This is post four of six in a series about career and money from the point of view of a low-level nonprofit worker. For some reason I hear little about it in nonprofit land. The bottom line: if you don’t read The Simple Dollar, start now.
Goals Meet Reality: I Spend Less Money Than I Technically Could
I’m not even close to being poor. I have everything I need to be comfortable and fulfilled.
I do operate within certain limitations though. The thought of finding a place in my kitchen for a food processor or standing mixer is funny. I don’t have a 65″ HD TV, or an Xbox 360, or a new computer. I don’t have expensive hobbies like shopping or collecting or underwater photography.
It’s not that having those things wouldn’t be nice. And it’s not that I couldn’t go acquire them right now – I actually could. It’s that I want them much less than I want the freedom to work wherever I want to regardless of salary.
Maintaining and increasing this freedom means I really have to ask myself, “Do I need this?” and “Do I even want this?” before I buy things.
Sometimes the answer to whether I need or want a given item is surprising. My friends were baffled when I told them I threw out my old, fragile bed frame and chose not to replace it at all. My parents are exasperated that my computer turned six years old last week. My grandmother feels sorry for me because I only own one teabag holder.
But you know what? I don’t even notice I don’t have those things. Every morning I get up off my mattress on the floor after a good night’s sleep free of finance-related nightmares, open up my RSS feed on my still-functional computer, have a perfectly-steeped cup of tea with breakfast, and then head out to a job I love.
Let me reiterate that I’m not equating earning a small amount of money with happiness. That would be nonsense. I’m saying that I try select employment with a job-first mentality instead of a salary-first mentality. Spending much less than I earn helps me be flexible enough to pursue the work I want regardless of what it pays me, and I try to make my big and small choices align with this goal.
And besides, who wants to dust half a hundred teabag holders?