Most people I know want to be rich. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this goal, and I can certainly see why many people would want to attain it. I think that’s why people find it a little shocking when I tell them that I have no desire to become rich. In fact, I have made a conscious choice not to become rich and I’m happy with my decision.
Why the hell would anyone purposely choose not to be rich? It seems like such an antithesis of everything it means to be an American, but I stand by my choice. In all reality, it was an easy one to make. Whether others agree or disagree with it is a matter of opinion, but I have sound reasons why the choice I’ve made is right for me. Although my reasoning might not ultimately mean the same is true for you, I hope that reading why I have purposely chosen not to become rich might give you some good food for thought.
It’s important to make clear that in choosing not to be rich, I have not chosen to be poor. If I felt that I couldn’t do the things that matter to me most, I would certainly find a way to increase my income. It simply means that I have chosen to forego a growing bank account for things that I feel are more important than more money. Here are some of the reason that I have chosen not to be rich.
I value time more than money
I value my time much more than I value the money I can make with my time. In other words, it makes little sense for me to spend time making more money than I need to. I value the time to do the things I want to do much more than I could earn if I spent that time making more money. Sine I value the time much more, as long as I have enough money to do those things, my time is more valuable than the money I could earn.
What I do is more important than what I have
I love what I do. It might not pay a lot of money, but it pays enough for me to do the things I want to do. I could probably make a lot more money if I spent my time doing something else that pays more, but doing what I like is much more important to me than the amount I make. I have no problem sacrificing the purchase of “things” since there are very few things that I need to be able to do what I truly enjoy doing. Having made the choice that free time is more valuable to me than money, it means that I won’t be rich. I have no problem with that.
I value experiences over things
I don’t own a lot of stuff. It’s not that I can’t afford it, but simply because it’s not something that appeals to me all that much. I value the experience of spending time with friends and family, as well as traveling and exploring new places far more than anything I could buy. While money is certainly important as a tool to be able to do many of the experiences I enjoy, the truth is that they tend to be far less expensive than buying things. This means that I can do the things that I want to do most for far less than most people need to buy the things that they want.
More money won’t make me happier
I make enough money to do the things that make me happiest. If I made more money, I might be able to do more things than I do now (although that would be at a cost of lost time doing other things), but I know that it wouldn’t make me any happier than I am now. I 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. Once these basics are met, it’s not how much more money you have, but your attitude which determines you happiness. I earn enough to meet all my basic needs and I know that being rich wouldn’t make me any happier.
Money is a tool, not a score
While some people look at the amount of money they have as a score to compare against others, I have never felt the need to do that. That’s not to say that people who have earned a lot of money aren’t impressive. They are because it takes a lot of time and effort to make a lot of money, just as it takes a lot of time and effort to become a quality artist or to gain a mastery of any other skill. These are all impressive in their own right. For me, however, money is simply a tool to be used to do the things I enjoy most. Since it’s merely a tool, there is no need for me to have more of it than I need to accomplish the things that I want to do. Now, I would certainly take more of it if offered to me, but since I value my time (as mentioned above) far more than I do the money itself, it’s not worth my time to earn more than I have to.
I value my freedom
Another reason that I have chosen not to be rich is that I value my freedom. I like to be able to do what I want without needing to discuss with anyone else those decisions. 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.
I can live on very little
Over the years, I have done a number of challenges where I wasn’t allowed to spend a lot of money. What I discovered was that even with very little money, if I could creatively figure out ways to meet my needs, I was perfectly happy. These taught me that the money, beyond meeting my basic needs, wasn’t a necessary factor for me as so many people seem to think that it is for them. I have simply learned over time that I really don’t need a lot of money to do the things that are most important to me.
Personal finance is personal
I learned long ago that when it comes to finances, it really does come down to personal choices. I don’t own a house even though I could afford to buy one because I would much rather travel to see friends and family on a regular basis while also traveling to see national parks than to sit in a home-office everyday to do my work on the computer. It’s not a decision that everyone would make, but it’s a decision that makes financial sense for me. In the same way, choosing not to be rich because I would rather spend my time doing other things than make money is the financially smart move for me.
Most give far too much credit to money
My personal opinion is that society as a whole places far too much importance on money as a whole. This makes perfect sense since the society in large part is based on consumerism. If consumerism is the ultimate goal, then being rich is important. But just because that’s what society says is important, that doesn’t necessarily make it so. Consumerism is only important if that is what you feel is important. I don’t. And since I don’t, money (and being rich) have far less value to me than it would to someone who buys into the consumerism society.
I have enough
What it all comes down to is that I have enough. In fact, I have more than enough to do the things I enjoy doing most. Given the choice of spending more time earning money when I already have enough money to do the things I love to do, I would much rather spend that time doing those things that I love. This seems pretty simple and logical to me, but I know there are a lot of people who seem to disagree. They believe that if I have the opportunity to earn more, I should, even if that means spending more time doing it. I disagree with them.
So the question becomes, could I become rich while still retaining all of the reasons that I don’t feel the need to be rich. I think the answer is yes. While it certainly isn’t an active goal of mine, there are definitely examples where people’s passions (the things they would have done anyway without any pay) have turned into a lot of money, and maybe mine will as well. That being said, however, I’ll still be just as happy if it doesn’t happen.
(Photo courtesy of Gio-S.p.o.t.s.)