For the next two months or so, I’ll be running a very informal book club here at the blog, working through the chapters of All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending. In future weeks, I’ll link back to previous book club posts, so you can jump in at any point.
This week, I’ll start at the beginning (which I hear is a very good place to start). In the introduction, I talk about what happy people believe about money. The first thing they need to believe is that they have enough. While there are a few people with more in this world, there are also quite a few with less. They also feel in control of their money in the sense that they believe they can expand their resources over time if they want to. And finally, they view dollars as choices. Happy people believe that how they earn and spend their money is up to them.
It’s the last point that I think would make a good discussion topic. Are dollars choices? What do you most dislike spending money on (or as much money on as you do?) Is that possible to change over time? If someone were to look at how you earn and spend your money, what do you think they would take from that survey? What would they say your values were?
Looking at how I earn my money, I think an observer would note that I really, really want to like my work. I’m not sure where I developed the deep belief that work is supposed to be fun, but that belief shapes my entire worldview. I’ve on occasion taken big financial hits to preserve my enjoyment of writing. When I stop enjoying a gig, I quit. I also really like having my name attached to stuff. Ghostwriting is among the more lucrative things I’ve done, but very few projects along those lines advance my own career. The exception would be an obvious blockbuster where I was given credit on the cover. If I knew I needed more cash for big goals, I might also take on a project. But if I don’t right now, then I should put my mental energy into other things.
As for how I spend my money, an observer would note several things. First, I believe in paying my taxes (I’m sure someone could argue that withheld taxes mean that dollars aren’t really choices, but spend a while in the freelance economy, and you’ll see people getting away with all sorts of things — not something I would consider). Second, I view childcare as both an investment in my career and in my children being happy, healthy and well-prepared for school and life. In other words, not something I’d like to skimp on. An observer might also decide that charity wasn’t a priority for me. This is not something I’m particularly proud of, and would like to change over time as I figure out what my giving strategy should be, but that is probably the conclusion an observer would draw looking at my life right now.
What conclusions would our observer draw about your life if she could examine your finances? What conclusions would you like her to draw?
In other news: I was on Fox & Friends this weekend talking about the marginal cost of kids. If you didn’t get up at 7:20am on Saturday to watch me (I’m hurt!) here’s the clip: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-friends-weekend/index.html#/v/1486297101001/more-kids-make-more-cents/?playlist_id=163197