Sunday, March 11, 2018

Here's A Question For You

Would having adequate amounts of money make you happy?

I'm not talking about having so much money you couldn't possibly spend it all in your life time, but rather enough so you could purchase all the fencing materials to keep your vegetable garden and orchard safe from hungry critters, or enough to get that much needed tune-up on your main vehicle (and why not get those rust spots on the body taken care of at the same time?), or even enough to hire (gulp) a professional to power wash and paint the house this summer rather than spending the time doing it yourself.

My better half and I have been struggling with achieving that elusive balance between work and time off.  You know, time off to spend the day (days, even?) recreating, relaxing, pursuing personal goals, doing nothing if that's what seems needed.

Try as we might, that balanced life doesn't come as easily as we would wish.  I tend to think it would be easier to achieve if we didn't feel it necessary to put in our own time and labor on certain tasks rather than making them go much faster and easier by, for instance, being able to purchase all the best of needed materials for a job at once or enlisting the aid of a professional who could do the job probably better and certainly quicker.

I'm not for a moment suggesting we're suffering from lack of funds to provide us with the basic needs of life.  But we do have to keep a close eye on the money we have coming in and the way it goes out.  Therefore, we tend to do whatever we can in the way of home maintenance and improvements to our property using our own time and labor.  We're careful in the purchases we make.  We make do with equipment and supplies that are recycled or purchased ones that are "not exactly" what we would choose if we could buy the top of the line.  We take care of what we have so it lasts a long time.

Looking at our To Do List for this coming spring/summer/fall season when weather up here near the tundra is conducive to nearly all projects without risking frozen extremities (or slipping ladders --- let's not even think about that), we fantasize about ordering new fencing materials (sorely needed) and hiring a crew to come in to install same.  'Twould be done in a day's time, I betcha.  Wow.  Super.  Let's do it.  Then rather than spending the week (or so) doing it ourselves, we could take the time off and go canoeing, hiking, sight-seeing.  If I had the time, I'd love to volunteer at our wonderful library.

The one stumbling block to creating this kind of scenario, of course, goes back to the financial dilemma.  So much in life seems to go back to the financial dilemma.

Would we be happier if we had adequate amounts of money to use in any way we wished?  Would the money enable us to create an environment in which we felt we could have more of a balanced life?  Would I have a more restful night's sleep if I didn't wake, as I did this morning, from a stressful dream of agonizing over buying a new set of bathroom towels?  (In my dream, I was in a large department store and after spending too long comparing the price of towels, I finally purchased a set and then was devastated when presented with the bill of over a thousand dollars!)  Silly, I know, and small peanuts compared to the problems many folks have.  (I'm aware others are struggling to put food on the table, and I don't mean to make light of that.)  But I'm sure in my subconscious this all relates back to feeling the need to "count pennies" when dealing with finances.

So how do you feel about the question, "Will money buy you happiness?"  We frequently hear the saying, "Money won't buy you happiness," but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Wanna share?

50 comments:

Michelle said...

Sounds like we are in the same canoe. Without private school tuition (which we've only been paying the last two years since I homeschooled before that) and increased medical and dental bills (oh, the joys of getting older!), we would have more wiggle room in our budget, but then again there always seems to be some unforeseen circumstance (like your vehicle) that foils the hope of an easier month or year. I admit to a twinge of bitterness/jealousy when I found out that my MIL, who had SAID she was going to help with tuition but never has, is going on a three-week vacation to the British Isles this summer – a DREAM trip of mine.

But all that said, I really don't think more money would make me happier. Lots of 'comfortable' and rich people are miserable; I do believe comes down to what you focus on and choose to value.

Sparkless said...

Money won't buy you happiness but it can allow you do do things that make you happy. As you said in the fence thing where if you hired someone to come in and do the fence that would allow you time to enjoy yourselves and thus would lead to more happiness. So in a way money can buy happiness but not 100% of the time. It really just buys you options which you wouldn't have if you didn't have enough money.

Goatldi said...

I think more than having the money to do it is to give yourself permission to rearrange items. Unless it is something that the homestead cannot function without being replaced or repaired we need to give ourselves permission on occasion to choose the more "frivolous" choice.

