by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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I am sure you have heard the opposite, and if you are a Christian who reads the Bible, you may have been left with the impression that money is the root of all evil.  The correct translation, according to some scholars is more along the lines of “coveting money is the root of all evil”.  This would be a better way to look at it, because if you desire money above all else, then you are willing to do anything necessary to obtain it.  This is where the evil part comes into play.

For most people, your view of money directly affects how much money you end up having.  If you are someone who thinks that rich people are bad or that too much money will change who you are, it is likely that you and money will avoid one another.  If you are someone who views money in the opposite manner, and you wish to attract more money into your life, it is far more likely that “finding” money will happen.  This can be through a higher paying job opportunity or maybe a side hustle that takes off.  The Universe will give you what you ask for, provided that A. it is a reasonable request and B. that you deserve it.  By reasonable, I mean that you cannot wish to find a suitcase with a million dollars of unmarked bills in it and think that will happen.  I know, I have tried.  But if you ask for the “right things”, the Universe will deliver in many ways.

So, does money buy happiness?  Well, that is a matter of perspective.  Here is how I look at things:

–More money in my bank account means I can help more people.  Family, friends and charity alike.

–More money means that I have more freedom to do things I’d like to do.  Travel, learn, try new things

–More money means that I can resolve issues and/or upgrade things to avoid issues.

Let’s go through these one by one.  I have some family members that have helped me financially in my life and I’d love to be able to pay back that favor.  I have already paid back the money, but I want to be able to assist them if needed.  Coming from a “financially humble” background, I didn’t understand just how money really worked, meaning how some people had so much more than others.  I was good at surrounding myself with people who had much more than others, but I never really asked a lot of questions on how to change my own lot in life.  My grandparents saved up a little money to help get me to college; it wasn’t much, but it was a help and it was a grand gesture looking back on it.  I wish I was in position to do the same for my sister’s kids, as I do not have kids of my own.  I am not there quite yet.

I have never donated more than $100 to a charity organization of any kind.  I donate blood, I donate time and I donate work/labor but I have not felt I reached the position to donate any real sum of money.  Yet.  I would like to, for the right organization, but I haven’t reached a level of financial comfort of my own to do this just yet.  This is very subjective of course, as my household income is far higher than at any other point in my life.  But I would not say that I have “excess” cash on hand and therefore I hold the reigns tighter, for now.

Money doesn’t guarantee happiness, but with more money I have several freedoms that I have not before.  The freedom of not worrying about how to pay rent or my mortgage payment next month is a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.  I have been there, and lived teetering on the brink of a financial crisis for far too long.  Losing a job with no money in the bank and bills to pay within a few weeks is a scary thing, I can’t imagine how much worse it would be to have kids added into that equation.  At this point, I have about a year’s worth of time to replace a job if needed.  THAT is a level of financial security I have never achieved before, and I sleep much better at night because of it.  Many do not have that luxury, and I wish that others could get into that same position.

With more money, I can do more of the things that bring me happiness and joy.  I love to fly fish, but this isn’t the cheapest of hobbies.  I live in Phoenix, so I am relegated to at least a drive of 90 minutes one way to get to a place that I like to fish.  This means gas money as a minimum investment for that day’s excursion, and for some of my life this was a deciding factor.  Did I have enough money to fill up my gas tank in order to drive north to spend the day fishing?  There were days where the answer was no, and so I didn’t go.  Now I plan trips out of state and spend far more than a tank of gas.  But those memories are priceless, as my Dad and I and sometimes others as well have spent time together doing something we all love.  Since my dad is rapidly reaching the point where he will no longer be able to go on those kind of trips, those trips and that money spent was an even better investment in our time together.

My wife and I like to travel together, and we have gotten the chance to go to some really cool places so far and look forward to more adventures soon.  We have been to a tropical rainforest resort in Costa Rica as part of our honeymoon trip. We have been to San Francisco, Colorado Springs, Nashville and several other places that we have really enjoyed so far.  We have more trips planned for the not too distant future as well.  This type of freedom was not on my radar in prior parts of my life; my wife’s income gives us a lot of freedom that just one for the household would not.  Not having any recurring bills other than our mortgage is a big contributing factor to that level of freedom as well.

Another huge benefit of having money is that I have had the opportunity to purchase a vehicle outright for cash, and then pay for expenses for repairs and service in cash.  I used to rely on credit cards to bridge the gap between paydays, or worse, to finance things I could not pay for outright.  To be in that position fresh out of high school or college is one thing, but I was still doing it until about six or seven years ago until I got my finances straightened out.  I recently “dumped” a vehicle on short notice due to the fact that there were some significant repairs needed that were discovered during a routine maintenance check.  I had the cash on hand to trade in the vehicle for a new (to me) one, and put money down to lower the payment.  That vehicle will be paid off next year.  But instead of putting $10,000 into repairing a vehicle, I purchased a newer one that should not need any type of repairs in that price range.

My wife and I have done some upgrades and work on the house we live in for the same reasons.  We are avoiding larger costs later by being in the position to cover the costs now for upkeep and repairs while they are small.  We replaced a water heater before it leaked and did a bunch of damage to the house.  Maybe some of that would be covered by our home owner’s insurance, but you never know.  We upgraded the windows and doors from the crappy builder grade ones that were original to the house to better ones that lower our cooling costs in the summer.  This helps with saving money on a monthly basis to a small level.  We have fake grass in the back yard to reduce the water usage overall and save on the water bill in the long haul.  Little things like this add up in the long run, and by having money to allocate to things like this we help ourselves over time.

So in conclusion, does money buy happiness?  I think the answer is no, but with a huge asterisk.  Happiness is a state of mind; lots of millionaire are miserable and lots of people less well off financially are very happy and content with their lives.  But as I hopefully illustrated above, there are certainly benefits to having money on hand.  There is always a cost associated with money, for most it is as simple as can I balance work hard to make money without missing out on family events and soccer games and school plays.  There is a fine line that needs to be walked, but it can be done.  Find the right balance for yourself.  For me, without kids, I have more leeway than others.  I don’t have the concerns of certain things that others cannot avoid.  But either way, learn how money really works, how to make it work for you, and above all, learn how to attract it into your life.  That is the best starting point I can give you.  Get your money game right and your life will be much easier overall.

I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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