On wealth (or lack thereof)

I can’t weigh in personally, since I chose a career field that typically does not result in wealth. But I found this Quora link (via APW) that discusses  if getting rich is worth it. Comments mention two points that seem obvious, but are also useful:

Happy people are often still happy when they become millionaires. Unhappy people are often still unhappy when they become millionaires.

and

Yes, being wealthy is worth it.  But without a sense of purpose, being rich could turn you into a very different, isolated and perhaps awful person.

I think I’d be a pretty happy millionaire, based on the first idea. I’d be a bit more concerned about the second, but there are a lot of things I want to do and a bunch of causes I want to support.

LearnVest’s take (yet again, another website I love) is that a $50,000 annual salary is enough to make you happy. They do say that living somewhere with a higher cost of living increases that number (which is my situation). And I’m thinking that some people have interests that cost more than others.

I’m thinking I’m closer to that original $75,000 number stated in the article, at least right now. After I pay off my credit cards (one left, and should be by no later than June), I can put all of that money into my IRA every month. (When I’ve done this for a full year next year, I’ll hit the max contribution amount.) I already save a good chunk each month, though I’ll likely be using some of it for the trip to Portland in April, which I know I’m not supposed to do…

LearnVest recommends that you only put 20% of your income toward priorities, which includes paying off debt and increasing your savings. I’ll just have a very low-interest car loan left. I think I end up putting about 30% toward these priorities, but I’m behind.

In the past few years, as my salary has slightly increased (after an initial substantial cut–I hated consulting), I’ve generally worried about the same amount. When I took this new job in November, I got a pretty good bump, plus practically zero commuting cost (I can walk to work). I noticed I’m able to allocate the extra money to places I knew I needed to send it in the past, and it’s felt good to see the debt shrinking and savings growing.

It’s still a foreign feeling to see my checking account in the higher triple digits after paying rent–I’m used to it being around $100, give or take. It’s definitely a comforting change, though I now worry when I have $400 in my account–that’s now when I feel like I’m getting low. Which is a good thing! I’m hoping the numbers increase eventually, of course, and with age comes more costs and responsibilities, thus more cushion. But it’s progress in a very short amount of time. Something to be proud of, I think.

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