"More income would solve everything, right?

By James Reynolds

Click below to listen to James and Jen chat about the blog

I don't quite know where to start writing about this topic. And I’ve been sitting here for about 10 minutes with my pen above my pad, ready to go. So, I’ll start with where I’m at. I’m sitting on a train heading from Noosa to Byron Bay (via Bris and Gold Coast).

“What are you going to write about?” a lady asks me.

I look up at the couple sitting across from me, and take them in. They’ve got to be in their 60’s, with kind, curious faces. “Good question,” as I stall for time wondering whether I get them involved.

“I’m going to write about how even when we have enough money, it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Specifically, though, we can have a great income (especially as a couple) and still feel stressed.”

I pause and wait to see if they’re up for the chat. They both nod their head, seeming to know exactly what I mean.


When I think of conversations we have with clients we’ve started working with, they often want to work towards a “magic” income number – a number where life will be good. No money woes and all their needs and wants paid for. Once they get to that number, they’ll be happy. In theory, it makes sense. If I have more income than I have now, then surely I’ll be able to do all the things I’m not doing at the moment.

However.

We’ve worked with couples that earn $150,000 per year, $500,000 per year, even $750,000 per year and guess what? When we met them, they were worried about their money. Let that sink in for a second. It’s common for people earning that level of income to be less than happy about their money.

Here’s a couple of question for you.

 

When I worry about money, is it because of how much I earn?

 

or

 

When I worry about money, is it because of how I’m managing my money?

 

then

 

What is it that actually bothers me about my money?

 

  • Each paycheque, I don’t have enough money/there’s too many bills
  • I can’t get ahead
  • I should be in a better position
  • Everyone else has their money “sorted”
  • Money controls my life
  • I think about my money all the time
  • I’m doing what other people told me to do, but I still don’t feel good
  • I feel stuck in my money situatio

 

What does your partner think? Is it the same things? Or different?

 

Like it or not, additional income won’t make these things go away (https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2016/01/winning-the-lottery-wont-solve-your-problems/). It’s very possible that this is why people who win the lotto, have a 70% to 90% chance of losing it all within 5 years (surely it would be a pretty damn good 5 years, right?). Interestingly, a lotto winner’s happiness compared to a non-lotto winner’s happiness, is only different for a few months then there’s no difference. Wild huh?


The older couple sitting across from me gave off a sense of ease. The feeling that they weren’t in a rush, that life for them had slowed down nicely. As if they had earned this time in their lives, and they were now relaxing and enjoying every moment of it. It’s debatable whether their generation had it simpler, but I believe they made it simpler for themselves.

“Did you parents have money “rules” when you were growing up, that you’ve continued to do?” I asked. I got a resounding “yes, of course” “oh sure” back from them. They were more than happy to rattle them off for me:

  • Know what you’re working towards.
  • Spend less than you earn.
  • Know where your money goes before you get it.
  • Look after what you’ve got.
  • Set aside money for a rainy day (because it will rain one day).
  • If you haven’t got the money, don’t buy it. Put things on layby or save up.
  • When you do buy things, make sure it’s good quality (importantly long lasting).
  • If you borrow money, use credit or a loan, use it for something that will hold or add value.
  • Work towards replacing your income, with income from assets. Over time, it’ll replace work income.

In a sense, it’s a money philosophy. A way of thinking, a guide for your money. Something that you can rely on to help you make decisions, and hopefully make things easier as “life” happens.

So, here’s some more questions.

 

What’s your money philosophy?

 

Because you’ve got one, even if you don’t know you do. Just take a look at your money decisions over the last couple of years to work out what it is. When you made them, were you guided by how you want your life to feel today, but also in the future?

 

What do you want your money philosophy to be?

 

All of your decisions have gotten you to where you are now, but where do you want to be in the future? No doubt, not worrying about money.

We were talking to a client last week, and helping her look at some big money decisions, guiding her through a conversation that touched on some of her money philosophy. After a back and forth conversation discussing the pros and cons, the question that made her pause and really think about what she wanted was this:

 

What would your future self want you to do?

 

It’s now late afternoon, and I’ve made it to Byron Bay. I’m off for a drink or two before Dry July kicks off at midnight.


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Got a topic you'd like us to write about? Got a question for us? Get in touch at james@totemwealth.com.au

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