Monday, March 28, 2011

How much money is enough?

Great car, great man, great weather. Life is good.
The other day something my dad told me when I was young crossed my mind and since then I can't stop thinking about it. 

"As people get older, no matter how much money they have, it's never enough," he told me. "You have more bills, more responsibilities, bigger desires." Of course when he told me this back when I was around 16, money was fun but it wasn't everything. I was in high school and worked part-time at Pacific Sunwear (not like I wasn't already at the mall enough without that job). My biggest concerns were friends, boys and clothes. Money was an afterthought. As long as I had my bi-monthly paycheck and I could afford to pay for frivolous amounts of clothing at Forever 21 and all the gas needed for cruising the strip downtown (yes, we were very American Graffiti) then I was happy. 

From age 16 to 25, my father's words never quite rang true and so I assumed they must have only applied to him. But then this crazy little thing called 30 started knocking on my door the other day, warning me of its impending entrance into my life in about one year, when I realized, suddenly, that my dad was completely right. I have more money now than I've ever had since leaving the comfortable confines of my parents' house for college many moons ago. If I see something I want then I buy it. Rarely do I have to "save up" for most of my purchases (purchases like homes aside) -- a far cry from where I was just one year ago in DC. I now dine at fine restaurants, drive a nice car, tote around my stash of Nars as though I've owned it my whole life. So why isn't it enough?

Needs aside, I think what it basically comes down to is the more I have the more I want. I know that money isn't everything (in fact if I could pick just one sticking point for my entire life it would be perfect health), but money is amazing. It's fun and so far it's freeing. Suddenly things I never imagined owning or doing in my 20s -- designer things (aka not from Forever 21), trips to cute destinations like Napa, routine massages -- are a reality. It's surreal. And as disgusting as it sounds, it's not enough. I don't know why I should feel ashamed or apologetic for saying it.

I want more; I want better. Not just material things, but experiences, tastes, sights. I love where I am right now and I enjoy myself in the now, but I never want to stop fine-tuning our guage so the only way is up. Maybe I'm turning into a full-blown hedonist. Who knows.

We all have different wants and needs, but I think my dad was right: The more comfortable you grow to be, the more your standards rise. In turn many of us are forever playing the magpie -- reaching for that sparkly whatnot just out of fingertips' reach. And once you're able to grab at it, then there's something else even sparklier on the horizon. Your nest and your memories become more distended by better things and better experiences but you continue reaching. Because everyone should see a sunset over the Mediterranean once in their life, because that wine aged 18 years was the best you ever tasted, because that nice car you commute in to work makes you smile each time you fasten your seat belt. 

I guess we continually strive for more because we want to top what we've already done, no matter how great.


  1. Great article :) It's really freeing to not have to worry about money. I hate stressing about money and bills, it's no fun. I long for the days when I had disposable income!

  2. I remember the days when I had no debt and the money was pretty good. Even then there were things I wanted. Now that I have debt I am paying off I look forward to that day of not wanting. Not sure that will every happen.

  3. I'm never going to have enough money. Fact.

    I feel guilty about it. But, I don't know why I do. I work really hard and I miss my more disposable income. I'm where you were when living in DC and while it feels great to be able to live happily on very, very list of "when I start making more again, I'm going to buy/travel/do..." is getting very, very, very long.

    It's not so much that I'm materialistic - I have my wants and designers I gravitate to - but I want EXPERIENCES. I want to travel, I want to dine at fancy restaurants with friends, I want spa days and to be able to just live well.

  4. This is soooo freaking true. M and I live in a modest three bedroom home, drive fairly new cars and even have a weekend muscle car ('09 corvette), we get pampered and primped on a weekly/biweekly basis (mani/pedi/clean shave [for him]), but we want more (i.e. a bigger brick home in the Chicago Gold Coast, a nicer car, etc. etc.) Although, who doesn't?

    Soon I will be able to relish in the fact that I have absolutely NO DEBT by the end of April. And, I can already see my closet brimming full of Loubies, LV, Tory Burch and the like. It really is an exhilerating feeling to just go buy luxury items on a whim.

    PS I'm totally looking forward to routine massages!

  5. Having more makes you want more, I think. But I can't wait until husband is out of law school and we're able to start to live a bit more comfortably. Because there are things we have on hold, like buying a house, that we just can't do yet. But it's good to remember that having things always makes you want more things.