I try to set aside a little something each month to do something that gives me a sense of pleasure. It could be buying that roving on an Etsy shop that I can spin and then knit into socks. Fun for me but useful in a round about way.
The big monster to conquer is the permission without guilt. Are we being selfish by treating ourselves to something that makes our life more enjoyable? Be it a new garden implement, roving to spin or that peppermint mocha with an extra shot when in town doing errands for 6 hours.
Taking good care of ourselves I think is a good investment on a regular basis. Because there will be those months that there isn't two extra pennies to rub together and good mental health is important to living through those times.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I have always cared very very little for money...

Leigh said...

Excellent post, Mama Pea. I can very much relate because Dan and I have the same ongoing dilemma. On the other hand, we realize that if we'd had a lot of money in the beginning, we would have made purchases and done things that we wouldn't make now even if we had the money. Living the life reveals so much about it's reality. Being poor has taught us to be more creative, more patient, and more reliant on what we do have. The old "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" really works, if one is willing to make the mental adjustments. The hardest thing for Dan, was shifting from a envisioning a finish line to seeing it as an ongoing lifestyle. Setbacks like his hand really drive all that home, but patience with self and circumstances isn't something most of us were born with.

Kristina said...

Well, in our case, if I had all that money, we'd have our $5,000 of medical bills paid off and we'd have much less of a financial headache for sure. Then we'd be able to put a new roof on one barn, dig my root cellar, build my greenhouse, put up a much needed dog fence, fence off the remaining back "40" and get a meat cow, buy a tractor and brush hog and remove all the pasture trees etc and plant a huge crop of popcorn to sell, put in wood flooring in my house and rip out all the carpeting, install new windows .......well, I can dream, lol!

SmartAlex said...

Yes, having adequate amounts of money can improve your happiness. I recently received a raise which allows me to max out my 401k contribution. So instead of enjoying the increased paycheck I am putting the entire increase into investment and will stop worrying about whether I'm doing enough for my future. I will not be buying the Calvin Klein towels I crave, but will continue to make do with the WalMart version. And if you find any contractors who can do work better than the people it really matters to (i.e. you or I) then please send me their names and I'll fly them out here because around here if you get someone to show up in the first place they still do a half-assed job.

Karren said...

Nice thoughtful post. Having lived right on the edge of the poverty level all of my life, I'm very familiar with the art of making the most out of every penny. The few times we had a little extra, we tried to find something fun to so along with the necessary. Yes, knowing how rare any extra money is, and how to use it to the best possible result, I would be made very happy to have more money to raise my standard of living by a bit and have more fun too--and I'd sure love to have a chance to test that theory. But in the meantime, I'm content to continue on the thin edge of broke, while still having little bits of fun now and then.

Susan said...

Amen to that, sister!

Susan said...

It seems your post has struck a chord with many of us. I don't know about happiness, but I would be a) retired and b) under a lot less stress when the inevitable you-know-what hits the fan. As I do everything alone and not a spring chicken, I find myself having to hire people to do more and more of the work for me. This has led me to wonder if it might be better for me - in my next configuration - to pare down to a much smaller lifestyle in all aspects of the word.

Mama Pea said...

Possibly same canoe, but we both still have good paddles, don't we? :o) I realize people with money can be miserable and it is true how you spend the money and the values you have can make a difference. Are those rich people unhappy because they don't have the balanced, good life? If it comes to that, maybe their priorities need to be re-evaluated. I wonder . . .

Mama Pea said...

Sparkless - So well put! Money buys you OPTIONS!

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - You are spot on with all of your points. Now, my next question to you: Do you have any openings, Doctor, when I can come lie on your couch?

Mama Pea said...

Op Ex - Boy, do I have more questions for you . . . ! ;o)

wisps of words said...

Grrr... I had a comment going, and it went pooof! -sigh- Try again.

Yes, having sufficient money, to do repairs, without having to worry about doing them, would bring you joy. And allow you time, to do things, for simply joyful existence.

wisps of words said...

