How Much Money Is Enough?


We spend a lot of time in our society talking about money – not having enough of it, and how to get more. But I’ve realized lately that we rarely talk about what to do when we have enough – or how to even recognize when we get there. It’s become abundantly clear to me over the last couple of weeks that I struggle with knowing when to say “enough.”

Like many people, I easily get swept up in the cyclone of bigger, better, faster, more.

If 5 is good, 10 is better.

Five what? Doesn’t matter. Pounds, dollars, jobs. Photos taken, closets cleaned, articles written. If it can be measured or achieved, it can be improved upon.

But nowhere is this phenomenon more obvious than when we start talking about money.

There is no such thing as Enough.

There is only Good, Better, and Best.

More, more, more.

If 5 is good, 10 is better.

When we began planning our year of travel, we set a savings goal. We determined that we wanted to save X amount of dollars before we left for our trip so that I would only have to earn Y amount of dollars each month while we were on the road.

Good news: we saved X amount of dollars!

And it was good!

For about 30 seconds.

If 5 is good, 10 is better.

In addition to our savings goal, I planned to build a client base that would allow me to work very much part-time while earning enough money to cover half of our monthly expenses, allowing our savings to cover the other half.

Good news: I did that!

And that gave me a big sense of relief!

For about 30 seconds.

Wouldn’t it be great, I’ve been thinking, if we saved enough to cover all of our expenses for the entire trip?

And wouldn’t it be even better if I could earn enough money each month to cover all of our expenses and we still had a year’s worth of expenses in savings when we were done?

If 5 is good, and 10 is better, isn’t 15 the very, very best?

Somewhere along the way, I forgot why I set my goal at 5 in the first place. I decided months ago that 5 (or X, or whatever example we’re using here) was the number to shoot for because that number would allow me to travel full-time with my family without killing myself to support us or stressing over money.

And then I raised the bar. Again. Because that’s just what I do.

The problem is that 10, in this case, isn’t necessarily better, and 15 is miles beyond my original intent. Working harder to earn more money means I’m missing out on the parts of life that I wanted to pay for in the first damn place.

But I’m not actually killing myself. I’m not working too hard. I could probably even work a little harder if I had to.

I think there might be an entire ocean between “working too hard” and “working just enough”, and I’m wearing myself out swimming in those vast waters.

But how do I know when we have enough money?

Not just for this one trip, but in general. I’ve gotten rid of an entire houseful of possessions in an effort to minimize what I have to maintain, but I can’t seem to let go of having the resources available to maintain all of those possessions I no longer have.

I don’t need more money. I don’t need to take on another client. I don’t need to say yes to one more big project that I’m not head over heels in love with. I don’t need to put in more hours in order to make sure my family’s needs and wants are taken care of.

So what the hell am I doing?

I need to learn to stop when I have done enough.

In the same way that I decided to have just enough things in my home in order to make room in my life for more important things, I need to learn to accept having enough financial security.

But if 5 is good, 10 is better.

I’m amazed at how difficult I’m finding it to step out of that loop.

Have you ever decided how much money would be enough?

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