I ran across an article some time back with the headline, “When a million isn’t enough: why bankers struggle.” The million wasn’t their savings – it was their annual income. And (fighting back sniffles here), it apparently isn’t enough.
“It’s really not that unusual to find Wall Street bankers who are close to declaring themselves bankrupt,” said Gary Goldstein, co-founder of U.S. search firm Whitney Partners. “Some people are really struggling.” And on and on the story went.
I know, I know…my heart is breaking too…
If you haven’t already figured this out, the secret to financial security is not financial. It is contentment.
You can keep raising the lifestyle bar (and your stress level) higher and higher, working harder, playing harder, keeping up and (eventually) wearing out. Or you can figure out how to get happy by lowering the bar and (here’s the secret) being content. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Rightsize. You’ve heard of downsizing. I’m not telling you the direction to go with the size of your house, car, clothing budget, vacations, entertainment, recreation or anything else. I am saying that too many of us make decisions on where we live, what we drive, how we play and how we raise our kids based on the signals others are giving to us. We’re keeping up with the Jones. Problem is, the Jones’ are stressed out and half broke, too. Figure out what lifestyle is right for you.
2. Share. Most of us could decrease expenses and increase enjoyment if we’d share more. Share meals as an alternative to always eating out. Share expensive but rarely used equipment. I’m the proud 1/3 owner of a power washer I use once or twice a year. Oh wait…I mean once every year or two.
If you have children, consider a childcare co-op for date nights. Get creative.
3. Focus. Stop doing so much. Figure out what you really enjoy and focus on that. Doing fewer things generally costs less, too.
4. Enjoy. Does the combination of work, worship, purpose and play equal something you enjoy? If not, slow down enough to ask why and what it will take to get you there.
You can keep paddling upstream against the current of never-ending spending possibilities. Or you can find a quiet cove called contentment and relax and enjoy the ride.
But you have to make the choice.