Each person/couple have different ideas, on what constitutes "enough," for them. If they have savings, which allow them to move to a smaller-better-for-them home, in later life... And need only a few cherished items, in that home, to be happy... Then they would be happy thus.

If they continue to try to maintain more than they easily can, in retirement years, they would need more money perhaps, than they have.

All of this, is speculation. And very personal.

And I had better Publish, before this goes poooof!

wisps of words said...

Here, we still inhabit a family home, for which we have no need. But it is next door to family, and so we stay. -sigh- I'd love a just right size for us house, on one floor.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get rid of the "stuff," accumulated over years and years. Even if we never move... It is hanging over our heads. We keep doors closed, upstairs, because the contents are so depressing. Bahh-humbug. I'm getting rid of it!

Which is Off Topic. I apologize. ,-)

Goatldi said...

Awe Mama Pea does this mean you want want to share my basket to Hell in a the handcart?😘

tpals said...

Sigh, money. Just last week my son said he wished we could win the lottery without having to buy a ticket.

I think the answer is yes, I would be happier without the worry of finances.

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

I believe it all comes back around to money/finances. I don't think having money would make me happier, but it certainly would help things along. I hazard a guess that there are more of us out there than not. And that makes me sad.

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - No, it means you have good common sense, know how to tell it like it is and I want you to be my mentor/psychiatrist for as long as we have left in this good life! ;o)

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - There's no doubt that having to wait either for money for materials or time to actually do a project gives one time to think and rethink . . . and often change plans before it's said and done. But wouldn't Dan (and you, too) possibly get some more joy in day to day living if he had the TIME to use his artistic talents and for you, you could get back into your love of fiber arts. That's the kind of balance I'm wondering if an adequate amount of moola would bring into our lives. Patience is a good virtue to cultivate, but having a balanced life of more than just work would be nice, too.

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - Yes, yes, yes, I can relate exactly to what you're saying. Reaching some of your goals would certainly create happiness. (In my opinion.)

Mama Pea said...

SmartAlex - I think you be one smart lady in the way you're handling your pay raise!

It is difficult to find talented (honest and responsible) craftsmen or women these days, isn't it? A few years ago we had four roofers out to give us an estimate on re-roofing our house. One didn't want the job because it looked "too hard," one gave an out-of-sight quote, two never got back to us. Sigh.

Mama Pea said...

Karren - You sound like you're doing a very good job of doing the very best you can with what you've got to work with. I give you lots of credit and admiration for that.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - We're on the same wave length . . . paring down to a smaller lifestyle in the hopes of not having to work so hard. And it's not that the "work" we do is unpleasant or something we don't like. It's just that it takes about 98-1/2% of time available! When much of what we're trying to do relates to being in good shape when the you-know-what hits the fan, it's hard to figure out what should be cut. :o\

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - Methinks having time to do things for simple joyful pleasure (i.e., getting that balance) would then make the "work" easier and more joyful, too!

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - Yes, having the money to structure your life in a way that brings daily joy and contentment . . . that's the balance I'm talking about!

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - No, it's really not off topic. It's part of getting that balance. (Anybody tired of hearing me say that word?) Maybe it's not the bigger, no longer needed house that's weighing you down, but rather just all that accumulated stuff. If you concentrated on going through, organizing and getting rid of the "stuff" I'm thinking you might look at the house structure in a different light. I think it's great that you have family next door. Family is more important these days than every before!

Charade said...

What a great discussion you've started. We talked about a similar thing when our two kids and four grandkids were here for Christmas. The question was asked of everyone, "What is the most important life lesson you learned from your parents?"

Our daughter said it was teaching her about Cost Per Wear. She never liked to wear anything more than twice, so when I pointed out that a $100 outfit better make her happy, because it actually cost her $50 every time she wore it versus a $30 outfit which only cost her $15/wear, that lesson has stuck with her every time she shops for anything.

Our son said it was learning never to tie his self-esteem to the car he was driving. He, like us, only buys used cars, maintains them very carefully, and drives them until they become a charitable donation. Everyone at the table named a friend or two who upgrade their vehicle frequently or buy one they really can't afford.

