How much money or salary is enough?
How much salary is enough? I hear many people complain that some others make too much, and often it is true.
Imagine someone making 100 k$/year or 250, or 500 or 1M. Do you need all that? Are we taking too much? Will others be envious?
Reality is that most families of 4 live comfortable with 50–100 k$/year. What do people need? A house, 2 cars, 1–2 nice holidays per year… most people make it work thus so.
Far too often I see people long for more. We are a greddy animal. Gathering is in our genes, a remnant of times where abundance was not on the table. We will glady have 3–4 cars, even though we can drive only one at a time. We will gladly buy another home, even though we can only spend 3–4 weeks a year in it. We will fill our homes will multiple TV and devices, tools and amenities to live in ease. And for that we are the definition of middle-class, one that lives comfortably but can always have more.
How much more? If we look at a household with 250 k$/year what changes? Maybe bigger house, with rooms we barely use. Maybe another car, used not 10% of the day but 5% of the day. Maybe more gadgets and nicer holidays. but we can also buy better food and east out more often. Some of this is a nice addition, but the most is maybe just the waste of living large.
500 k$/year or more? Now we can afford another house, and hire people to maintain it. Splurge on fancier holidays, and have even more waste. Maybe we do not have to think twice about buying something on a whim — but is that thing going to be useful? Did we really think it over enough? Somehow doing some research and allowing time to really want something is an important part of enjoying that very thing.
There are people that make 1 M$/year or more, and I know they spend too much time at work or worrying about work, or worrying about how to use their money. Yes that is a thing! When you have more meny that you can use you will park it in an investment or in property. That means more worry. Will it go up or down, appreciate or depreciate? Can I afford a new mansion? When? Trust me that is a lot of stress for money you are not even using and often do not even have a plan to use it. Yes! Most people will gather more and more and long for more and more interest, but will then leave most of it to charity or to their kids. Kids that will be spoiled and often never find a meaning in life because they never had to try hard. Is that a good legacy?
I think the worse part of our society is that it makes us think that earning more if being more. But rarely that is the case. In actuality, the richer people are more miserable. You may have everything, but do you really enjoy things like when you were poorer? Having more money makes you more selective towards people, more isolated and lonely. You do not have to put up with some people and places anymore because you can afford “better” ones. More manicured and artificial places, but also miss our on the genuinely of the people and the places that are more common. Richer people also work less, and too much free time is also not healthy because you do not know how to fill your day, what to do, or how to feel useful and fullfilled.
I see many colleagues tied to jobs only because of the money trickling in. Living lives that are so miserable that it hurts to see. Yet they will drag themselves to an office to do many silly things they do not believe in just to earn that bonus, that extra payment. To raise up to a new job level, because that $ 10,000 more is REALLY going to make a difference.
From my experience and the people I observed, it is much better to have a mid-level job and career that allows more free time, and a better balance of life and career. More time with kids and family, more investment in nice experiences. Any job 100–250 k$/year will give you that if you can get it. Also not working is not as fun as most people think. It is actually horrendous for some active people. Better to see a better balance and never get sick of work and what you do! So a middle-ground where you can have more control on the hours you put in and do sprints and walks is the right recipe.
One issue that many middle-class people do not understand about richer people is the power of peer-pressure. Richer people will often have reacher friends, who often buy, invest, collect more things, property, etc. Then they visit each other house and long for a better kitchen, 1000 sqft more space, 5 car garage, or maybe even a house with a landing strip! So in a way it is a vicious circle of wanting more and gathering more and envying more. We are all in this greed cycle to some extent. It is in our genes to want more for our family, our tribe. To gather more, whether we use it or not, because you never know…
And if you try to convince you should aim lower, you will feel guilty, maybe I am not doing enough for my family? Maybe I should be more like my neighbor? It is not easy even to try to break away from the greed cycle because we like living in wealth and ease and abundance. All of us.
What is your goal? What is your comfortable range? Or better, what is your social network comfortable range?
About the author
I have almost 20 years of experience in neural networks in both hardware and software (a rare combination). See about me here: Medium, webpage, Scholar, LinkedIn, and more…
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