I do not think of myself as someone who knows about money. After reading some of the articles on here, I have realized that I never really “planned” my finances and have lived just day to day. I thought about it a lot and reached the conclusion that there are broadly two types of people when it comes to spending money.
The Careful Investor:
My ex-roommate, who happens to be one of my closest friends, an engineer, is very good with money. In discussions with him, phrases like “maximizing potential” and “getting my money’s worth” are commonly heard. He is 34, makes 6 figures, worth 600k to 1 million (my guesstimate). However, any decision that involves money, means weeks of research, tons of discussions and once that money is spent, a period of panic with a hint of regret about spending that money. He does some charity work but very calculated. He will also gift people, and usually the value of the gift is calculated based on what sort of gift they have given him in the past. In the end, he has done very well, his net worth has increased, but at the cost of countless panic attacks and sleepless nights. He is rich sure, he is happy too, but is his day to day life easier? I don’t know.
The Naïve Spender:
On the other hand is my other friend, a doctor, makes more than most people I know. But very generous. It is common for him to get calls from random people from the small town that he is from, asking for money, and him rarely saying no. He has significant credit card debt because he had to help his parents with a significant amount of money and paid minimum on his cards for a while but still continuing living like a boss. Because of his debt, his net worth is thousands of dollars in the negative direction. BUT, you will never see him freak out, being calm is his response to everything. Some may think that he is rather naïve towards life and somewhat not so serious. But he is one of the most content and happy people that I know. Which makes me question, does money really make you happy and comfortable if you have to think, plan and freak out every time you have to spend it?
It is very interesting to hear the two talk. The rich guy always says that the doctor lives in a fairytale, where everyone helps everyone else without expecting anything in return, money comes without any planning, something always works out and in that tale, one doesn’t have to prepare for rainy days. The doctor, on the other hand, says that being content has nothing to do with how much money one has, every one has a good side, one should believe in the good in people, and you do your part of helping people while keeping your expectations low. He will usually say something like “in the end, everyone dies and leaves all the wealth behind, so why save? Money is for making today count”.
In the end, it is subjective. What makes one happy might be knowing that one has a big chunk of money in the bank, while another person might find more happiness in sharing what they have and taking life day by day as it comes. The doctor will likely never be rich, but definitely a lot happier.