How much money do you need to feel free?
Freedom waits where you stop thinking about money
What is your earliest memory relating to money?
I remember my first grocery shopping adventures when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Keep in mind these were different times and I lived in a village where you’d know most of the people around.
On Saturdays, I would get out with 1 GDR Mark and take my tiny red bike to the HO (a GDR supermarket). I’d go to the box where the bread rolls were stored and got out 20 bread rolls. This was the amount you could buy with 1 Mark as each of them would cost 5 Pfennig (pence). Having the fresh bread roll smell still in my nose I’d pay the lady at the cashier in her white coat with my Mark and off I was to bring them home.
Man, I was proud of myself that I could do this on my own.
So my earliest money-related memory is positive. However, there’s of course a lot of different experiences that formed how I view money today:
- Being able to save money and buy gifts for birthdays of the family
- Getting a weekly allowance and receiving bigger amounts for Christmas, my birthday or at the end of the school each half-year
- Working jobs next to school and university
- Not being able to afford something because it was too expensive
- Buying my first own computer after saving for a while
- Getting over my ego to ask for some extra money to make all the bills paid when I first moved out
- The feeling of not being worried about money
- Understanding that money is a means to allow to afford experiences rather than buying stuff
Money is a weird topic. A lot of people don’t like to talk about it. They might fear judgment from others or secretly envy those who seem to be well off. There are hate and conspiracy stories towards popular openly wealthy people (Hello to Bill Gates and the like!). There is a big preconception that money is scarce, that if one person has it, another cannot have it. On the other hand, there is the idea that money might be the solution to one’s problems and makes you happier.
And sure, if there is too little money it becomes a source of stress and anxiety. We depend on being able to pay for shelter and food at least.
But do we know how much money we really need?
At which point do we feel free?
As one might expect, researchers ventured out to find out more on the topic. Their research revealed that on average $60–75,000 per year result in optimal emotional wellbeing when it comes to finances. Those who earn more than show a decline in happiness because having more money can lead to unfulfilling material pursuits.
I guess the exact point where each and everyone’s ideal Financial Wellness peaks might slightly differ. Do you know where yours is?
For me, it lies at a point in which money doesn’t play a big role in my everyday life. It means I can go to a nice restaurant without hesitation. It’s actually the point in which I neither worry too much about money nor am I overly excited about having it.
At that point, I am actually free.
If you want to get closer to a balanced relationship with money and better understand where your ideal point of feeling financially free is, start with asking yourself the following questions:
- How does money make me feel?
- Which of my experiences relating to money are positive and/or negative? How do these affect my relationship with money today?
- What is a priority in my life?
- What do I really need and how is that different from what I want?
- How does my relationship with money hinder me to feel free? How could my relationship with money help me to feel free?