Go to Google and search the phrase “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” Page after page concludes that money has no bearing on happiness. Should you be shocked that a businessman earning a six-figure salary might be unhappier than a cattle-herder in Kenya? Absolutely not.
That fact is, these analyses fall short because they don’t isolate the real thief of happiness: servitude, the antithesis of freedom. The irony is that when most people earn “more money,” it
doesn’t add freedom, it detracts. By creating Lifestyle Servitude, more money becomes destructive to the wealth trinity: family, fitness, and freedom. According to Creighton University’s Center for Marriage and Family, debt is the leading cause of strife for the newly married. Debt and Lifestyle Servitude keeps people bound to work and unbound to relationships.
A 2003 World Value Survey (worldvaluessurvey.com) found that the happiest people in the world have a tight sense of community and strong family bonds. After basic needs are met
(security, shelter, health, food), our happiness quotient is most significantly impacted by the quality of our relationships with our partners, our family, our friends, our spirituality, and ourselves.
If we are too busy chasing the next greatest gadget to strike down the competitive opulence of the Joneses, we finance our misery. The World Value Survey concluded that consumerism” is the leading obstacle to happiness.
The fact is, there are many millionaires and well paid career folks who are absolutely miserable, and it has nothing to do with the money. It has to do with their freedom. Money owns them, instead of them owning their money. The well salaried workaholic who is never home to strengthen the relationship with his wife and kids is likely to be less happier than the poor
farmer in Thailand who spends half his day tending to his fields and the other half with his family.
Freedom is a component to wealth and happiness. Those who live freer will be happier. Those who have stronger bonds with their communities and families will be happier. Those with health will be happier.
Why am I wealthy, versus the guy stuck in morning traffic driving to work? I have freedom. Iwake up and do what I want. I pursue dreams.
Money doesn’t buy happiness when it’s misused. Instead of money buying freedom, it buys bondage. “Wealth” and “happiness” are interchangeable, but only if your definition of wealth hasn’t been corrupted by society’s definition. Society says wealth is “stuff,” and because of this faulty definition, the bridge between wealth and happiness collapses.
Used properly, money buys freedom, and freedom is one parcel in the wealth trinity. Freedom buys choices. The fact is, there are plenty of poor people who live richer than their overworked upper-middle-class counterparts because the latter lack freedom, they lack solid relationships, and they lack health—all deleterious effects of working a hated job five days a week for 50 years.
Money secures one agent of the wealth formula, freedom, which is a powerful guardian to wealth’s sibling ingredients: health and relationships.
- Money buys the freedom to watch your kids grow up.
- Money buys the freedom to pursue your craziest dreams.
- Money buys the freedom to make a difference in the world.
- Money buys the freedom to build and strengthen relationships.
- Money buys the freedom to do what you love, with financial validation removed from the equation.
Are any of the above likely to make you happy? I bet they will. They certainly won’t make you unhappy.
Wealth, like health, isn’t easy and is cut from the same fabric. Their processes are identical. They require discipline, sacrifice, persistence, commitment, and yes, delayed gratification. If you can’t immunize yourself from the temptations of instant gratification, you’ll be hard pressed to find success in either health or wealth. Both demand a lifestyle shift from shortterm thinking (instant gratification) to long-term thinking (delayed gratification).
Think about the last time you bought a pack of gum. Did you fret over the price? Did you ask, “Hmmm, can I afford this?” Probably not. You bought the gum and it’s done. The purchase had no impact on your lifestyle or your future choices. To a rich man who walks into a dealership and buys a six-figure Bentley without thought, the acts are the same. Affordability is when you don’t have to think about it. If you have to think about “affordability,” you can’t afford it because affordability carries conditions and consequences. If you buy a boat and resort to mental gymnastics over affordability, YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT.
Sure you can assuage affordability and make outlandish arguments, often starting with…
“I can afford this as long as . . .
. . . I get that promotion.”
. . . my mortgage doesn’t adjust.”
. . . my stock portfolio makes another 10% this month!”
. . . my sales forecasts are double.”
. . . my wife finds a job.”
. . . I cancel my health insurance.”
This self-talk is a warning that you can’t afford it. Affordability doesn’t come with strings attached. You can bluff yourself but you can’t bluff the consequences.
So how do you know if you can afford it? If you pay cash and your lifestyle doesn’t change regardless of future circumstances, you can afford it. In other words, if you buy a boat, pay cash, and are NOT be affected by unexpected “bumps in the road,” you can afford it. Would you regret a gum purchase if you lost your job a week later? Or if your sales forecast was slashed by 50%? Nope, it wouldn’t make a difference. This is how affordability is measured against your level of wealth.
The text above is an excerpt from The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ de Marco