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Making “Enough” for Everything Isn’t Possible – Be Happy Anyway

Before you yell at me, obviously it is possible to make enough money to live and save on.  You have hopefully read one or two of my posts and know that we are good.  We pay our bills, save for our future, and spend on fun along the way.  But the more I talk to my friends and really listen to my husband, the more it becomes obvious that it is impossible to make enough to cover absolutely every need, want, and savings goal that we will ever have.  We want too much.

George Carlin - So Right!

 

Needs and Wants

Our need list is really short.  We need:

  • A place to live
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • High speed internet (our job is 100% online)

But we want out of our needs is:

  • A really nice place to live
  • Food based on what we crave
  • Utilities above what we really “need” since I like air conditioning and a green lawn
  • Super high speed internet

Then we want a bunch of things that are really important to us too:

  • Emergency fund savings since we like a ton of padding
  • Retirement savings
  • To pay cash for our next car
  • To pay off our house in 10 years or less (6 years or less like our first house would be great)
  • Biweekly housekeeping and lawn services
  • Entertainment like cable and Netflix

Then we want even more stuff that is just low priority:

  • I want a new laptop since mine is 6 years old and breaking down piece by piece.
  • We want a new dishwasher since the builder’s one sucks.
  • I want nice landscaping and an automatic sprinkler system.
  • Hubby wants an awesome library chair/chaise lounge.
  • We want new furniture for the living room and media room.

We Can’t Have It All

Just because we make more now than we have before doesn’t mean we get to buy or save everything we want money for…it just means we have more money to use towards our priorities.  There is never going to be enough cash just sitting around to satisfy our every whim.  I’m okay with that.  I just have to remind myself of it when I have those days that I’m feeling like an entitled brat.

I Want You to Be Happy

 

The Only Way to Be Happy

The only way any person is ever content with life is when they are honestly happy with what they have and stop basing their happiness on what they don’t have.  In my experience, everyone has bad moments once in a while, but the difference between a general optimist and a general pessimist is that the optimist concentrates on the good way more often.

I have no idea what the “true” meaning if life is.  Sorry, I don’t have all of the answers.  But I know that I feel better when I help others.  I feel better when I stay busy.  And I feel better when I am making those around me happy.  So my meaning of life is to be a generally good person that helps others and hopefully has some of my best feelings rub off on others.

So I try to take my own advice.  I try to be grateful and happy as much as possible with the blessings I have.  There are days that I mope around and get all whiny, but those are outnumbered by all of the great days.  Life is too short to feel unfulfilled and crabby all of the time.  And I know that I control my outlook.  That’s on me.  So I will continue to try to make every day a content one.

Be Happier than a Bird with a French Fry

 

How about you?  Do you ever find yourself concentrating more on what you don’t have?  Or are you already pretty good on staying positive and being content with your life?  Any tricks to stay positive or better a bad mood?  How about any tricks to wanting less?

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20 comments to Making “Enough” for Everything Isn’t Possible – Be Happy Anyway

  • I agree with this 100% and it comes down to setting priorities and sticking with them. When I look at potentially bringing in more money, and assigning that potential money toward various goals or purchases, there’s always a bigger list than money to fill it. Filling the list would ‘theoretically’ make me happy by addressing money concerns, but it’s about setting priorities and setting expectations, which then keeps things in check.

  • Some of the want items you have listed are actually needs for you. The emergency fund and a new laptop are essential to maintaining your very basic list of wants.

    They are needed to keep you working and to live if you can’t work.

  • This is a conversation my husband and I have sometimes. He grew up in pretty bad financial circumstances, and so he will often feel as though financial security means being able to do/buy what you want at any time. I remind him that even Warren Buffett has a budget that he must stick to.

    For me, having that budget and that structure gives me more happiness than having unlimited funds available. I enjoy a vacation more if I have to save up for it and have the chance to really anticipate it. If I could fly off to Rome at a moment’s notice, that would certainly be cool, but it wouldn’t make me happier than planning out the trip and saving for it a little at a time and thinking for a long time about how much I will enjoy the fruits of my savings and hard work.

