The key to your happiness is being lazier
Work less, yes, but also treat your wallet like a dumbbell.
While teaching English in South Korea, I got into an argument about money. This petty squabble wasn’t with my wife, but with another foreign teacher. I was marveling at how much financial freedom our ample salary, and lack of housing costs, would afford us when we returned stateside.
For whatever reason, this seemed to offend the guy. He regaled us with stories of long weekends in Seoul, $100 bar tabs and expensive restaurants. When he was finished, he said, “You like to brag about how much you’re saving. I’d rather brag about how much I’m living.”
Maybe it was the age difference between us —I was in the throes of my late twenties, while he, a baby comparatively, was fresh out of college—but I’d like to think I was just wiser. Money, for my wife and I, wasn’t to be spent on extravagant purchases but tucked away like a warm security blanket.
We didn’t have much use for stuff, anyway. Nearly all our possessions we sold or gave away before making the trip overseas, and we weren’t about to start amassing junk in Korea. Anything we did buy would need to be packed into boxes and shipped back on a boat.
It’s not an expat thing—but an American thing
But the more years that come between me and my time in Southeast Asia, the more I realize that my views on money don’t stem from age or wisdom, but being on the fringes of whatever capitalist fever is afflicting millennials.
To put it another way, I’m just a weirdo.
Bigger homes. Gas-guzzling cars. Fancy wines. The trappings of our culture require larger spaces, bigger bank accounts and sturdier livers. The “hustle” isn’t as much an aspiration as it is a necessity to bankroll increased appetites for spending.
You’re working way too hard
Holding down two jobs to finance a lavish lifestyle is admirable. I respect the hustle, even if I have absolutely no desire to be in charge of anything except the words I write. Working yourself to death may even make you feel like a badass.
But here’s the thing. Waking up every morning at 4:30 AM, kissing your framed photo of Gary Vaynerchuk and checking Outlook like you’re the CEO of a future Fortune 500 company is applying a maximalist approach when the opposite is just as fulfilling.
Spend less, want less and you’ll end up having to work less, too.
Guys, it’s that simple
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills every time I read a Quora question asking why people decided not to have kids, and the top response is something around wanting the money to travel.
You can raise a family and still have plenty of money left over to see the world, if you make it a priority. As someone with two kids and a trip to Europe happening in the next two weeks, I feel like I’m the world’s foremost authority on this topic.
It’s not that kids cost a lot of money—they do—but that you spend money like you’re Kanye West. Newsflash: you are not Kanye unless you are actually Kanye. In that case, hey Yeezy. I’m a big fan of your music.
Minimalism sucks sometimes
My house is 1,500 square feet. I’ve lost count of the number of my times me and my wife have lamented the lack of storage space. But, you know what? I’ll take a mortgage payment we can swing on just one of our paychecks over being house poor, any day of the week.
But, I mean, we still shop at Whole Foods and enjoy the occasional fancy restaurant. So it’s not like we’re living a Charles Dickens novel over here. We just don’t have a ton of stuff. Because there’s no place to put it.
And I guess I do have a side hustle if you count “writing on Medium” as a gig. I do make money from my stories sometimes, but I’d be lying if I said those checks went anywhere other than Starbucks. That’s another luxury I enjoy on occasion.