas rather than to hire that minimum wage McDonald’s lobby cleaner, or to just leave things dirty for that matter. Or for many jobs, to outsource them to China or India or wherever, where many will gladly work for less, under worse conditions. Also, in addition to students/teenagers, there are also people who take minimum wage jobs for the benefits, such as health insurance–for someone who needs it, that benefit alone might be worth enough to them that they’d work for free.

Another possible result of a higher minimum wage could simply be more unemployed people. At some point it starts being more cost effective to buy a few Roombas rather than to hire that minimum wage McDonald’s lobby cleaner, or to just leave things dirty for that matter. Or for many jobs, to outsource them to China or India or wherever, where many will gladly work for less, under worse conditions. Also, in addition to students/teenagers, there are also people who take minimum wage jobs for the benefits, such as health insurance–for someone who needs it, that benefit alone might be worth enough to them that they’d work for free.

Chalk me up as a free market advocate, but I generally think the government does more harm than good when they get too involved with this stuff. They don’t accomplish what they’re trying to anyway, and they make all sorts of other things worse in the process of their failure. But hey, if it sounds good to enough people, maybe it’ll get them reelected…

Oh, that wasn’t your main topic? Capitalist though I may be, I agree wholeheartedly that money is far from the most important thing in life.

While I agree that raising minimum wage does have trickle down effects and higher costs here will lead to (or has already led to) outsourcing, you’ll have companies who will use US based manufacturing as a marketing point (American Apparel) and consumers who will appreciate that.

While I am a free market economy, Adam Smith laissez-faire type guy, I do recognize that government has long since given up to having the invisible hand do its dirty work and that if we’re going to meddle, we might as meddle the whole way and help some people out who really do need it. The working poor is one of the great tragic relics of our society, especially when you put them next to the non-working poor.

The beauty of discussion is that the topic goes to where the interest of the group is and I’m not one to stop it.

One of the ancient rules of economics: the “feel good”, “help people out” option is often the one that ends up hurting more than helping. This is a corollary of the ancient rule that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…

People should check out the history of the minimum wage. It was not started by “nice people” who wanted to “help out” workers. It was intended as an odd sort of weapon against working women, advanced by people who bought into “eugenics” theories of the sort that were popular in the early 20th century.

I’m not even convinced there should be a minimum wage. The market should set wages. If I own a fruit stand that sells $5 worth of fruit per day, am I going to hire someone for $8 an hour to man that stand? That’s an extreme illustrative example, but I just think that businesses are created for their owners to make money, and artifically inflating one of their costs doesn’t help anyone.

Great point you make in the blog. People can sometimes have an unhealthy obsession with money that gets in the way of their true day to day happiness.

I would guess that most of you on here arguing against a higher minumum wage are sitting at home on your fancy computers, all warm in your nice houses, right after you came home from your salaried job. You have never seen the effects of how working your asses off all day for 5.15 can hour can affect you. Not enough money to pay the rent, feed the kids, pay the bills etc. I come from a community where a few rich people rule, and many live in poverty, all the while slaving their asses off to serve the rich, because it is the only job they can get…..

And someone makes the argument that we do not want to raise the costs for those business owners and corporations. How do you think people feel when fortune 500 CEO’s are bringing home 100’s of millions of dollars a year, and thier child has no dinner. There is something to be said for working hard and creating a good life for yourself. But there is also something to be said for helping others out and having some sesnse of compassion…..not just giving lip service to compassion.

Most people I know make quite a bit of money and then feel great if they give away 100 dollars in a year…..get over yourselves. I think the biggest downfall of our “great country” is our pursuit of wealth at all costs while those around us are suffering just to survive from day to day. We send money to Africa and what not, but we cannot pay people enough just to eat a decent meal.

It seems every day I am less and less proud of how this country runs itself.

I was just thinking of that very same thing this past few days. Of course, money is important. But like you say, it’s not everything, and it won’t make you happy in itself… but it sure makes lif easier.

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