    That’s why I know even if I sell a novel for millions of dollars someday (it’ll happen!), I’ll still live pretty frugally and I’ll still keep a careful budget. I like living simply more than I like stuff. And while I would always love to have more money for great experiences, I also try to remember that a lot of life’s best experiences are the little moments you get every day, like putting laundry up on the line in our back yard while my husband and son play and giggle on the grass beside me. I don’t have to go to Rome for that.

  • This is something that W and I talk about a lot. At what point are we making “enough” and can slow down and enjoy what we already have?

  • Right now this is tricky for us. We are very fortunate and are doing good for us, but my fiancée’s student loan debt hangs over our heads. Hopefully once things settle down a little bit more for us we can start attacking it again and get rid of it ASAP so we can start living according to what we want our priorities to be.

  • I have a pretty happy life doing all the things I always wanted to do, but I occasionally dwell on the negative. My wife reminds me when I dwell o the negative how good I have it. It is great to have a partner who is supportive.

  • I agree. Sometimes I give myself a headache thinking about all of our goals, and the timeline to achieve them. Sometimes I feel like I’m racing against myself, constantly trying to achieve more. Scary!!!

  • Usually I’m pretty good about being ok with what we do have vs what we don’t have. Lately it’s a little harder than usual as we’re making due with a crummy living situation for another year or so in order to work aggressively towards buying a house (which is our biggest priority right now). It’s hard now, but the payoff is going to be definitely worth it.

    Being ok with other trade offs is easier. I can live without that new skirt I want, and I can save my allowance to spend on my personal hobbies, and turning down dinner out isn’t a big deal.

  • christie

    It is so easy to think, ” I just want these few things”. Then after you get them, you want just a few more things. I have great faith in designers and marketers to keep us wanting something

    We hear a lot of stories of people making a lot of money and then losing it. I think that if you can realize that there will always be something you want, you have a better chance of keeping some of it.

  • ODWO

    Interesting post from you.

    You mentioned: The only way any person is ever content with life is when they are honestly happy with what they have and stop basing their happiness on what they don’t have…”

    … or, what they don’t have vs. “what others with more have (or could have).” A person isn’t lacking just because they don’t have a new car. A new gadget. Or something that they think will give them happiness or better “their position” on their supposed ladder of success(‘s).

    When we can succeed wihtout recognition ….. we have fulfilled a more personal goal. More than anything else anyone will ever understand. It’s something that (to quote a movie line) “a fleet of Mercedes Benz will never satisfy.”

    Something I believe in (and served me well): be thankful for what you receive, however little it might be from wherever, whatever, whoever it comes from. Don’t expect to receive for anything you give out. The giving alone should be enough to satisfy any hungers for recognition(s), happiness. Actions speak volumns over ones words.

    How to better a bad mood: Just remember … [one] can’t control others. No matter what one thinks they are trying to exemplify. Again, be thankful for what you receive, however little or sparse. If THAT (little bit: friendship, kindness, etc.) makes you happy, then nothing can make you sad (or irritable towards others). You will already be wealthy and in abundance … for life. No matter what happens.

    Tricks to wanting less? How about …. don’t need more. be happy with what you have, what you receive. the rest will find a way … if one is sincere to what they say. Don’t live beyond ones means, as they say. I have to admit … I’d like to park a new Corvette in our garage. But then logic overrides truth. WIll that really make me happy? Or am I just wanting to see what others think because “I have”)

    A bird with a french fry might be a very happy bird. They didn’t need a whole dozen or a super-sized order. One was enough. Boredom can make one feel inadaquate and give way to feelings of inadaquacy (sometimes masked w/arrogance). that’s something everyone goes thru’ at some point in life. Time (not words) always proves the truth.

    What’s that song? Don’t worry – be happy!
    ;^)

  • I think it’s OK to want things like lawn sprinklers. You could even argue that it adds value to your home. As long as you don’t have to go into debt to get those things, I think it’s fine. What is the point of making money if you don’t enjoy it.

