If Money Were No Object…

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Before you start your financial journey, you have to have a strong "why" and be able to answer the question, "What would I do if money were no object?"

Okay, so it wasn’t actually Emerson that said this. But it’s great food for thought regardless of attribution.

A big part of establishing your financial goals is determining your “why.”  I hadn’t asked myself this in a while, so recently I decided to sit down and reevaluate.  I’m not sure if asking why is the right question, though.  Because here’s what I came up with when I asked myself why:

  • Why do you want to improve your finances?  Because I want to buy a house and retire before I’m old and decrepit. 
  • Why do you want to buy a house, and what are you going to do when you retire? I want to buy a house so I own something and don’t have to pay rent to make someone else rich.  Very vague idea of retirement.  Would love to travel and be a snowbird, but might have some other obligations that make the future kind of fuzzy in that regard.
  • Why does it bug you so much to make someone else rich?  Does a house really make you rich? And why do you want to be rich? I guess someone being made rich at my expense makes me a little spiteful.  I want what they have.  I don’t really know why I want to be rich other than comfort and a feeling of security.  I know I don’t want to overwork myself and neglect other areas of my life to get there, though.  I have a strong work ethic, but don’t want to spend my entire existence stressed.  And, no, silly, a house doesn’t make you rich.  If you pay it off you no longer have a monthly payment due every month, but the house in and of itself is a place to live.
  • If you’re doing this out of spite to get something you’re not sure you want at the expense of time and stress you don’t want to exert, then why are you doing it? I DON’T KNOW!

There were quite a few other justifications I didn’t include in there for your sake, but that’s the general picture.  By asking why, and digging deep, all I found was uncertainty.  A worship of work abounds in our culture, but the more I live my life the more I realize I want to build other aspects of my life.  I don’t want to be a lazy  mooch, but I’m not quite sure why I put all the pressure on myself that I do.  Because this is what happens when I ask myself this question:

What would you do if money were no object?

  • Travel.  Though I’ve done this on a budget almost every time I’ve gone.
  • Spend a ton of time outside.  Especially with my kids.
  • Do genealogy.  Because it’s like solving a mystery and I have some weird thing about remembering people after they’re gone…I feel like people aren’t truly ‘dead’ until people stop speaking of them, and that all of our stories are important…I’ll spare you the full spiritual rationalization.
  • Serve.  Take care of the people in my life that need help, but that time disallows me from reaching out to in the way I want to right now.
  • Take my kids to do all the coolest things.
  • Have date nights at least once a week with my husband.  Right now we’re sitting at once every few months.  It’s a mess.

Want to know the crazy thing about all of that?  Almost none of it requires tons and tons of money.  The thing about taking my kids to do cool stuff reveals more about my insecurities as a mother than their interest in crazy expensive experiences.  At this point in their lives, spending time with mommy anywhere is more important than participating in the coolest parts of pop culture.  I guess I should average out for that changing in coming years, though.

But everything else requires time.  So what I actually want isn’t money; it’s time.  And my lifestyle of preference apparently doesn’t require as much financial maintenance as I had previously thought.

Have you ever evaluated your “Why?”


10 thoughts on “If Money Were No Object…

  1. Amanda @ centsiblyrich

    I guess there is some truth to the statement “the best things in life are free”! You’re right, asking “why” is sometimes counter-productive and the answer isn’t always clear.

    My “why” is like yours. Time is my most precious asset – I have to remind myself frequently to value it above all else!

  2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    Yep – I want to be able to buy a house for a bit more space so we can rescue more dogs, spend time with my family, travel, take care of my health, and know that I’ll be able to take care of my family. Much as I may not like to face it, Dad’s only going to get older and chances are likely we’re going to have to support him through a prolonged illness, like I did for Mom. Everything I want to do involves having a lot more money than we have: more space, more dogs and their care, more time with my family means being able to afford not working as much, paying for healthcare in this country is No Joke.

    Also I would fret myself to pieces if I didn’t have a huge cushion of savings and investing.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      There’s the crux of it…having the money to give yourself the time. The longer I go on this journey called life, I’m realizing that unless I build something up that’s seriously passive (like your investing!) I’m going to be more relegated to either/or. Hours for money is a hard hustle.

  3. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    I really like how you’ve shared a great example of your self-reflective working through your why. It’s really easy to throw out terms like values-based spending or life purpose, but it helps to see someone break those down. What we want is very similar–to travel, give our kids attention and some awesome experiences, and to spend time with our friends and each other. We all want more time and I think it helps to clarify that and keep it in the balance so you don’t work your life away trying to get more of what you might already have.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Oh, my gosh, I love that last line. And all of it, really, but that last line feels important. Thanks so much, Kalie!

  4. NZ Muse

    For so long my why has been a house: for security, stability, health, long term finances.

    I finally feel like I can let up a tiny bit, but there’s still heaps to do.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      It’s so awesome that you’ve met that goal! I live in one of the more (most?) stable housing markets in the US, though we’re not immune to the rent hikes that have been happening all over the country. I can only imagine what a nightmare you must have lived through in Auckland.

  5. Jana @ Jana Says

    I’ve never really done a self-reflective “why” for my money goals but a big one is that I want my daughter to grow up with a healthy attitude towards money. I don’t want it to be something she stresses about or fears and that it’s something she knows how to manage and use effectively and properly.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      That’s an amazing goal. As much as I love blogging about money, I do think a lot of my obsession comes from self-imposed stress and a fear of what would happen if I let up on my anal retentive habits. I hope your daughter grows up with a healthier attitude about it all than me!


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