The most valuable thing money can buy is freedom from having to worry about money.
Unless you live with one of those tribes in the Amazon that have had no contact with the vast majority of human-beings, you will cross paths with money (“Cash”) constantly. It’s up to you to decide if Cash will be your master or your servant. This determination is made as much by your attitude as your income. Most of the anxiety people feel about Cash comes from their perceived lack of control over it. Cash as master invokes fear, stress and discontent. People who live paycheck to paycheck are the ones who constantly think about Cash. Those who compare their lifestyle to their wealthier family, friends, acquaintances or public figures are the ones wracked with unhappiness because of Cash.
Cash as servant, however, is an indispensable friend that can help maximize happiness. If you are reading this, you are probably in a position to hire Cash as your servant.
First make Cash buy you security.
Security means having a happy place to lay your head at night and enough food to eat consistently. The basic necessities a human being requires to survive and thrive — food and shelter — are available with amazing abundance. Technology and civilization have combined to create a world whose people can spend a smaller and smaller percentage of their income on sustenance. If you live in the United States, you have access to nearly every conceivable cost of living spectrum imaginable. If rent takes up too much of your earnings, dozens of other cities and states will welcome your contribution to maintaining civilization. As citizens, you have complete freedom of movement and choice for where you live and work that is a mere plane ride away from where you currently live and work. And compared to Europe, everyone speaks the same language!
It’s all relative. Expand your circle and compare your situation to the entire world to realize how much control over Cash you start with. People in other countries risk their lives for access to the necessities most of us take for granted.
Then let Cash buy you experiences.
Beyond the basic necessities, most people need stimulation and a sense of belonging to feel happy. Cash as servant gives you happy memories and social bonds through dinner with friends or a trip or a concert or a sporting event.
But don’t waste Cash’s super powers on things and stuff.
The additional stuff can make you happy up to a point, but you adapt to the shiny things surprisingly quickly and constantly need new stuff and more things to replicate the initial happiness buzz. Advertising is an entire industry brimming with smart, driven, competent people with one goal: to make you want a certain thing, to make you think your life isn’t complete until you own this stuff and to explain why this new stuff is so much better than your old thing. They create an itch and their product is the calamine lotion.
It’s all relative. Your things and stuff are easy to compare to other people’s stuff and things. Each experience, however, is unique to you and harder to compare. Cash as master sells you envy. Cash as servant gives you contentment.
Finally make Cash buy you time.
Almost everyone agrees that “time” is worth more than Cash. With Cash as servant, you alone dictate how you spend your days. Even if you love your job, financial security gives you freedom and clout. Human beings are extremely capable creatures given enough time and practice, we can do anything. What dream would you chase if you weren’t tied down by your job?
Having Cash as servant simply means having enough. Each person’s enough varies, but the less you need to spend to be happy, the more you can spend investing and the sooner you can buy time.