Financial Priorities: Should You Earn More Or Spend Less?


Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.


Stocks

Ivan here. 

This dude makes $600,000 gross salary with $2M in assets, but the prospect of a market correction “scares the shit out of me.” 

 
I wish I could just sit back and enjoy being the top 1 percent, but not a day goes by without me worrying about something bad happening to my family, my job, my savings, or my country.
— Mr. Anonymous, The Billfold
 

I’m not trying to single out Mr. Anonymous here or judge him. This is simply his experience and what he feels. 

But it does raise some interesting questions: if this guy still worries about his financial future, where does it leave the rest of us? If a $600,000 salary can’t buy you security and a life free from worry, then what number is sufficient? Will any number ever be “enough”?

At some point in his career, Mr. Anonymous was part of the bottom 99%. Back then, he probably never imagined that he'd become this guy.  But I guess in his hunt for more, he never arrived at a point where he felt like he’d “made it.” Or if he did, it was a feeling that never lasted. 

The thing about want is that you always find yourself wanting. 


When Is It Okay to Stop Worrying About the Future

and Start Living in the Moment?


I happen to know that Mr. Anonymous isn’t an isolated case. 

I know this because I attended a private high school in Taipei, a school that educated the children of some of the wealthiest and most privileged families in Taiwan. 

And I know for a fact that the richer you are, the more you feel you have to lose, so you never stop worrying. Ever. A lot of these families are frickin’ miserable. I’d go so far as to say that the level of misery among the top 1% is probably higher than the rest of the population. 

Which leads me to ask: If that’s what rich is, what’s the point? 


What We Sacrifice Chasing a Future That Never Arrives


money
  1. Time spent worrying about money 
  2. Time away from family and friends
  3. Time spent commuting
  4. Years (or decades) working jobs we actively hate in order to “retire” or “retire early” 
  5. Time spent recovering in the evenings and on weekends from said job
  6. Time spent reacting to whichever meaningless task pops up first
  7. Time spent chasing the “next” thing and not being present in our own lives

A Rhetorical Question:

Should I Prioritize Earning More or Spending Less?


There are only two paths to financial freedom: 

  1. Earn more
    OR
  2. Want less

Frugality gets a bad rep because change is painful, but if “earning more”, above and beyond our most essential priorities means that we’ll never feel secure again - then what other option do we have left?