How Much Money Do You Really Need?

In case you don’t see the featured image for this post, I’ll summarize it for you: it’s a Ricky Gervais tweet, with him holding a cat, and this caption:

When I was really poor, I got so fed up with having only T shirts and old sweat pants to wear, that I tried to make a suit out of curtains. Now I can afford to wear anything I want. So I wear T shirts and old sweat pants. Probably some moral to this story. Anyway, here’s a cat.

Ricky Gervais

Far from me even the thought of trying to find some moral to this post. But I find it real enough to write about it in today’s article. Also, I resonate a lot with this story.

Just like Ricky, I’ve been in that place more than once. I dreamed to have the most beautiful car in the world, the nicest house, the best lifestyle. I hustled hard for this. Decades. At some point, I made it.

Guess what? After I drove the car, after I lived in the house, after I’ve experienced a little bit of that lifestyle, it didn’t feel that great. I mean, it was nice, no need to lie about this. At times, it was even great. But it wasn’t how I projected it. It wasn’t quite as I expected it.

You see, we create in our minds the picture of the “perfect life” and then strive to achieve it. We tell ourselves a great story, in which we are the main character, and then act upon this fantasy, start to work towards that goal, to live what we think it’s a perfect life.

But there is no such thing as a “perfect life”, it’s all in our head. It’s just a story we tell ourselves while we go around in that normal car, while we rent an apartment instead of owning a big house, thinking we will feel different when that story will come to life. No, it won’t happen like that. In case we really make it, we will feel displaced. Not at ease. Somehow guilty and disoriented. “Who the fuck is this person driving this expensive car and why does she lives in this huge house?”.

A sudden change in our lifestyle is stressful regardless of its direction: up or down. Winning the lottery will wreck just as much havoc as a sudden misfortune. It will throw us on a different lane, one where we have no idea how to drive.

That’s why I’m not following that route anymore. I know how it feels.

From what I wrote so far you may get the impression that I’m advocating a life of scarcity. No way. I do believe we need money to live a fulfilling life. I just don’t think we need that much.

It all boils down to the concept of financial resilience – which is not financial abundance. Financial resilience is about maintaining a steady income no matter the surrounding context. Financial resilience makes it possible to live a good life in a different country, for instance, or when the economy takes a downturn, or when you can’t (or don’t want) to work as much as you used to. It’s not luxury, as luxury comes at a cost. The cost of maintaining it, the cost of getting attached to it, the cost of adjusting to whatever other people think or establish the latest trend rich people must follow is. Not liking that. At all. It’s tiring.

I’d rather stick to my T shirts and old sweat pants.

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