"We're living in a Culture of More versus a Culture of Enough." - Neil Pasricha
Up until 2 years ago, I made sure I was always making money. Never calculating how much I actually needed, my default was set to more. Mo money meant mo progress. The amount of money in my bank account didn't matter. If it wasn't growing, then it wasn't enough. I'd often work day and night on multiple projects at the same time. The result? I was perpetually stressed. I burnt myself out prioritizing money over health. Boy, was I dumb.
"The desire for money consumes our time, wastes our energy, compromises our values, and limits our potential." - Joshua Becker
Lately, I've been learning about minimalism: how to live more with less. It's not about owning only 20 things or living in a tiny house, it's about pursuing what you value the most by removing anything that distracts you from it. In my case, the endless pursuit of money was distracting me from living the life I wanted. Money had power over my life. It dictated where I lived (far away from loved ones), how much I worked (50 - 70 hours per week), and my health (lack of sleep due to work). Giving money that kind power was foolish.
Money is just a tool. It's meant to help me survive, not be my life's purpose.
I used to tell myself that chasing money wasn't important, but my actions proved otherwise. If I didn't change my relationship with money now, I'd continue to let it control my life.
I thought a good first step would be to define my needs and, within that, figuring out how much money would be required to maintain a minimum standard of living. Confronting my finances has always been uncomfortable, which is why I was financially irresponsible. After winning a battle with procrastination, I got out a pen, paper, and calculator and finally figured out my basic needs:
- Transportation (gas + insurance)
- Health (insurance + monthly fees)
- Subscriptions (phone, web hosting, Adobe CC)
The first thing I noticed was that I spent a lot of money on things I didn't need. Eating out, coffee, and new clothing just to name a few. After calculating the annual costs of my needs, I was surprised to find that I needed far less money than I thought.
"I don't need to make a million dollars, I just need to make a living."
Numbers don't lie. I thought I had to make a lot of money to live. It turns out I've been making enough to live this entire time. It helps that I have no debt, no kids, and no mortgage. The knowledge that I have enough has erased most of my financial stress like a Lebron block on Andre Iguodala.
Adopting a minimalistic mindset, I'm cutting back on the luxuries in life; I'm spending less money eating out, going out with friends, and watching films in the theater. It hasn't been the most enjoyable experience, but I know future Phil will thank me.
All things considered, it's a relief to know that, as of today, I don't have to prioritize money over everything else in my life. I can pursue new challenges like camera operating or writing purely out of curiosity and joy rather than worrying about how much money each pursuit will generate.
Defining how much is enough doesn't set me up to never worry about money again. What it has done is lay the groundwork towards financial independence. It's changed my relationship with money forever. Money doesn't control me anymore. It's just a tool I use to survive. Nothing more, nothing less.