Money… a necessary evil? by Marie Nicole

In our most difficult financial period my husband would constantly say; “We need to take money out of the equation!” So we made it our mission to work out how we could live in a way that did not depend so heavily on money, as that was the one thing (other than time) we just seemed not to be able to obtain enough of. It was an ongoing dilemma – the more we had the more we needed. We are both educated people with skills that allow us to earn incomes that are more than decent and yet we still seemed to never have enough money – why?

I believe that as a society we have let this necessary evil take over our lives. Take food for instance. We work more to earn more, spend more time away from our homes and families in order to make more, but are unable to do the simplest things like maintain a vegetable garden that can provide us with the most basic need. We need to buy food. But to get food that not only resembles the vegetable we were after but also has the nutrient content that our bodies require, we have to pay more for it. Alternatively we spend more on supplements to make up for the nutrients our food was lacking, or medical costs to try to undo the physical affects that not eating well has on our bodies. In the end our cost for obtaining this basic need rises while our quality of life diminishes. (Interested in further reading on this topic? Read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food)

The same could be said for exercise. In order to make the money required to live the lifestyles we lead, we often sit for hours at a computer as well as in a car, bus or train to get to our work place. All the while in unnatural environments with a carriage full of other commuters chasing the dream of having more or simply making do. To compensate for this we have to try and fit exercise into our day too, which for most people means joining a gym, going to boot camp or the like. Again this increases our cost of living and again we have to work more to earn the money required to sustain our chosen lifestyle.

Choosing to work for yourself can mean that you have more control over your time and where you work, but there is still the danger of over committing yourself financially. I know, I have been there. It then seems inevitable that you end up taking on work to simply earn the money required to sustain your lifestyle, or in this case business practice, rather than doing what inspires you and feeds your soul as well as lining your pocket with enough income to live a modest but fulfilling life.

So what’s the answer? Take money out of the equation? Or at least enable yourself to live in a way that is not so dependent on money for every little aspect of living.

In your business, there are a few simple things you can start doing right away:

(i)  Assess where you can decrease your overheads, the less you are committed to outlaying on an ongoing basis the more of what you earn can stay in your pocket or be put towards growing without the need for constant personal injections or borrowing.

(ii)Barter, offer your services or goods in return for someone else’s. This way you get your product/service out in front the market place without the need to spend on advertising and you receive something you need for yourself or your business without the actual monetary expense in return.

(iii)      Focus on doing what you love, in order to sustain your career for the long haul you really do need to enjoy what you are doing.

As for my personal life, I try to take more pleasure in the little things. Make my home a place I retreat to rather than wanting to escape from. There are many ways to turn a holiday into an adventure without involving 5 stars in your accommodation. Living a beautiful life is not something only those with loads of money flowing through their bank account can enjoy. The irony is that there are many people with ‘money’ that seem more dissatisfied with life and appear to simply be unhappy. The old saying that money can’t buy you happiness is often the reality. For most people in order to sustain high cash inflows, there is an equal amount of life-stress that flows into their lives too. The higher expectations they have of what they should be able to obtain with their hard earned money, can also lead to the art of engaging in simple pleasures being lost.

In making the time to grow some of our own food, moving more, living an active life, continually assessing all aspects of our lifestyle and where we spend money unnecessarily, working out ways to reduce needless spending on simple necessities or extravagant luxuries for short term pleasure, taking the road less travelled when holidaying, enjoying the memories created by this and stories we get to share afterwards is how we have enabled ourselves to enjoy more without over committing financially.

Back to the daily grind of work – need it be a daily grind? Wouldn’t you rather find fulfillment by doing what you do for the love of it, enjoying what you have, being true you to yourself and your values… living a lifestyle that enables you make money a less important factor in the equation? An enriched life shared with the ones you love. I know I would… we’re doing our best to do so right now. And you can too!

by marie-nicole

PS. To get you started on growing your own food pick up the current issue of Living Magazine for my DIY Design contribution on making a miniature greenhouse from a recycled window.

Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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