Are you rich but unhappy? Or poor and happy Or something else?

I think it is time for a discussion. About MONEY. Even Seth Godin wants to think about it!

Money is on my mind a lot these days. It is the first time in years that I am not bringing a paycheck home. We are paying our bills, thanks to my husband having a job, but I never imagined I’d ever go this long without contributing to the family income (or cash-flow) …

I am doing a LOT of other things to contribute to family life and I am not unhappy by any means, but I do *think* about money a lot.

Ever since I started thinking up this post, I have been thinking about what money means to my happiness. And how much money I need to be happy? Is it the cash-flow that bothers me, is it that these days we are saving no money for the future, or the fact that there is really very little stretching we can afford to do financially at this point in our lives? Money is a non issue at this point  but if I my financial situation stays the same, will I eventually get exhausted of this whole frugality thing? And will lack of pocket money and no contribution to the future fund worry me into some unhappiness? When will that be and what should I do ….?

Well, of course, having no money is hardly a situation to be happy about for anyone. But once we are able to put food on the table, so to speak, just how much money do we need to be happy? And how much money do we need to not worry about our finances? I understand that all these things vary for different people and I really want to have a conversation around it.

I wish I had a picture of the home I grew up in. I did not grow up rich at all. Or so I believe. My dad is a smart guy, but he is not and never was a businessman. For years and years, I remember him struggling to pay off loans that he had made. His would worry for days before he found the courage to ask someone for the money they owe him – for supplies he had provided them months ago. As a child, I just watched, quietly listened and then worried about how much my parents struggled for money.

Those are the memories I have of money from my childhood. I had parents that always provided, but I had parents that always seemed to struggle to get money together. With four kids, they perhaps had a LOT of expenses …In all honesty, I have no idea about how rich or poor my parents were. To ask my parents for a few Rupees was a painful task and often, I’d survive for days from the change at the last shopping trip to the drugstore.

So, deep inside, from the money story I sew together with my memories is one of mild poverty – I was uneasy about money, it worried me, caused pain to my parents and stressed the heck out of me. We were always middle-class, but in my head, I was poverty stricken.

Coming to the USA with a graduate scholarship was incredibly cathartic. All of a sudden, I had money, my own money. Enough money for food, shelter, a few experiences, little gifts and then some to save off for a rainy day. It seemed to me that for the first time in my life, I was not thinking about money. I had enough to no worry about money and start concentrating on being happy.

The little money I had made me independent and secure. Let me have the things that are important to me. Took money off my mind. And let me concentrate some energy on being happy.

That is when I figured out that I had a certain relationship with money.

Money to me is like having another person in my life – one who complicates and/or simplifies my life in powerful ways. A necessary evil. A good friend who I fight with often.

And over the years I have learned that like most things in life, what I make of money and the happiness I derive from it is more about what is inside me than the absolute money I have in my pocketbook.

I did research money and it’s effects on happiness and basically found that money does buy happiness to some extent. They listed the happiest nations and talked about how people in richer nations are somewhat happier. Prosperity does contribute to happiness but so do freedom and equality ….

So as individuals we all have to figure out (once we have our basic needs met), what our individual relationship with money is. And how to manage it.

Once we have learned to do that, we have successfully gotten money out of our worry systems, we simplify our lives and can focus on what REALLY makes us happy.

So this is my relationship with money. Like EVERY relationship, my relationship with money has 2 parts – the money and the part of me that relates to the money.

MY MONEY and ME

I will leave you with this. I will come back and talk about my relationship with money in some more detail in my next post. And then we can talk about how we can be find money and happiness if we had way too much or too little of one or the other.

My life is RICH and I could not be happier. BUT there is no denying that if I had a little more money, I’d put it towards a few experiences(travel) and conferences like @jeffpulver ‘s #140char conference, TEDIndia and our very own local Gnomedex. But having less money makes you creative and I am exploring scholarship opportunities in both cases, but it is a struggle … perhaps I should start my education fund :)

So, I am curious.

Would you call yourself rich but unhappy, poor but happy?

WHAT is YOUR relationship with money? What would YOU do if you had a little more money?

Creative Commons License photo credit: psyberartist

  • Nisha Thakur

    In my view,money is an essential part of our lives but there are many things more importanat than money i.e. love of our friends,family and other relations

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