Does Earning More Really Lead to a Better Life?
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In the personal finance space, there is a common disagreement about which is better to meet your goals: reducing your expenses or earning more money.
This argument usually comes up when people are discussing debt repayment or catching up on retirement. I’ll be honest with you; typically I’m in favor of earning more over spending less.
The reason is that over the last few years, I’ve really cut out a lot of my spending. There used to be times when I’d go to the mall just for fun on the weekends and always come home with an article of clothing. These days I can go an entire year without buying anything new.
Because I’m not willing to cut out any more expenses, my only answer when it comes to saving more for money goals is to earn more. However, does earning more always lead to a better quality of life?
The Pros to Earning More
There are certainly pros to earning more. I mean, can you think of anyone who doesn’t want more money in their bank accounts? When you earn more, you get an extra sense of security. You don’t have to waver so much when it comes to purchases. You can feel set and secure knowing that your retirement accounts are filling up and that you can finally afford to travel without feeling guilty about it.
When you earn more, especially as a breadwinner in your family, you feel much safer knowing there will be food on your table, that you have the ability to buy your kids the things that they want rather than only the things they need.
While all of this is great and it’s a wonderful feeling to earn more and see the numbers rise in your bank account, it does come with a cost.
The Cons to Earning More
It’s hard to imagine that there would be cons to earning more money, but there are. If you work a traditional 9-5 job, the way to make more money would be to ask for a raise or to find a new job that pays more. Sometimes the transition is seamless, but sometimes it can be quite difficult.
For example, getting a new job is great but if that job requires you to move your family across the country, it can be extremely stressful. You could also ask for a raise or apply for a higher position, but those jobs might take valuable time away from your family if you’re expected to work longer hours. The other way to earn more money is to start working on the side. Or, if you’re self-employed, you can raise your rates, or add on new clients and services.
I’ll be honest; sometimes I can get so focused on earning more that I completely forget to take care of myself in the process. I can work really long hours without giving up, but eventually after a few days in a row of that pace, I’m grumpy and overall not the best person to be around. I had a week like this last week and was so overly stressed I couldn’t even handle going to the grocery store. I was so wound up and frustrated that I was mad at everyone in the parking lot and everyone driving their grocery carts in my way.
Essentially, I’ve noticed that sometimes I can get a little too intense about earning more. Even though I do it for my family or to reach a certain goal, I’ve learned it’s not really worth it if I don’t get to spend time with them or if the time I do spend with them is spent being overly stressed or annoyed.
So, while I’m still in favor of earning more over cutting expenses, I do think it’s important to realize that you need to do so in moderation. It’s fine to work the extra hours for a certain period of time to meet a goal but then scale back. It’s something I’m constantly working on, finding that balance between income and time devoted to various work tasks.
How about you? What do you think is more important: spending less or earning more? If you’re focusing on earning more, how is it making your life better? What do you love the most? If you’ve decided to focus on spending less, how has that decision improved your life?