Three big money lessons I learned this year

3 big money lessons I learned this year

I’ve been back in full-time employment for a whole year now, and I’ve been thinking about the place work occupies in my life.

I do not want my life to revolve entirely around work … but that said, I would much rather focus on work than the domestic front. Paid work can be frustrating (and a whole bunch of other adjectives) but I find it so much more personally fulfilling than doing household type work.

If money were no object, I would literally never cook or clean. I would pay to have all that done. Not because I think my time is super valuable, but because I simply don’t enjoy those tasks and I am not very good at them. Eating good food made by others = one of my biggest joys.

On a macro level, here’s what else I’ve been contemplating, more  generally.

Your pay does not always reflect your worth

It’s common sense, and we all know this. You are more than your paycheck. But this REALLY hit home for me this year, having moved out of a field that is notorious for underpaying and overworking.

It seems crazy to me that people like the Starbucks barista profiled by the NY Times work so hard and get paid so much less than I do. Or that some construction foremen can earn less than me when that is objectively a much harder and more important job. And don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly rolling in it; I’m only now making the equivalent of a starting salary in many other fields. Yes, sometimes it’s because the higher-paying role genuinely creates more value/ROI for the business – but not always.

There is a LOT of money floating around out there

I have written about countless funded startups and interviewed both investors and entrepreneurs. T has sold stuff to people with (in my humble opinion) way too much money.

It’s clear to me that there is money to be made – if you can tap into it. That means getting into the right industries in the right kinds of roles.

Money affords happiness

There’s no such thing as ‘broke yet happy’ in my world. Never has been, never will be.

I earn more now. That reduces my stress levels. It enables me to live a more enjoyable life.

I hate scrimping. Don’t get me wrong, I am really frugal by nature, and I suppose that’s why I hate to have to cut back beyond that.

For years I thought T would outearn me – but that’s not how life has worked out.

Strangely enough, an unexpected benefit of what I do these days is that the things I struggled with previously – the external/outward facing stuff, coming up with story ideas – aren’t factors anymore. And for the first time I feel like I have the means to support (financially speaking)  the creative things I love – bands, publications.

New Zealand can offer a great lifestyle, but it’s not a cheap place to live, particularly in Auckland. If I have the opportunity to earn more to fund a better life, then that’s not a route I’m going to turn my nose up at.

Also: at some point, I would like to work someplace that pays bonuses. Just to see what it’s like.

17 thoughts on “Three big money lessons I learned this year

  • Reply Jessie @ Just Jessie December 10, 2014 at 04:12

    Money is a constant stress in my life. I work two jobs to help make things easier, but then I just get stressed from working too much! I can’t imagine living in NZ and the prices there. I always wanted to move to California, but I just can’t imagine how expensive it would be. Oh, and I used to receive bonuses at my last job which was awesome, but I hated the job so much that it wasn’t worth it for me. Unfortunately this new job doesn’t have bonuses and the pay isn’t super great, but it’s more enjoyable!

  • Reply Newlyweds on a Budget December 10, 2014 at 09:00

    “I earn more now. That reduces my stress levels. It enables me to live a more enjoyable life.”

    YES. So true. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure does help and make life easier.

  • Reply Karen December 10, 2014 at 13:43

    It’s ridiculous how much money people have made from creating apps, websites, online businesses, etc. I wish I had that creative entrepreneurship.

    I, too, HATE cooking and cleaning, even though my fiance has told me I am somewhat decent at the former. Not only would I pay someone to do the cooking and cleaning, I would also pay someone to do the grocery shopping because I hate that too.

  • Reply Sense December 10, 2014 at 17:33

    Money makes happiness possible–that is how I think of it. If you’re struggling and worrying and watching every penny, I don’t see how your continuous, baseline happiness level could be very high…

    If I could, I’d outsource everything to do with food (except for a few instances of baking), cleaning, and laundry, like you. Also ERRANDS. I hate errands. The bane of my existence used to be having to return rental videos on time. Thank goodness for the internet.

