How Much is Enough

I have explained already that many things exist that money cannot buy to remind us that many values exist that are much more important than money such as integrity, true love and true friendship. In this article, I would like to speak on a topic based on a book written by Robert and Edward Skidelsky titled “How Much Is Enough?” 

 

In 1930, the great economist Keynes predicted that, over the next century, income would rise steadily, people's basic needs would be met and no one would have to work more than fifteen hours a week. Why was he wrong?

 

Robert and Edward Skidelsky argue that the modern world is characterized by insatiability, an inability to say enough is enough, and the desire for more and more because there is no distinction between needs and desires. They reject the idea that there is any single measure of human progress, whether GDP or 'happiness', and instead describe the seven elements of the good life: health; security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure.

 

“How much is enough?” is not only a public issue but also a life lesson for everyone.

 

What it comes down to is that everyone has basic needs which is being financially independently with money to live and money (for your kids) to study. Many financial specialists write articles about wealth management and I’ve also written a couple articles explaining how wealth management should start at a young age. However, I would like to go a little further and ask everyone to examine themselves more and seek to know when enough is enough and the myths behind it.

First myth: money will give you a better life. If a better life is based on less laboring and working less, then the result is fewer life experiences and fewer things learned. It will narrow your views, reduce your empathy and make you more of a self-centered person. 

 

Second myth: money will let you do anything you want. If you get used to spending money to meet your needs, your heart will follow your desires. The reality of it all is that your wants will only keep growing regardless. Which case is more respectable - the person who wins the Lotto 6/49 and donates half of it while keeping the same life or the one who spends it all on him/herself to buy big houses and nice cars? 

 

Third myth: money will earn you respect and help you make friends easier. Gaining popularity with money usually leads to bad karma, usually with your ‘friends’ causing you trouble.  And furthermore it will tempt you to no longer examine yourself and work on building a good character. The friendship and respect from your peers you build with money are simply a façade. Then, if one day you run out of money, your ‘friends’ will leave you and everything will go downhill.

 

Fourth myth: money is important to pass on to your children. Think about the days where you struggled to make a living and are finally able to enjoy the fruits of your labor and the characters you cultivated from your work: perseverance, humble and integrity. Do you really want to deny your kids of these life experiences? Furthermore, in many cases the fortunes that you leave to your children is like building a time bomb and hoping that it won’t explode as arguments and strained relationships are usually the final outcome.  

 

Fifth myth: money can help more people. It is true that money can help many people but in Canada, many people have abused the system by getting money from the government while making money without declaring. In another perspective, many volunteer, small groups help build schools, plant trees and provide clean water in third world countries with limited resources.  So do we really need large sums of money to help people?

 

How much is enough? Everyone has a different answer to the above myths according to his/her life stage, life experiences and financial situation. However, one thing is sure - the more empty your heart is, the more money you need. The more money you need, the more insecurity will appear in your life. When you face yourself honestly, improve yourself daily and be yourself, your desires will be under control and you will gain more freedom. Money, like stress, is a neutral thing. It all depends on how you manage it. Too much stress and pressure that is not dealt with properly may lead to depression. A life without any stress can lead to laziness. To pursue more and more money will only lead to greed. Most important of all, we should focus on the seven elements that Robert and Edward Skidelsky describe as the foundation for a good life: health, security, respect, personality, harmony with nature, friendship and leisure.

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