Have you seen this article making the rounds today?
10 REASONS I’VE CHOSEN NOT TO BE RICH
The people that have been linking to this article seem to resonate with the message. On the surface the message seems good: that we should value time, experience, and freedom more than money. But when you actually start to think about it, the concept of consciously choosing not to be rich, or even thinking about money this way, is asinine.
Lets take the ten points as they are listed in the article.
1. “I value time over money”
The author states that he values time over money and therefore does not want to spend the extra time to make extra money. Ok, good. I get that you don’t want a job where you work 90 hours a week, but that really doesn’t have much to do with whether you are rich or not. There are teachers, and aid workers, and all kinds of jobs that take tons of time, but pay little. Conversely there are lots of high paying jobs that ask for 40 hours a week.
Most of the time when I hear this argument, its from people who are in fact working 40 hours a week in retail or food service or some other low-wage job. Nothing wrong with that, I have worked those jobs and would do it again if I had to, but by making less you are not saving time. In fact better jobs often have better vacation time and more flexible hoursm yielding more time for yourself, not less.
2. What I do is more important that what I have
Deciding not to become a banker because you love teaching is not the same as actively deciding not to be rich. Yes, your passions may steer you into a career path that does not pay a ton of money, but that does not mean you don’t try to make as much money as you can at what you do. I know artists, teachers, charity workers, readers, musicians and lots of others who follow their muse, but they still attempt to maximize their profits. This idea that if you think about being rich at all, you must be some money-obsessed hedge fund dick is just wrong.
3. I value experiences over things
Now it just get’s silly. The author states that travel and exploring new things costs less than buying things. It really depends on what things and what experiences though doesn’t it? Sure an Anderson & Sheppard suit will run you $3,000, which is about the amount of money it costs to Fly from NYC to Kathmandu and stay for a month if you are frugal. On the other hand, if you want to go to Bhutan it will cost you $290 a day just for the visa, which would get you a perfectly nice Perry Ellis suit.
I have traveled on the cheap. I had to hitchhike from Brugge to London* in order to catch a flight home because I did Europe so cheap. There was a LOT that I just could not afford to do. So really, whether you get off on buying crap to put in your house, or spending on travel and experiences, it all costs money.
4. More money won’t make me happier
The author once read an article that “happiness is found at approximately $75,000 a year: where a family has enough to meet all their needs with a little extra to do what they like. ”
That is true for the time being, but it won’t last. $75 won’t allow you to put away enough for a comfortable retirement, which if medical science keeps prolonging life, could be well over 50 years long. It probably won’t allow you to save six months to a years worth of income as an emergency fund. It may not allow you to pay for your children’s college, etc.
In short, more money may not increase your “net happiness” at the moment, but it can help insure it for the future. It also won’t detract from your net happiness in the present, so why the fuck would you “choose not to be rich”?
5. Money is a tool, not a score
I agree completely with the author on this point, but again, he keeps coming back to this idea that to make more money you HAVE to spend more time. This is a bogus concept.
6. I value my freedom.
The author states that “My current job allows me to earn enough while being my own boss. The freedom to be able to make my own decisions when it comes to work and play is far more valuable to me than to earn more, but lose that freedom“.
Riiiiiiiight. But most people are not editors of an online money website. He acts like lower paying jobs intrinsically offer more freedom, which is absolutely the opposite of the truth. In general higher paying jobs offer more freedom in terms of vacation time and money to spend. By having excess income you can even afford to take sabbaticals for months or years on end just to live free. The manager at the local McDonald’s is not reveling in such freedom I assure you.
The author notes the freedom that comes when you are your own boss. It is absolutely true, but again, what does this have to do with not being rich, Most people who are their own bosses are entrepreneurs who are actively trying to be rich.
7. I can live on very little
I get the sense that the author is in his early 20′s. I lived on very little in my 20′s to. We were called slackers then. Slumming it was kind of a badge of honor. Trust me it gets old real quick when you are in your 30′s. By the time you are in your 40′s you will be regretting not making a little more money to sock into savings. Think it gets easier, go visit a rich 80 year old, and an 80 year old that lives primarily off social security. See how “happy” they are to live on very little.
8. Personal finance is very personal
WTF does this even mean? Is that a reason?
9. Money is over-rated
Now I KNOW that the author is in his early 20′s. Society tells him that consumerism is important but he is not going to buy into it! Damn the Man! Save the Empire!
10. I have enough already
No you don’t. I mean, you probably have more crap than you need for sure, but your car is gonna break down, your computer is going to be obsolete 20 seconds after you buy it, your clothes wear out, and let’s be honest here, you are going to be accumulating more crap. Of course you could buy clothes, cars, and computers that won’t wear out so fast but that would take money.
Add to that the concerns about economic security, providing for loved ones, giving back to community, and all other good things – you don’t “have enough already”.
My point is not that you should sell out your dreams for whatever makes you the most money, or that you should let it obsess your every waking moment. My point is simply this: unless you are a TRUE renunciate, a monk or nun or homeless yogi, money is in your life. Choosing to actively make less of it will not do anything good for you.
If you don’t want to become obsessed with money, you should make sure you have enough to be financially secure.
If you want to have freedom and time that often means making more money, not less.
If you want to do good works in your community, money can be a huge help.
If you think that money has been handles irresponsibly by the masters of the world, you have a responsibility to get into the game and handle your share in a way that is in accord with your spirit.
Actively choosing not to be rich is just dumb.