Money will only solve those problems that not having money creates.
People usually blink back at me the first time I share this with them. It seems too obvious to qualify for “wisdom”.
For me, though, it’s freaking profound. The problems that ate me up during the first half of my life… when I was lost, directionless and kept ending up sleeping on people’s couches (because the business world kept spitting me out) (and my girlfriends kept leaving cuz I was such a loser)…
… were all specifically related to not having enough money to get a toehold in life.
Rent was a problem. Getting a speeding ticket was a major financial blow that could crush my entire budget. Any adventure that required new clothes or new equipment or a long trip was completely out of the question.
And that was okay for a while… I fancied myself a carefree bodhisattva living off the land (so to speak) while cruising through the culture unblemished by having to bow to the The Man.
Then it got real old, real fast. And I realized it was time for me to find my place in the world, and go for the gusto.
At that point, I finally understood that not having enough dough to cover the basics (and the fundamental luxuries that made life worth living, like concert tickets) was a major sticking point.
The answer, for me, was to figure out the age-old wisdom behind the professional’s concept of a “nut” — that specific amount of cash necessary each cycle to allow you to operate without worrying about missed payments or sudden expenses.
Everyone’s nut is different. But it’s basically your rent, food, transportation and other bills, along with a certain allowance for clothes and whatever else you need to live your life. Including dating costs, bowling league fees, piano lessons, a night at the opera, whatever tweaks your notion of a good month.
Most folks never figure this out. They lurch from paycheck to paycheck, regarding each incoming expense as an alien invasion (”What? Another phone bill?”).
Saving any money for a rainy day is out of the question. (Americans are among the most clueless savers in the world.)
I’ve been there. Floating just above the baseline of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (that infamous low-end list of necessities, like food, shelter and safety)… so I technically qualified as a civilized person.
However, the constant desperation of being one lost paycheck away from living out of my car again kept me from daring to dream beyond whatever fun I could squeeze out of a weekend binge on cheap booze and easy virtue.
So money was constantly on my mind.
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