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I’ve just been watching a Casey Neistat video on YouTube. It’s one of my favorite videos by one of my favorite YouTubers (not that I watch many of them).
The video ‘Being RICH vs Being POOR’ is Casey’s take on the role of money in bringing about happiness in life. It was itself prompted by an article in the New York Times entitled ‘Wealthy, Successful and Miserable
I’ve been doing a bit of thinking on the subject of money myself and thought I’d stand on the shoulders of these giants and share my own feelings
I’ve been a working, tax and bill-paying ‘adult’ for over twenty years and have held a variety of roles in IT consulting and project management. I graduated in the midst of millennium-bug hysteria, and on the eve of the dot.com boom, when jobs seemed plentiful and were generally well paid
It would appear that notionally my income has always put me in the top 1% of earners globally. In spite of this, I’ve never, ever felt wealthy
For many years I lived way beyond my means, took advantage of the readily available credit and accumulated material possessions in the vain pursuit of happiness. All I was left with as a result was a load of debt and a hollow feeling inside
My financial situation has also been significantly influenced by my family life. I had kids at the age of just 23 and divorced with two kids just after my 30th birthday. I’ve always had an active role in raising my daughters and in part because of that, have for many years maintained two homes due to a complicated but equal co-parenting arrangement with my ex-wife
After a few years of fiscal rectitude, things are on an even keel now and I’m debt-free (aside from a ridiculous car-loan for a ridiculous car — the last vestige of my former idiotic spending, which will be gone this summer). I have some modest savings and a few investments but I’m far from what I’d consider financially secure. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for what we have.
This paradox often prompts me to evaluate my situation. I’m left with an overriding feeling of despondency that I’m not as financially secure as I’d like to be and should be after many years of earning decent money
I’m painfully aware of the poor decisions and misadventures that have brought me to where I am now. It doesn’t stop me from feeling mad at myself for the errors I’ve made as well as for feeling that life is somehow unjust for this being the situation
The premise of Casey Neistat’s video that appealed to me so much and helped me reach a better understanding of my predicament, is the proposition that for most people, money can solve most of the problems they face
He breaks down the problems that everyone has, into two separate categories
LIFE problems are things that everyone faces such as
Love — We all want to find a significant other with whom we can spend our life
Happiness — Most of us would like to experience some enjoyment and fun out of life rather than merely getting through it.
Fulfillment — A sense of fulfillment becomes a priority when we’re looking to do more than just ‘get through’ life
Purpose — This might become a priority in our career once we’re earning enough money to sustain our life, but when we also want to feel like our work has some meaning and is valued.
Life problems aren’t anything directly to do with money and can’t be solved by money alone. They’re experienced by everyone, rich or poor. They only become a factor to address when the fundamentals of life are in hand
These fundamentals are what Casey refers to as MONEY problems and they include
Housing — You’re unlikely to be concerned about dying alone if you haven’t got somewhere safe, warm and dry to
Food — It’s hard to think about whether you’re having sufficient fun in life if you’re starving and don’t know where your next meal is coming from
Transport — Finding a job can be hard, but it’s also tough to keep a job if you don’t have the means of getting there each day.
Clothing — How worried will you be about developing a sense of purpose if your shoes are falling to bits?
Healthcare — If you’re sick, you want to be able to see a doctor and pay for medicine if needed.
Money problems are far more fundamental. These are the things that we need money to take care of before we even consider addressing life problems. In that sense, money is the route to a better life as a means of solving these problems. If we’re unable to meet any of our fundamental needs, at least part of the solution is usually to get our hands on more money to solve the problems.