Money = More = Better?

In the January 17, 2005 issue of Time magazine, there is a great article on happiness and how money affects happiness. It talks about how people constantly search or yearn for more money, but yet it brings us more anxiety than happiness. They found this out through polls taken on society; while trends in earning and spending since World War II climb dramatically, the graph on happiness is totally flat. In fact, charting depression shows a steep rise despite our quest for happiness through more cash. Somewhere along the line, we’ve gone haywire.
I was in such a gameplan. At least I wasn’t greedy and focused on acquiring more and more wealth, but certainly I exhibited many characteristics of Money=More=Better. I went from a 1800 sq ft house to a 3400 sq ft house. I owned 4 cars. I constantly bought more books and CDs. Every year I turned over my technology like computers and gadgets.
So what was the result of all this? An incredibly cluttered house filled to the brim with junk. Piles of books with no time to read them. A room full of PCs and Macs that have nowhere to go. Closets full of clothes I don’t wear.
Am I more happy? Don’t think so.
In fact as I acquired wealth, I discovered many things.
First, you gotta manage your wealth. Wow, what a host of headaches that produces. Finding the right financial manager that isn’t out to get your money is really tough. There are so many unscrupulous people out there who are ready to take whatever you got and make tons of money off of you. And don’t even care if you make any percentage points or not.
Second, paying taxes really sucks. Because you have wealth, filling out your tax form becomes almost impossible. So you hire yet another person to help you there.
Third, What do I do with all this crap that I collected? No place to put them or store them, no time to get rid of them. Oh and by the way, just how DO you get rid of them? Sell them on ebay? Oops got no time for that. Truck them down to Goodwill? Chuck them in the trash? Oh, wait, don’t want to pollute the environment by watching old PC boards leak noxious chemicals into the environment. Now what? Got time to drive your crap all over the city, dropping them off one by one to the extra special places for each type of thing? Good luck.
Fourth, a 3400 sq ft house for one person? Totally unmanageable. I came to this realization when I got an apartment in LA. Two bedrooms, two baths, living room, kitchen. Took me 30 min to clean up and make it look great. Months later, I still haven’t made a dent in 3400 sq ft of crap.
Where did we ever get on this kick of wanting the next bigger thing? I know my parents always dreamed of having a bigger house. Why is this? More wealth? Is real estate such a great investment? I just read some articles about how over-valued some markets are. Doesn’t seem like the perfect solution to wealth. But also, there comes with the frustration and added responsibility of maintaining a bigger house. Some people have hired huge staffs just to manage a 5000 or 10000 sq ft house! Geez we’re now a corporation and constantly in negative cash flow to pay for all our help!
So I’ve learned that money does enable many things. So it’s great for that. It provides for things that you would not otherwise have, like security and the future. If done right, it frees up time for the better things in life. If done right….
But I’m totally on a frustration reduction kick. More stuff does not necessarily equate to more happiness. In fact it seems to increase frustration more than happiness. So whatever I do must reduce frustration. It is the next big benchmark in my life. Whether it’s cleaning up or mass simplification, I’m running 1000 MPH towards it.