By the end of the discussion, they laughed at how aggravated they used to get when they thought we were too frugal (stingy) with our money. Now they're grateful that, barring catastrophe, we may have enough put away to fund our retirement and end-of-life needs. It feels good to consider what we have as enough for our simple needs. Now praying that remains the case.

Mama Pea said...

tpals - I just love that you say unequivocally say you'd be happier without the worry of finances. Me, too!!

Mama Pea said...

MrsDM - I have to admit I feel selfish and whiny thinking an adequate amount of money would make me happier, but I honestly do. At any rate, I'd like to give it a try and report back. ;o)

In our current day society, the rich are getting richer and the middle and low financial classes are having a harder and harder time of it. You're right. That does make one sad.

Mama Pea said...

Charade - How interesting that question you asked at Christmas time. I'm wondering how our daughter would answer it.

So many people we know are living waaaay beyond their means. (Maybe they've taken their cue from our government. Arrrgh.) Sounds as though you've done a great job of raising your kids and making some sacrifices to insure you can be secure financially at this stage of your lives. Kudos to you!

The Wykeham Observer said...

It's such a hard question. And being human and imperfect, we all come at this from a different direction. My own feelings on money, since an early age, have moved around "putting it away for a rainy day." We have to have fun too. But my idea of fun is getting the lawn mowed an hour earlier, or getting a car wash in town and not doing it at the hydrant in front of the barn. Maybe one way to approach it is getting the house pressure-washed and painted (of course at a reasonable cost, ha) and using the time to get the garden hoed and weeded, and the basement cleaned myself. That's how I look at it, I guess. Maybe even using some of the time to go to town for coffee and an apple fritter.

Goatldi said...

Ladies I hear you and raise you one.Cup of Chai tea that is. I have two main problems neither of which are money. One is after 33 years with dairy goats it is a hard habit to break. And I use the milk always have. The other is my husband. I try to keep things down to a dull roar in all areas as when he is actively ill again (chronic is a four letter word) life shifts from new normal to new new normal. And the thing that rattles my chain more than the money is if something happens to me even marginal like a broken arm we are in a heap of deep. Makes any sense?

Theresa Young said...

It would be nice to have more money. I could breathe a little easier. But its not necessary. I can say that now that I'm older and know what's, or more accurately who's important in my life. Thirty years ago I would have said give me the money!

Mama Pea said...

Phil - Plus, the other thing is what each of us defines as "a balanced life." Just for the record, I love hoeing and weeding in the garden so I'd gladly pay someone else to do a task I dislike . . . and feel good about it. :o}

Mama Pea said...

Theresa Young - You're absolutely right in that we can't put a monetary value on family and friends we love. And our needs and wants at different times in our lives certainly does change!

Goatldi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Goatldi said...

Mama Pea you are my Guru. I mean we could have a mutual admiration society going no? And you what made my day today? I noted that I am now on your following list. I feel like I got the lead in the high school musical! Aw shucks.

Goatldi said...

Right on Smart Alex!

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - You always make a lot of sense to me. As far as the health thing goes, no amount of money in the world can give us back our health so the best we can do is try to structure our lives (gain a healthy balance?) as a preventative to losing ones health. And I fully realize that doesn't always do the trick.

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - Yep, you've been added to my list over on the right hand side bar but I've been following you religiously for some time now. Just now getting some needed changes made to the page. Glad this gave you such a chirky boost today, but my goodness, you are worrying me if that's what did it!! Hugs, pal.

Rain said...

I think that money does buy happiness because it offers comfort and security. Of course, I don't have money, but I'm happy anyway because like you and Papa Pea, Alex and I make do and do as much as we can on our own because we don't have the pennies to hire people to do things for us. It would be nice to have less expenses though. When we buy, the work load will increase, but part of me can't wait for all of that. Stars in my eyes? :)

When we decided to leave the city life and move up north together, we decided we'd try to survive on one income. Well, I always lived up north, but moved back to Montreal when I met Alex. He was doing well at Bell Canada back then. But we both longed for nature and quiet. We decided to give up the "cushy" lifestyle of having 2 incomes and though we're pretty broke a lot of the time, we get by. We're happier this way. I wouldn't say no to finding a discarded sack of hundreds though lol...

