“Spend less than you make.” Such a simple yet complex phrase. But what does it really mean? This series of posts will take an in-depth look at just what it means to spend less than you make.
What is to spend less than you make? For some, it is the core of their essence, what drives them when they wake up, what they think about when they go to bed. It is what stops them in the store, and what keeps them going to work. For others, it is a catch-phrase, a cliche, a cop-out. It is a mere formality, an obvious understatement, a meaningless phrase.
At face value, the phrase is self explanatory. Spend (as in purchase) less (as in, not more) than you make (your income). What more could be said?
Making is Necessary
In order to spend less than you make, you have to make something. It is impossible to spend less than nothing. It is quite possible to spend nothing. I spent the majority of the first three years of my life spending nothing. However, I was also not making anything either, meaning that I wasn’t spending less than I was making, I was spending the entirity of what I was making. I just happened to be making nothing.
In order to live in this world, you’re going to have to make money. There is no set amount of money that you have to make, and there are tons of different ways of going about making that money – but you do have to make something.
How you go about doing that is up to you. You can make money doing customer service, or manual labour, or on your uncle’s farm. You can make money selling things, buying things, or salvaging things. You can find money where no one else has dared to look, you can acquire money through nefarious means, you can earn money investing your money, or other people’s money. Some choose how they make their money, for some, the choice is made for them. Some have plenty of options, some don’t have any options. It doesn’t really matter how you go about making money, you just need to make it.
The best thing you can do is to figure out a way to enjoy making money. Making money is necessary, but it shouldn’t destroy your life.
Making is Natural
Humans were made to work. Its part of our structure, our genes, who we were made to be. Its why at the end of a long hard day, you relax. Its why it feels good to go to bed a little sore. Its why we push ourselves, strain against restraints, and try to be the best in our field. Its why being bed ridden destroys us, why a desk job feels so unnatural, why the sunshine wakes us up in the morning. We were made to work, its part of our natural rhythm.
Our entire society, our culture, our lifestyles, revolve around making money. Those that refuse to make money are the odd ones out – and even they often try to find or use or make money on the side, to support their non-money-making life. When you wake up in the morning, you go somewhere you can make money. When you come home from making money, you find ways to save money, so you don’t have to spend even more time making more money. The majority of light night television exists as a way to make someone else some money, while removing you from yours. The majority of interactions we have with other people – especially strangers, revolves around one person making money and another person spending it. The majority of our life is spent making money, worrying about making money, and spending the money that we made.
It may not be ideal, but it has become normal, natural, and virtually inescapable.
Making isn’t Everything
Making money may be necessary, and it may dominate our lives, but it isn’t everything. There is no point in making money just to have money. As I mentioned before, money is made to spent, not hoarded. Find out how much money you need, find out how much money is enough, and make that much – then stop. Don’t find extra work, extra jobs, side work, side jobs. Don’t scrimp and scrounge and save, unless you need to.
Your life is not your work. Your life is your relationships, you goals, your dreams, your children. Your life is not the size of your bank account or your investment portfolio. Do not become obsessed with making money. You will never have enough.
There are a lot of people that have lost their jobs recently. While that is heartbreaking, despairing, and difficult, it is not the end of the world. There are other ways to make money. You are not your job, your paycheck, or a subject of your employer’s kingdom. You are yourself, and your job does not define who you are. For some, their job is an extension of who they are. Instead of the work confining and crushing the person into a misshapen wench, their job flows as naturally from them as does their speech. There is a difference, and it is an important one.
Don’t get caught up by jobs, and roles, and salaries. Don’t do work that you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing for free, work that might be unethical or inhumane. Don’t do work where the money isn’t worth it. Find something else. You aren’t as trapped as you think you are.
Don’t chase a paycheck to live a life you don’t enjoy anyways. If you need to hold a certain job to maintain a certain lifestyle, change your lifestyle. Being a hermit can be remarkably enjoyable. Taking the bus is transportation and entertainment. Renting is not for those of a lower class.
Making money may be necessary, but it isn’t everything. Stop pretending it is.
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