What amount of money would have changed your life?
I am not talking about a billion or a million dollars. I want specific amounts because there are things you want to pay or buy and you have price tags on all of that.
Of course, a billion would change everyone’s life but that is not what I am after.
A specific amount can go a long way.
I was thinking about this the other day, and if I went back in time, I could see that different amounts would have made a big difference.
When I was a kid, $20 was a lot of money. Like a lot. If I had $20 I felt rich, but if I had $100.. OMG I felt like a baller.
But for me, it would have really been $60,000.
As I got older, and graduated, I knew for a fact that $60,000 would change my life because it was the exact amount of money I owed in student debt. I thought that if I had that, I would start over from $0.
I could start from fresh, take what I learned to heart about not wasting my money and being more frugal, and I would have done better.
I have read articles that have stated that even a mere $500 can change people’s lives.
It pays for a bus pass for instance, so that they don’t have to take into consideration a job as being too far from where they live to be able to get to work if they have to walk.
$500 can cover someone’s payday loan they took out because they needed the money to stop their electricity from being cut off.
Sometimes, being in deb is not their fault.
Sometimes it is circumstances, of course, bad decisions that arose from a lack of knowledge (not to be confused with “smarts” as the two are very different), and even $500 could be a big amount to someone to change their lives for the better.
Now, I think if I had enough for retirement ($1 – $2 million) in cash aside from my house and car being paid (which by the way THEY ARE), it would change my life in that I would stop thinking about whether I am getting extended on a contract or not.
It would change my life in that sense but even if I didn’t have that money, I would be fine.
That money I am working towards saving would if it were given to me, would not change my life to the point where the impact of such a change, and the intensity of the amount would be that I would stop deciding between whether I get to eat this week or keep the roof over my head.
I think for people who are so money-focused as the small part of us are (let’s face it, there aren’t many personal finance (PF) geeks out there), it can sometimes feel very obvious to state things like:
Prioritize your spending and spend on what matters to you
Save aside 10% – 25% of your money for retirement because even a year makes a difference
Get out of debt as soon as you can if it is crushing your spirit (especially with high interest rates)
Invest your money, don’t let it sit in a savings account.
Etc, etc, etc…
I forget this sometimes because all of this is now second nature.
It is a part of me, how I live, and how I see my money. I cannot forget what I have learned, and I think that shows in my net worth how much I have profited and benefited from this knowledge.
If you’re stuck, sometimes it is best to start at the beginning. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Start budgeting, start tracking your money, and then go from there.
Baby steps lead to more learning, and before you know it, you’ll be saying phrases and facts, fully confident in what you are saying.
As for what amount of money would change your life – consider that as your new money goal.
If it is like me, retirement savings of a million or two, then that is what I should be (and am) working towards, without forgetting to also live while achieving those goals (e.g. shop, eat out, gifts to others, travel, etc).
Life isn’t just about reaching those money goals – it is also about enjoying and spending your money to live your life.
My partner is far more on the extreme of saving – a single-minded focus on retiring as soon as possible; and I am on the other extreme where I am spending a little more than I should be saving based on my money goals (or not? I feel like I am the type who will never retire fully..)
There is no need to swing into extremes of super saving and living on bread crusts, versus spending everything because you could get hit by a car tomorrow and what would all that saving have been for?
You can’t predict life, but you can follow a plan, a strategy and make sure that you aren’t giving up too much of one to achieve another.