As many readers have already discovered, The Simple Dollar had a great post last week: Everything You Ever Really Needed to Know About Personal Finance on the Back of Five Business Cards. It’s true, all the fundamentals are there. Of all the advice in the post, one really stuck with me.
“It’s not about being rich, it’s about freedom.”
I had a sobering moment one day last year when my manager at a part-time job, who was also a friend, jokingly said to me “it’s all about money with you!”
Of course, she was trying for the thousandth time to persuade me to quit my higher-paying full-time job to work the other job full-time. I would have loved to. I had more friends and more fun at that part-time job than I have ever had in my “real career”. But I couldn’t, because I have debts to pay. Big debts.
Outside of this blog I’m pretty private about my finances with all but my closest friends, as I believe most people are. But to those who don’t know me, with all my career moves and second-jobs and side businesses, it looks like I have a one-track mind: making money.
That’s really far from the truth. I don’t care about money. I care about the freedom money can provide.
Like so many Americans, I’m trapped by debts and, to some extent, social expectations of how I should live.
If I don’t earn enough money to make the minimum payments on my debts, I potentially go bankrupt and face an embarrassing legal nightmare for the next seven to ten years.
If I don’t earn enough money to rent an apartment, drive a car, and feed myself, I end up as an adult who is at least somewhat dependent on others. In today’s society, that’s a big stigma to carry.
So the next time you find yourself thinking about earning, saving, or spending money, remind yourself: it’s not about the money itself, it’s about what that money will let you do. It’s about the freedom.