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Money won't buy happiness. Granted having money would relieve stress for many people and make living easier. My thought, both you and your husband have worked hard to get things done on your homestead over the year. You budget accordingly therefore, you need to take time (a nice break) to relax your body, refresh, and enjoy each other before starting another project.

Hugs,
Sandy

Mark said...

Hi Mama Pea. I admit I'm late to the party here, so I'll keep it short. Once the basic needs were met, De and I have been no more or less happy in times of plenty than we are in the lean times.

These days energy is as much a limited currency as money, but I think the principle is the same: Be a faithful steward of whatever you have, whether it be little or much. We usually prefer to use what we already have even if it's not exactly what we want rather than spending extra energy or money to make something just a bit better. Improvements come, but they are a measured and considered thing, not a given thing. There's a principle we teach young engineers and physicists at the day job: "Better is the enemy of 'good enough'". It applies to spending our own resources as much as it applies to our customers' resources.

Would I be happier if I had the money to just go out and buy everything we would like to have for the homestead and have some of it installed? I doubt it. That sort of thing just has never been a big source of happiness for us.
Might be a bit less tired, though, and for some things in this season of our life that justifies the cost. Sometimes not. There is more to life than an impeccable manicured lawn or another homestead appliance I don't have time or energy to take proper care of.

All that being said, as the seasons of our lives change the way we balance labor vs mechanization vs dollars needs to change to. Right now, for us, we choose to spend a little more where it can help preserve my health. After retirement - hopefully in a couple of years - we'll need to revisit that.

Mary said...

What a timely question for me to see on your blog as I have been surfing blogs. My life has been filled with challenges of all types and very few breaks between. At the age of 78 it is the first time in 50 years (starting April 1) that I feel the relief of the heavy burden that "not having enough money" carries. Of course, the word "enough" probably has as many meanings as the stars in the sky. I have tried to live my life with full awareness that "cash in the trash" can be avoided. I have always thought that I don't need a lot but your question is very poignant at this time. Through the years I have learned to do without a lot and I do most of my home repairs. Yes, I am grateful that I have had the ability to learn these skills. The last couple repairs were to repair my electric range and replace my garbage disposal. I pressure wash the cement and house. Up until two years ago I was still leaf blowing the roof of the house. But, it always was paying the larger bills (like insurance, winter heating, medical bills, ect.) that caused the most stress. I can hardly believe that my life is going to be easier. It feels like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I can't imagine being a reckless spender! When my friend asked what I was going to buy, I said new underwear! I guess my answer to your question is Yes, adequate money makes me happier, a lot!
Sorry, I am not more specific with details but I did not inherit or win the lottery! Blessings to all.

Mama Pea said...

Mark - A well written (and I'm sure thought out) philosophy. Thanks for sharing. You bring up some very good points worth considering. And, as we all know, our personal health is more important than any amount of money. Hugs.

Mama Pea said...

Mary - I think many of us are in the same boat in that we don't need a lot, but not having the financial means to cover the "enough" can, indeed, weigh very heavily.

It's true I don't know you personally but still from what you've written here, I cannot imagine you being a reckless spender. Under any circumstances.

I laughed out loud when you said you were looking forward to buying new underwear. I can so relate! Things like that continually get pushed to the bottom of the list for oh-so-many reasons!

I so appreciate your very honest answer to my question and I have a big grin on my face and in my heart for your good fortune. Hooray for April 1st! You sound like a wonderfully deserving person! Thanks for commenting.

Leah said...

This post really hit home with me Mama Pea. Being a broke graduate of college with a MOUNTAIN of student loan debt I am still living with my parents and agonizing over how to buy a new pair of pants for work.
I have to say that more financial freedom would help with my stress levels, and possibly my quality of life. However my parents and I have an amazing tight bond that I never would have gotten had I the money to move out.
That said I do try to work smarter not harder in everything I do. Both on our land in the garden and in my life. If it's worth the money to pay someone to do it so I can get another project done that's what we do. It's a give and take balance that I don't think most people have quite figured out.