5 Money Truths That Aren't Always Obvious

by David Ning on 22 February 2012 10 comments

One of the beautiful things about life is that there are always pleasant surprises waiting to be discovered. Even with the sometimes mundane topic of money, there are many revelations to be had. Here are five such money truths that aren't necessarily obvious. (See also: 10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash)

Always Trying to Make More Money Is the Wrong Pursuit

The majority of us can name a few reasons why we want more money. Having the freedom to spend more time with our families, providing a comfortable environment for our kids, or having a comfortable retirement are just a few of the real motivations people have to earn more.

Yet, the way most of us try to make more actually undermines what we are trying to achieve because we always pour more hours into our money-making opportunities. Will you spend more time with your family if you work late into every weeknight? Will you be able to provide a comfortable environment for your child if you are always exhausted? If you spend all your time sitting in front of a computer for decades, do you think your health will hold up for a comfortable retirement?

Drawing the fine line between not working enough and working too much is a personal matter, but do take some time to make that decision, because more money doesn't automatically mean you are going to be better off.

Having Money to Spend Is More Satisfying Than Spending

It's natural to get used to what you already own, but once you spend that cash, it's gone forever. On the other hand, knowing that you have the money to spend is very comforting and will provide you with lasting joy. That's why you should save as much as you can as fast as you can. One day, you will have enough money to quit whenever you want, and that beats owning all those high priced merchandise any day.

The added bonus is that when you save early on and have your money working for you, high-priced merchandise will become pretty affordable too.

The More You Buy, the More You Want to Buy

When our impulses urge us to buy, the seemingly obvious solution is to satisfy that impulse. Yet the more we buy, the more we will want to buy because we end up being subject to the genius marketing efforts of the retail industry when we are out at malls, online stores, and other outlets more often.

This is, of course, a cycle that we can stop if we just start holding out.

Getting Savings When You Shop Doesn't Mean You Saved Money

Have you ever bought anything you don't need just because it was on sale? Even finding an online promotion code for 90% off means you wasted 10% if you didn't need that item in the first place. Retailers play to our emotions often, but we shouldn't repeatedly let them take advantage of us!

Frugal Living Is Actually the Opposite of Sacrificing

Many of us think of living frugally as some sort of a sacrifice. Yes, it's true that you are often making a conscious effort to not buy something you thought you really wanted. But sometimes you are actually giving yourself the opportunity to achieve so much more.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to start my own business. If I was living the high life and had very high monthly expenses, I would never have had the guts to make the leap. And even if I did jump, the pressure of needing to pay for huge expenses right off the bat would probably have adversely affected my business decisions early on.

Fast forward a few years, and I'm making more money than I ever had, which gives me the opportunity to afford luxuries I could only dream possible while I was working the nine to five. Even though I never intend to inflate my lifestyle drastically, the ability to do so is comforting to say the least. And all this because I lived frugally at the beginning. Sacrificing? Hardly.

Not everyone will end up starting their own business, but too many people miss opportunities because they need the income of their current job. You never know when that opportunity will present itself, so it's better to be prepared .

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Meg Favreau's picture

I think that last one is especially important. In my experience, one of the biggest blocks people have when considering living frugally is thinking that their lives won't be as rich because they can't have certain things. But in reality, frugal living is about prioritizing so you get what you really want.

Guest's picture

I love that you mention frugal living being the opposite of sacrificing. When people find out that we buy clothing at thrift stores or pack our lunch every day, they actually feel sorry for us! They THINK that we do those things because we can't afford the "good stuff". The truth is we actually prefer to be frugal/cheap/thrifty. I get far more satisfaction out of a great garage sale steal than I would shopping in the mall any day.

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Drew Custer

I definitely agree with your comment about going crazy about sales. I believe it is a HUGE mistake people make in the name of couponing or a good sale. They believe they will use that certain product later, even if they really don't need it. I definitely don't believe that it's frugal to spend on something just because there is a sale. People should make sure that they can use whatever it is before they use that coupon or go to that sale.

Guest's picture

I've caught myself picking things up that I don't really need just because they're on sale. It seems so good because it's marked down, but even if it's cheaper than normal, it's pointless if you don't really need it.

Guest's picture

It is so true that the more you buy, the more you want to buy. It is easy to get on a never ending cycle of desires. As soon as you get one thing you immediately start working towards the next. Before you know it, you are spending your whole life unsatisfied!

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Carl Lassegue

I think the biggest mistake people make when they shop is try to justify buying something they did not need and will never use by talking about how much they saved on it.

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Thad P

Very well said. So many people seem to believe that more equals better, that more money equals happiness, and never evaluate their core values. When you don't understand what your core values are, you'll never be satisfied.

Guest's picture

Very good article. Your experience is a testament of to the truths of the article also. I shared the same exact experience when I was in college. I worked, went to school, and didn't do much else because I was busy paying off my student loans. I now work as a nuclear engineer and am spreading the word of this kind of living through the E.I. Financial Philosophy which related to this type of thinking. I do work a bit much but on my off time I can pretty much do anything I want.

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Sean H

The more you have, the more you want. The more you want, the more you spend. The more you spend, the more you need. The more you need, the more you have to have.

I am extremely grateful for everything that I have. I don't purchase much and couldn't be happier.

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Guest

When work is a pleasure , life is joy ! When work is duty , life is slavery .(Maxim Gorky , Russian writer )