It’s Not About the Money (Not Really)

We’ve oftentimes been told not to worry about the money. They’ve told us time and time again that we should do what we love and the money will follow. Well, I’ve got a bit of a newsflash for all the burlap sack enthusiasts in the audience; the money will not follow unless you go out there and get it yourself. And let’s all be perfectly honest with one another: we’d all like to have more money, right?

If your job paid you absolutely zero dollars and zero cents, you probably wouldn’t be all that motivated to keep working that job even if it’s something you really enjoy doing. There are bills to be paid, food that needs to be put on the table, and roofs that need to be kept over your family members’ heads. Money is necessary. But it’s not about the money. Not really.

One of my favorite posts that I’ve written on this site explored this in the context of the dot com lifestyle and making money online. It echoed a sentiment that John has asserted time and time again here too. The best part of the dot com lifestyle is not the money itself. Instead, it’s the time and location freedom that the lifestyle affords you.

Another thing that I’ve asserted time and time again here and elsewhere is that inspiration can come from practically anywhere. That’s one of the ways that you can work when you’re not working, as counterintuitive as that may sound. That’s also why some of the most successful people in the world read a lot of books, both for business and for pleasure.

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I recently finished reading “Vacationland” by John Hodgman. You might know him as the “I’m a PC” guy from the Apple commercials or as the “deranged millionaire” on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The book is partly a memoir, intermingled with some unique observations and lessons gleaned from his personal experience. And this involves his experience with money.

While he never really had to worry about going hungry or homeless, it wasn’t until Hodgman came into some wealth that he really got to understand the power of money. In his book, he writes:

This country is founded on some very noble ideals but also some very big lies. One is that everyone has a fair chance at success. Another is that rich people have to be smart and hardworking or else they wouldn’t be rich. Another is that if you’re not rich, don’t worry about it, because rich people aren’t really happy. I am the white male living proof that all of that is garbage.

There are plenty of rich people out there who don’t “deserve” to be rich. They got lucky or they were born into wealth or any number of other possibilities. And there are plenty of smart and hardworking people who never get their “big break” and are left leading an existence on the brink of poverty. But is it really about the money, then? Is that all it takes to be happy?

Hodgman continues:

The vast degree to which my mental health improved once I had the smallest measure of economic security immediately unmasked this shameful fiction to me. Money cannot buy happiness, but it buys the conditions for happiness: time, occasional freedom from constant worry, a moment of breath to plan for the future, and the ability to be generous.

Money, in and of itself, won’t make you happy. You could be a billionaire and still suffer from horrible bouts of depression. However, when you reach a certain threshold, it sure makes it a lot easier to be happy. If you’re not worrying about paying your looming bills, it’s easier to be happy. If you have more free time to explore your interests and hobbies, rather than being saddled with the responsibility of keeping the ship afloat, you have an easier shot at being happy.

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And almost as counter-intuitive as it sounds, spending your money on other people makes you happier than when you spend that money on yourself. It’s awfully hard to do that when you don’t have enough to feed yourself, right?

So really, this all boils down to the same thing we’ve been saying all along. It’s not about the money. But that money can create the circumstances that allow for greater time and location freedom, as well as the creative freedom to do what you want, when you want, in whatever manner you want. And that’s what the dot com lifestyle can grant you if you’re willing to work for it.

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