Welcome to another installment of my Luxury Living series! Today, I dive into a hot, often divisive topic: money.
Money may be what you associate with “luxury” living in the first place. As I’ve written before, my concept behind luxury living is less about having money (though, no bullshit, it’s obviously connected) but also about having power and agency. Money gives you options and allows you to truly nourish yourself. Living luxuriously means fundamental stressors are covered, you are more content in your day to day, and, perhaps most importantly, you can make an impact and give back through said money, time, and other resources.
Like sex, money is at once everywhere and concurrently taboo to discuss in many social situations. And yet, it’s one of the most important types of currency we have. “But wait,” you may be thinking, “I thought money couldn’t buy happiness?” Statistics show that getting out of the money stress does affect happiness – to a degree. In fact, people’s happiness (in America) improves drastically as their income increases up to about $75,000 per year, according to a study from Princeton that is now quite famous. The same study points to how reported happiness plateaus past that metric. The fact remains: when you can afford to eat well, partake in activities you enjoy, and generally cover basic needs, life is better. The old adage that “money can’t buy happiness” is reductive and simply not true. But here’s the kicker, it’s also not completely false. Therein lies the point that the money conversation is nuanced. Instead of debating how much you should make, because, let’s face it, that’s relative to so many factors, today I’d like to focus on financial literacy. We all could stand to be more comfortable with discussing money, let alone more knowledgeable. Facing money-related fears and developing a relationship with money and all the discomfort it conjures will make you a more impactful, powerful person.
Both wealth and a lack of money can be fraught with issues if your relationship to money isn’t right. Sadly, it’s far less common than it should be to meet people who were taught effective money management skills growing up. In fact, our public schools (with some exceptions, especially in 2020), have let generations down by teaching them nothing about how to build equity while assuming that all students need to learn how to do calculus (no offense to calculus!) Many of us are taught nothing and thus learn the hard way: after accruing credit card debt or realizing what it takes to afford a house in a decent neighborhood in America. Given that our ability to house, clothe, and feed ourselves is inextricably connected to our ability to make a living in our societal system (unless, of course, you’re self-sustainable. Kudos to you if you are! For the sake of the piece, I’ll assume you’re not living off-the-grid), money should be discussed more outright. Money is the essence of our living, quite literally essential to our daily functioning. Unfortunately, we’re not taught about it in the way we’re taught grammar, how to care for our bodies and minds, how to cook, how to run laps during gym, etc. Learning calculus pays the bills for very few of us in the end.
Get comfortable discussing money & facing your money fears.
Learning to manage our “wealth” is an integral part of our overall health. We’re taught to value health, and yet we aren’t taught how money plays into that bigger picture. The goal with money is to earn it and then keep earning it even when you are not working so you can enjoy living and experience what the world has to offer. For some, it seems as though it starts with money and then ends with life whereas for others it seems as though it starts with life and ends with money. When many people face money trouble they deal with it by looking away. If you broke an ankle, would you ignore it? Nope, you’d go to the doctor, seek a specific remedy, and take it easy while you gave it time to heal. Then, you’d hopefully take measures to physically rehabilitate yourself and the strength of your overall body, which will have been impacted by weakness of your foot or less physical activity. Treat your finances the same way: look at them square on. If it’s bad, make a plan, accept it will take time, and stick with it no matter what. You wouldn’t take your cast off a week early, now would you? If you’re on a financial path, be it coming out of debt or investing your wealth properly, you need to see it through.
Regardless of whether you have heaps of money or are filing for bankruptcy, learning to use money wisely is not unlike tending to a garden. At first you must work hard. You must be thoughtful and cautious and tend to all the things which need tending. When it seems like nothing is happening, you keep tending to it. At a certain point you must sit back and allow the work to take root, remaining patient but focused. Finally, though you keep working and you keep tending, it becomes less strained and laborious as your garden grows. A well-tended garden will give you abundance over and over, barring some sort of natural emergency. Warren Buffet talks about the need to make money even while you are sleeping. Make your money work for you. If you’re an impactful human in many areas of your life: perhaps a kick-ass mom, entrepreneur, or all of the above, you should be tending to your financial health the way you do your work or kids or pilates classes. Make your money work for you!
We all have different priorities. Some enjoy a more “simple life” while others want the cars, boats, or Instagram-worthy vacations which project their monetary success. Whatever end of the spectrum you fall under, this comes back to luxury living, which boils down to comfort. When shit hits the fan in life as it is going to do, you’ll be much better suited with a safety net, comfortable home, and whatever else you need in your particular life.
At this point, you may be wondering how to actually get started on a path towards making money moves and living more luxuriously. I’ll explore that deeper in another post. For now, my suggestion is to spend some time reviewing your finances. The beginning of the year is great for this – but, of course, you should be doing it constantly. Start getting more comfortable with money, especially if it makes you uncomfortable. Let the vulnerabilities it opens up teach you rather than scare you.