The reason I ask is how much money you have earned so far in your lifetime is not to focus in on “how much” income each of us has made or hasn’t made.
I ask because most of us don’t know off the top of our heads, and because taking five minutes to add it up gives you an interesting perspective on the value of money–perspective I wish I’d had ten, eight, even just five years ago. And don’t worry, tallying up your lifetime income isn’t impossible because it just needs to be an estimate.
This exercise is just for you. Chances are–whether you currently earn $6 an hour or $60–you will be surprised to see just how much you have earned in your lifetime so far. When you do see how much you have earned in your lifetime, the question of course becomes: Where has it gone? What do I have to show for it?
Of course, a bunch of it went to taxes, to pay the rent, and to have fun along the way. But is there anything left? Sure, you may have some valuable possessions, but what about savings? Investments?
I admit, if you’re like me and you don’t have a lot to show for the money you’ve earned so far in life, seeing this number can be a bit depressing. So you have to prepare for that, and let go. Don’t blame yourself for past mistakes–no matter how stupid they seem now. They are in the past; and you can’t undo them. Let this exercise instead inspire you to do great things in your future.
It inspired me as I set some financial goals for 2009. Will it inspire you, too?