I remembered what I wanted to post about now.
Recently, my co-worker was telling me she was reading about how money does not mean happiness. Money is a touchy subject for me and in general it’s not something I’d talk about with just anyone. My Dark Side experience with money gives me fantastic insight to this truth, as well as my mom’s side. The dark side are all well off, having become quite successful in their lives, coming to everything from nothing. That is to be lauded, but their mentality is that of the nouveau riche and their old non-rich upbringing: constant need to flaunt their rich status, buying up all symbols of wealth to show off, straight up showing off through words/actions. It’s irritating. My mom’s side back in the “old country” were born rich. They had the chauffeurs, the servants, and private schooling. However, when they fled to the US, it was all reduced to nothing. Literally. They went from servants and the finest clothes to scrubbing toilets and working all hours to fight for the survival of their family. My mom’s siblings are now very well off with ambitious jobs and living in the upper echelons of society. Also to be lauded, btw. But they don’t act like the nouveau riche, they just ARE rich: they don’t flaunt things, they send their kids to nice schools, their clothes are very good quality, but they don’t talk about designer bags or labels, they drive nice cars but they aren’t obviously so, they look for deals to save money wherever they can. Their kids are well provided for, and it might be unfair for someone like me who sits right in the middle of the economic classes with no real desire to rise from it, but in the end it is what it is and I turned out a decent person. The patient population in my dental office is also of the higher economic classes…considering all the houses around it are $1 million and up.
All of this affords me a unique look at life in any of these levels. As a pattern, the ” truer rich” people share a common feature in that they actually are quite frugal while the “new to richness” people tend to spend indiscriminately because they can. These $1 million houses are in fact quite small and old in comparison to relatively cheaper homes. You may ask now how I am even able to comment on the poorer side of this considering my “rich” ties. Well. My immediately family also rose from the aches so to speak. From nothing to decent living. Ended up in an upscale neighborhood from pretty much the suburban ghetto but only realized later in life that we weren’t poor at all. In fact my dad is very well off. Makes me really mad because we weren’t allowed to do anything at all but all along we were more than capable of having a better life with more experiences to pull on. I guess it doesn’t matter, though, because anything with him is/was just a terrible experience, but it’s infuriating always thinking we were poor as dirt (think of broken appliances that we were “too poor” to fix, and 10 run down cars that were never maintained because of “status”) and then uncovering the dirty and cheating schemes he always pulled in order to “save money” or get the “best deal” at the expense of others. The end justifies the means right? The danger that never really befell us in those cars but was right around the corner.
Having read my magazine on the “Science of Happiness” and just observations throughout my life and experiences with people, I have concluded that all I want is to stay basically where I am. Think about it: people spend up to their means, right? Say you make $50,000 a year. You buy a house and a car around that budget. Now say you make $100,000 a year. You will also spend up to that budget with a car and a house. What’s the difference then? The same percentage of expense is being met from both sides.
Studies on happiness puts the “happiest income” at around $70,000-80,000ish (I gave my magazine to my friend). For me, I buy a decent home, not too big and not too small (bigger = more maintenance, more cleaning, more heating, more cooling. We lived in big houses. I know. Smaller = not enough room for guests, my things, feelings of too little privacy….college…?), I buy a decent car (more expensive = higher taxes, higher maintenance cost, special brands is even more cost and inconvenience, too cheap = leaves things to be desired, overall less content, less space), now I’ve fallen in the mid-range where I have what I need and have ample left over for a buffer pad and for things that truly will make me happy. What are those things that are proven to make people happy? Definitely not things. They’re experiences. Vacations are what really make people happy. Repeated research results on that one. For me it’s dogs. Flowers. Yard work. Video games. Conventions. DIY stuff. Time.
Everyone at every income level experiences stress and financial trouble. Even if you make $200,000, if you’re spending all of that like water and saving nothing, you might as well be making $30,000 a year…except for the moment you’re “enjoying” it until it all implodes on you.
Haha I always sound like I’m settling in my life and not shooting for more, but for me I realized long ago (thank you grade school English classes) that all I want in life is to be happy. We might only live once so I don’t want to spend it stressed out and chasing an impossible goal until I die. Not to take work home, be able to spend time with my loved ones, experience little excitements, not forget about the clouds passing above me or the miracles and beauty of what I call life.