I’m attempting to distill my thoughts about money into talking points for All the Money in the World publicity. In my maturation as an author last time around, I had a little light bulb go off: the vast majority of people who hear of your book are not going to read your book. In essence, your book becomes your talking points. This can be frustrating if you think the prose is one of the more attractive parts of the book, but I did become a little less obsessed with, say, a single sentence’s construction on p. 87.
I also thought, more, about writing the book with talking points in mind. Here goes:
1. Sweat the big stuff. For most people, the key to less financial stress is to spend less on their houses (and to a degree, cars) than the real estate calculators say you can. Sure, houses can be investments, but so are other things, like actual investments. Spending less on your house frees up space for all manner of small indulgences which do a lot to boost happiness. You can also do what we did and move to a cheaper state.
2. Don’t scrimp more, make more. Money is a tool. As such, having more of it enables you to do more things. High income people, for instance, are more likely to save. They are less likely to live paycheck to paycheck. Sure, some people suffer from lifestyle creep, but not everyone. If you’re big into frugal practices, you might try spending an equal amount of time pondering ways you can earn more money. Income is more malleable than we often think.
3. Rethink retirement. The usual retirement goal, to build up enough assets to live comfortably off the investment income, is going to be a stretch for most people. Fortunately, most Americans say they wouldn’t stop working if they won the lottery, so perhaps we’re asking the wrong question. A better question is to figure out what kind of work you’d enjoy doing in your later years — hopefully something flexible, creative, fun. Something you’d never want to retire from.
4. Spend to make your life easier. We all have 168 hours a week, and all the money in the world can’t buy us a second more. Money can, however, buy us back hours from life maintenance and non core competency tasks so we can spend more of those 168 hours on things we enjoy.
5. Money is completely fungible – a dollar spent on one thing can always be spent on something else. Figure out what you love to do, and how much that costs, and then view all purchases in light of that. A $50 sweater could also buy you and a friend a trip to an art museum, complete with lunch. A $200 impulse buy could be viewed as four lunches and afternoons with your friend, or a weekend getaway with your spouse. What would you enjoy more?
6. Use your money to create a better world – starting with your own neighborhood. You can build strong social institutions with your philanthropy, and figure out ways to invest in order to create a thriving community in which you’d want to live. Shop local and spend your money on people.