When it comes to money, everyone has a different opinion about how much money is more than enough. Some may never reach the point of having enough money by anyone’s definition. These are usually low skilled people who earn very little. For them, there is no question of saving or excess money. If they earn well, they eat well that day. When they cannot, they have to go empty stomach for the night. And on the other extreme we have people who are extremely rich by any standard. These are the Bill Gates of the world. They do not really need to work or earn more irrespective of how much they can spend. And then you have a wide spread in-between.
We find the most interesting people in the spectrum that falls in between these two extremes. But because I fall on the side of having more money than required, I made some unique observations on that side.
One kind of people are those whose expenses keep growing along with the income. So the more they earn, the more they spend. The more they spend, the more they need to earn and thus the vicious cycle. Don’t get me wrong, these people are running our economy, so I don’t have anything against them. Just an observation.
All the advertisements, social apps and status signalling encourage us to consume and spend more. If the purpose of a car is to take you from point A to point B safely while protecting you from the elements, any decent car would do. But we want to upgrade to a better car with more “features” which we rarely need or use. Same with any gadget. And I am guilty of being that person. I spend on upgrades a bit too much than necessary.
There is another kind who have enough and know they have enough, yet crave to earn more. They have enough money to support them for lifetime. They spend very less. But they don’t want to retire. Their goals are usually to earn more than someone or their previous best. It could be something like – “I want to increase my gains (income, investments etc) by Rs. 1 lakhs this year. Then next year I want to increase my gains by Rs. 2 lakhs and so on”. They are competitive and cut-throat.
Again there is nothing wrong with this kind of thinking either. These people are motivated to work hard and make a ton of money for themselves and as a result make money for the companies they work for or the businesses they run and thus building our economy. I too was like this during the time I was aggressively investing for my retirement. I had goals to increase my income every year by some amount so I can reach my goal faster.
My only gripe for this kind of a person is what will the person do with all that money. I am sure you can spend on philanthropy or leave something for you kids. But beyond that you cannot die with too much money now can you? Don’t be dying on a bed of currency notes that you could have spend when you were young. There is an interesting article on nothingness of money if you are interested.
Some have enough and know they have enough, but they don’t know what to do if they stopped working. So they just keep working. There is a saying that money gives happiness only up to a point and anything beyond that does not give anymore happiness. I have experienced this quite a bit. I just don’t feel like there is any point of having more money if I cannot even figure out how to spend what I already have.
Anyway, these kind of people usually enjoy their work so they don’t think about what other activities they’d like to do if they stop working. If you are enjoying doing something which gives you more money (even if you don’t need more), then why not? One should have a purpose in life and do something productive. The extra money may not give more happiness but the best part is that they have the flexibility of quitting anytime they want and not have to worry about anything.
Live by their own rules
Finally there are folks like me who are completely useless to the society or economy at large, but still enjoy life as it comes with relations that mean the most to them. Of course this is only possible largely in thanks to an excellent income in the past, a frugal lifestyle and more importantly, an understanding family.
Some other people are visibly upset with these kind of folks and for good reason too. How can one be lazy and not do anything and sit at home? Well, those who really know me, know that I am never free and always doing something. But for outsiders it looks that way. If these people continued working, they could improve economy by producing more goods. If they spend on things instead of being frugal, they could have encouraged more businesses to produce more thus creating more jobs. If they went to work, the excess income could have been spent on philanthropy.
But no. These scum of a kind just laze around :). My personal view is that by quitting work, I opened up a space for someone who is probably smarter or more deserving to get my job. And the job they move away from will open up opportunities for another and so on. It is not that I hated my work. In fact I thoroughly enjoyed most of my 13 years or so of work life.
I am frugal does not mean I don’t buy stuff. I buy what I need, usually expensive stuff and make them last for as long as possible. So instead of stoking the economy, I rather reduce the environmental impact I cause by buying new things and throwing old stuff. I know, it is not the same. Moreover, the old stuff I throw away could perhaps be used by someone else. But that is how I rationalize. Have a problem? I don’t care :).
Finally, I certainly could have financially helped a lot of causes if I was working. But I chose to instead help only those that I know. I don’t know what part of my donations to these large causes actually end up in the pockets of a few rich. Very few are genuinely selfless, but there are selfless people that I have seen. Anyway, monetary donation is not the only form of donation. Even spending your valuable time is a donation. And spending time/money on outsiders is not the only way to be altruistic. Your friends and family also fall in the category of those who are in need.
I am sure I fall in more than one of those categories of people at least at some point of my life. I am sure you do too. But in the end, if you have strong relationships with your friends, understanding parents, a great marriage and lovely kids and enough money to support them all for your lifetime, what more do you want in life? So, you have enough money, when you are satisfied with your life.