How much money is "enough"?

In my post the other day, I detailed my five biggest financial pitfalls. Number one was this:

“Things will be better when…” syndrome. Katherine commented: “I read a study somewhere that most people think they will be financially comfortable when they reach that next $10K bracket of income. I am no exception- I catch myself thinking that all the time!” I identify with that like crazy. It’s a trap that can keep you from ever really learning to be satisfied and secure right where you are.”

As I shared yesterday, our income has grown significantly since we started our lives as a young married couple. For the first few years after I starting freelancing, my income goals were simply “earn more than last year.” Finally it got to the point where we were earning what I’d always thought would be a very solid, very comfortable household income, but I found myself wanting to earn still more.

I’ve asked many people, especially self-employed folk like myself, “How do you know when you are earning enough?” and often get some version of this response: “When I have enough for everything I need and a little left over for what I want.” But that doesn’t really answer the question, does it? I’m sure most of us can answer that health insurance is a need, but is a low-deductible plan with fabulous wellness coverage a need or a want? Food is a need, but is organic produce a need, or a want? Let’s say travel is a “want”: are we talking road trips to a neighboring state or summers in Greece? And so on. Of course, each person’s answer to those questions is personal and unique, but it definitely influences your own definition of “enough”.

I am trying to remind myself that right now, we have enough. Enough to cover our basic needs, many wants, and some left over for the future. Honestly, going by that definition, we had enough 10K ago, and 10K before that. But I still feel the pull for more – a nicer house, a fatter retirement account, more family vacations. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to earn, but I also don’t want to work ever harder to accumulate money just for the sake of having “more”. If it’s not actually creating a happier life, what’s the point?

I know a lot of this is highly personal, but I’m curious if you have your own definition of “enough.” What does “enough” look like to you? Are you there yet, or are you thinking it’s still around the corner…you know, when you hit that next 10K or so?

This is the third post in a series about money and finances here at The Happiest Mom. You can find part 1 – my five financial pitfalls – here, and part 2 – all about creating financial goals – here.


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