Can Money Buy Happiness? Is Success Defined by Money?
Before we start off with this article, it is important to mention that there is no single way of living a successful life. Different things work out for different people because we are all created in a different mould. Our circumstances, likes, dislikes and preferences are all different from each other. Our personalities differ greatly from each other, some people are introverts while some are extroverts. Each of us experiences life in a different manner and our experiences shape our reality.
Therefore, if you do not feel that what we are going to discuss, matches with how you want to live your life or how you have lived your life, then there is absolutely no need to worry.
What is Success?
As mentioned above, the definition of success varies from person to person. For a person success may mean having enough money to pay the bills, while for someone else success may mean having enough money in the bank to last through their retirement. Someone else may see success as climbing the career ladders and reaching the top of one’s profession. Success is therefore a subjective idea.
In this article thus, the term “successful life” will be understood as a life without any debt and a life of financial independence.
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Modern Day Slavery
The day and age that we live in, is one where human beings have been trapped in a never ending cycle. You need loans to fund your college and university education and then you need to work to pay off those loans. While you are working, if you decide to marry and settle down, you will need to take out a mortgage for your house and a lease for your car. In the meanwhile you may also get some debt on your credit card.
This is what an average person goes through. There is no choice, unless you belong to the upper class where you have access to generational wealth, in that case you will belong to a very small and privileged minority that can do whatever it likes to pursue in life.
Most of the people however are trapped by default into this system where no matter what, we have to get indebted and then we have to spend a good portion of our lives, trying to work our bones off to pay back the debt. If we are not careful enough during this period, we may end up getting indebted further.
Think of it like this, the modern man is just like a slave. A slave in ancient times had only two ways of attaining freedom. The slave could either be set free by their owner, or the slave could save their earnings little by little to buy their own freedom. The former was a stroke of luck while the latter was extremely difficult because the slaves did not get enough money to start off with. Only very generous slave owners cared to pay their slaves fair wages for their work. For most people in the ancient times, the slaves were simply “slaves”.
The modern man is similar to the ancient slaves in this manner. The system indebts us, thus making us a slave and forcing us to provide our labour, so that we can earn a meagre income to support ourselves and pay back the debt that we owe to the system, by design.
It is therefore as difficult to escape the system today as it was in the past for the slaves. Difficult yes but not impossible. This is where the similarities end. Today you can become financially independent if you follow financial and self discipline. Millennials in particular seemed to have discovered the art of attaining financial independence and retiring early to escape the 9-5 rat race.
Personal Financial Management
The key to financial discipline is controlling your expenditures. There are three main pillars of personal finance, namely
Saving and investing are all linked with spending. If you can control your spending, you automatically increase your savings and thus your investments go up as well. If you cannot control your spending, then your savings will go down and so will your investments.
Controlling your expenditure can be done in a number of different ways. If you go through some of the older posts on this blog, you will find ways of saving more. In this article we are going to focus on an aspect we have not discussed in detail before and that is differentiating between your needs and your wants.
Your needs are the expenditures that you absolutely need to incur in order to live. Your wants are all of those expenditures that you can do without. In other terms, wants can be categorized as a luxury for anyone who is indebted or going through financial stress.
If you simply focus on what you need to live a simple life and start cutting down on your wants, you will soon find out that you can reduce your expenditure and increase your savings rate with a little self discipline. Cutting down on the wants, is not going to be easy if you spend a lot on things that you do not really need.
Do you really need that tv? Some people may as well categorize tv as a need but if you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s then this is your prime age, where you can exert your mind and body. You can use your free time to learn new skills to increase your employability, furthermore even if you want to rest and have some leisure time. Then you can do so with a computer, laptop or any other device with access to the internet. Everything today is online, you can stream online, watch movies etc. So having a TV with cable subscription is simply a luxury that many people can do without.
Now this was just an example. There are many things that we can live without. But it all depends on what you have defined as success and what your goal is. If your goal is to get free of debt and become financially independent, then you will need to get into a mindset where you should be willing to do anything to achieve that goal.
“Anything” here implies cutting down the wants and focusing only on the needs, to attain the goal. It is possible, plenty of people do it and become debt-free each year. If they can do it, so can you.
Australia Unwrapped provides only general, and not personalised financial advice, and in no way has taken your personal circumstances into account. Investments go up and down, any questions talk to a financial advisor. This blog is opinion only and in no way should investment decisions be based on this information.
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