More Money More Problems, Episode 361

by | Nov 22, 2023 | Videos

Do you need more money to be happy?  The “slam dunk” answer is “of course!”
But is that really the answer?
In episode #361, Tom discusses the results of a recent survey conducted by Empower.

Sadly, we have learned more people search “how to be happy” on Google far, far more than search for “how to be rich.”  
That’s a sad commentary on life in these United States in 2023.

The survey found that most people would “feel happy” – IF they had just a little more salary, most of their problems would disappear.

For example, folks making $65,000 felt if their salary was $95,000, they would be happy.
Interesting, people making $250,000 felt IF they were making $350,000, they would be happy.

For the record, that is not “just a little more money,” that is FORTY percent more money!
In fact, 70% of ALL survey respondents agreed with the statement, “Having more money would solve most of my problems.”

The reality is the actual number (salary) won’t bring happiness.  In this day and age, we all seem to want more, no matter what number or amount we earn.  When we were preparing for this episode, we were reminded of the quote from Abraham Lincoln, “people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” 

The answer might not come with having (or earning) more money.

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Transcript for “More Money, More Problems, Episode #361”

More money solves more problems right?

Making more money solves more problems… right?

That seems to be the “American way.”

It’s interesting – and we’ll share this in the show notes – Empower, a company that manages a lot of retirement plans for employees around the country, recently did a survey.

The upshot of all of this is that people feel, in general, they need more money – just to make ends meet. Or, they would be – if they had more money.

That kind of seems like a “slam dunk” when you say it that way.

But let’s dig into some of the results from the survey.

Folks who responded to the survey – and had a median salary of $65,000 said they felt they “would be happier” IF they had a median salary of about $95,000.

What’s interesting is folks who responded to the survey and had a median salary of $250,000 – way more than the first group – said they would feel happy if they had an annual salary of $350,000.

Quick point to make here: both of those levels are about 40% higher than what folks were currently earning.

It just seems like “when we start making money, it’s never enough.”
We need to have more money, to feel happy.

We could do fifteen more videos on “money and happiness,” but let’s stick to the survey.

It’s very interesting to point out 70% of the respondents said they agreed with the statement that “having more money would solve MOST of our problems.”
I don’t necessarily agree with that.

I think it was Biggie Smalls who had that song “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”

I would change the title to just say “more money, DIFFERENT problems.”

Because when you start to make more money, the money problems that you had when you were making less, seem to diminish in value.

Really what happens is when you start to make more money, you’re trading “one set of circumstances – for another set of circumstances.”
Your problems aren’t going to go away just by making more money.

So what do you do?

Really, it comes down to basic stuff. But it’s things that people seem to forget – or let slide by – in their quest to make more money.

You have to have an emergency fund, is number one.

The first thing we tell people is “if you’re in a hole, especially because of debt, if you’re in a hole – stop digging.”
That’s number one.

Stop spending money. Let’s find out where the money is getting spent. And (let’s together) try and be a little smarter about this.

And start today – not next week – not next month. Start today on finding a way to put a few bucks away into some kind of emergency fund, or reserve account – untouched, stashed away from all the other money that you use in your, we’ll call it a “monthly operating account.”

I will tell you from experience – personally and seeing it with folks we work with – having a bit of money in the bank, stashed away for an emergency – makes a lot of these smaller problems go away. And you’ll be making better decisions about:
– “hey I want to wait”
– “I want to put this off”
– “No, I want to do this today”

…when you have a couple of bucks in the bank.

When don’t have that emergency fund, you’re walking a tightrope – without any kind of net below you. Please don’t do that.

Another thing we talk about, all the time are big ticket items.

It seems to be the “American way” – everyone just decides spur of the – I shouldn’t say everyone – but a lot of people decide – spur of the moment – “hey we’re gonna go to Disney. We’re gonna put the whole thing on a credit card. And we’ll just hash out the details later.”

Please, with a little bit of planning, you could be smarter about this.

If you’ve got a big ticket item, it could be a trip – it could be a new roof – it could be be something you want to be proactive about and you don’t need to do immediately.

If there’s a way you can start planning today and put say $200 bucks away. That’s $50 a week.
If you put $200 bucks away – in a year you’ve got $2,400 banked.

If you’re taking the family to Disney – that could be your airfare.

You have to be smart about it. It may not pay for the entire trip. But it could go a long long way. And reduce the amount of pain you’re going to have after you come back from the trip and have to start paying the bills.

Older viewers may remember how banks used to have a “Christmas Club” account.
You’d put $5 or $10 or something – away on weekly basis. And then come November, you had money to shop for Christmas gifts.

It’s kinda the same way. I know there are folks out there who will say “hey but I’m going to get points on my credit cards!” I don’t know.

I just don’t like the whole idea of having debt and paying interest on things – especially trips, if you can avoid it.

Now suppose you’re just about done paying for that car. And you’re paying $500 bucks a month.

When you’re done paying for the car — the next month, what you should do afterwards — is write the very same check out. But put it in a separate bank account for yourself.

Call it a “car account.” Put that money away $500 bucks – do it every month. Continue to make that car payment — it’s already IN your budget.

A year from now you have $6,000 – sitting there, staring you in the face.
Two years from now you’re going to have $12,000. That could be – if you’re buying a used car – that may be almost all the purchase price?
That may be a significant down payment on another new car.

This will help you, financially, in the future.

So look, making MORE money may not necessarily bring you long-term happiness.
But learning how to “spend properly” and how to “save properly” – will probably put you on a better path.

And that’s the message for episode 361. Thanks for tuning in!

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