    • Reply eemusings December 10, 2014 at 19:02

      Money buys happiness. I stand by this 100 percent. Call me mercenary, that’s my truth.

      I hate to think how much we used to spend on late video return fees.

  • Reply Funny about Money December 10, 2014 at 22:19

    Yup. Money isn’t everything, but it beats whatever’s in second place.

    On the other hand, over the years I’ve found there’s a limit to how much money you need to make you happy. Life’s to short to spend it all in pursuit of the almighty dollar (or whatever your unit of currency).

  • Reply save. spend. splurge. December 10, 2014 at 22:52

    I like cooking but not the cleanup afterwards. I just like eating good food but I can survive on very simple fare (raw fish, rice..)

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank December 11, 2014 at 00:18

    Money is somehow related to happiness. Money let us make good and happy experience that we can treasure. Money let us travel to other countries and have more bondings with family and friends.

  • Reply Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 11, 2014 at 04:13

    I would like to get to a certain amount where I wasn’t concerned about my income living here. It does ease so much stress when money is coming in regularly. It doesn’t have to be a fortune, but way more than I made this year. 🙁

  • Reply Melanie @ Dear Debt December 11, 2014 at 08:04

    Love this! I do think making more money makes me stress less, and in turn makes me happier. I love cleaning, but I would totally never cook again if I didn’t have to. I also LOVE enjoying nice meals. I love your writing, it always gives me a sense of deep reflection and whimsy.

  • Reply Sally December 11, 2014 at 10:37

    I really like the second point, it’s so true and I have to remind myself that so I can stay motivated. I like housework, but I would still hire help at some level of income, so that it never felt like I was overwhelmed with always cleaning.

  • Reply Kellen December 12, 2014 at 03:30

    Money definitely helps make happiness achievable–it also helps if you know how to use your money well though–i.e. not blowing it on something you won’t use much later.

  • Reply Revanche December 12, 2014 at 12:17

    Having been broke, pfffff. There’s nothing romantic or better about it at all, nooo thanks.

    We keep talking about hiring help around the house but I rarely take the time to make room for it in the budget – it is clearly not a high enough priority for me. As it turns out, neither is avoiding cooking, for the moment. It’s relaxing, when and while I can, but we’ll be turning to take-out to help during crunch time as necessary.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve come around to the notion that while I was ok with work being mostly my life for a decade, I’m not in that brainspace anymore. Not specifically because of LB but that did push me a little further towards wanting something different. Not necessarily more but to be more invested in other things that aren’t working for a wage.

  • Reply Suburban Finance December 13, 2014 at 00:46

    “Eating good food made by others = one of my biggest joys.”
    I think the same way too! My partner is the opposite — he thinks food is ‘only’ something you eat to survive day by day, the cheaper it is the better.
    I agree that money actually brings happiness. I’m not really into material stuff, but I like traveling and you need money for that. Money can help you ‘buy’ experience so that you can enjoy your life more.

  • Reply Charlie December 14, 2014 at 03:39

    What is your work? If you don’t mind my asking. Would be interested to hear about it 🙂

    My partner and I both work as freelance writers online for 4 hours per day. Then once we’ve finished work in the morning, we go and only spend as much as we just earned. It’s enough for our travels, but not for any luxuries. We like it well enough though 🙂

  • Reply Ciana December 14, 2014 at 23:47

    Well said. =)

    I took this course in college (partly because I figured that it was an advantage for my university degree) and the lecturer mentioned once that although the citizens are holding a job (= also known as the working poor), they are not earning enough to support themselves financially. I thought that the Starbucks baristas are now better paid than barristers? Or, at least that was what I deduced from this online article I read earlier.

    And yes, NZ is not a cheap place to live in. =(

  • Reply Shiva December 16, 2015 at 15:44

    I think an important note to also make is that with wealth, we will be able to take care of our health better. We will be able to afford better treatments for us and our family, ensuring a healthy and long life.

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