  • Great to see this consideration of “needs” and “wants.” Thanks for the insight.

  • Sometimes I find myself in a spiral of “wants”. Like right now I really want a storage facility of my own, to hold all those things I needed and collected for the last several decades. Not only does getting everything you want not lead to happiness, it always leads to more maintenance and a need for more space. Even if its only money, you will have to keep tack of it more, the more you have, the more you need. Gets to where the things are forcing you to take care of them.

    My being happy isn’t about what I need or don’t need. I find just taking the time to notice the rest of the world makes me more happy than anything I could buy myself. Watching my children choose their paths also makes me happy. Happiness is being able to relax and share a moment ( I think that is probably on some Hallmark card somewhere). Being needed is actually more valuable than wanting any day.
    As far as where my concentration is at this moment; I am trying to get rid of unused stuff that someone wanted at some time in the past. I surprised myself by actually getting up and doing things I had put off because I needed to get organized, finish a project, or clean up; and I am finding I get a lot more done. Enjoying life sure gives you energy.

  • I think that the act of separating the needs from the wants is actually a great exercise… especially if you and your significant other share a budget. Its good to be on the same page as far as what the essentials are. Plus, it serves as a good reminder of all the “extras” we have in our life and really helps prioritize.

  • It is so easy for us to to overlook actual needs. We tend to think that we need everything. I will be looking at my needs and wants, and prioritizing. Thank you for the reminder.

  • I definitely catch myself not being grateful for what I have sometimes. I’d love to move somewhere with a cheaper cost of living and possibly a better (more relaxed) quality of life. Bf has to remind me (and I have to remind myself) that I should be thankful for having a lovely condo a 10 minute train ride outside of NYC (the greatest city on earth). I know there are so many people who would die to be in my shoes (bf is not from the US so he reminds me of this). Working on my “attitude of gratitude” each day.

  • It’s the basic truth of humanity. :) Economics is often defined as the attempt to satisfy unlimited wants with limited means….

  • @Money Beagle, I am a huge fan of prioritization since it does help keep things in perspective too.

    @Jane, true, but my current laptop technically works fine (I just have to use a plugin mouse now), so I consider it a current want. If it broke or wouldn’t turn on, then the new one would become a need in my opinion.

    @Emily, you sound super content. Yay!!! I am still impatient and wanty…I’m working on it though. :-)

    @Michelle, yeah, we have the same discussions. Mr. BFS always thinks we need more and I think we’re fine. But then a bad month rolls along and I get worried and he talks me down. LOL…we’re weird.

    @Lance, I think that sounds like a solid plan!

    @krantcents, LOL, most spouses would call that nagging, but I’m glad you appreciate the reminders. :-)

    @Savvy, exactly! Sometimes it’s good to step back and say “It’s okay right now.”

    @Sheryl, temporary constraints definitely feel more doable than long-term ones for me. Good luck with your home-buying process!

    @Christie, good point. :-)

    @ODWO, I whistled “Don’t worry, be happy” while I was writing part of this post, lol!

    @Kim, oh, I’m more than okay with having wants. I just wish I would remember to really appreciate everything I already have and the life we live more often.

    @Mike, thanks for reading!

    @retired, I totally agree! The happier I am with my life, the more I can get done too!

    @Michael, exactly!

    @Jules, you are welcome. :-)

    @KK, I think we all should work on our “attitude of gratitude” – love it!

    @Jenny, I hadn’t heard that one before, it’s a perfect definition!

  • I think reading PF blogs tends to make me feel bad about how we are doing! I veer between feeling fortunate for what we have (espcially right now, travelling through Asia and seeing how locals live) vs feeling totally inadequate.

  • [...] Making “Enough” for Everything Isn’t Possible – Be Happy Anyway BITFS –  This is something that W and I talk about a lot. At what point are we making “enough” and can slow down and enjoy what we already have? [...]