I have a very strange problem, and I actually feel bad even emailing you about it. I make over $250,000 per year, and I have a hard time caring about my financial future. I max-out my 401k, I have $50,000 in the bank, and I can basically afford anything I want. I know this is awful, but I make so much money that I’m kinda annoyed by money. I spend a lot of money, and only save money when I have to. I used to not be this way. I understand if you don’t want to answer this question or write about it in your column, because it’s not exactly a common issue. It’s weird to have this income and not feel satisfied.
Matt I addressed your question in my Indy Star column this week but in case you missed it, I’ll answer it here too. This is an important question, though many will scoff at it. Ignore the commenters (good advice for life), because your question hits a nerve that many feel regardless of their income. Your problem Matt, is that you are expecting money to satisfy you. And I hate to break it to you, but it never will.
“Your money is seeking pleasure, yet your soul has been yearning for satisfaction. You can’t feed a satisfaction hunger with pleasure. You aren’t doing the right thing, you know you’re not doing the right thing, and all the pleasures in the world can’t make this change. Pleasure and satisfaction are very different. Pleasure is buying what you want, often in acquiescence to instant gratification. Satisfaction is the feeling we get when we do something right. You can’t feel satisfied when your actions make it impossible.” (courtesy of the Indy Star)
But being unsatisfied is just the beginning. I’ve seen many in your situation lose everything because they didn’t pay attention to their money and it caught up with them. Take for example the college athlete who ate whatever they wanted but then never changed their habits after they stopped playing. Guess who doesn’t look quite so trim at their 10 year reunion? Habits are hard to break. You may not need to change your habits with your current income but any disruption in the future will catch you off guard and your financial life will suffer the consequences.
“You need to reel your problem in before it’s too late. I have a very simple two-step action plan for you, Matt.
Set goals. You would be sincerely assisted by financial goals, if you had them. Pick a year to try to save $100,000, try to pay off your house in the next five years, or run hard to get your net worth to $500,000 as quickly as possible. You’re bored. I get it. I get bored too. I don’t think you feel like you’ve failed. Goals will give you the opportunity to face the fear of failure.
Declutter. You don’t need all the stuff you have. Get rid of some of it. It’s hard to care about the clothes, home furnishings and toys you have, when there are lots of them. If those things don’t satisfy you, which they clearly don’t, then you will continue to buy new things. Cull your closet, give away your garage, and separate yourself from your stuff. We buy things to feel abundant, but you won’t actually feel abundant until you give some of your things away.” (courtesy of the Indy Star)
You think your problem isn’t that bad and you feel embarrassed about it, but you shouldn’t, you have a terrible problem so go ahead and feel terrible about it. But the good news is your email was one step toward the action you need to solve your problem. So keep up your momentum and take the next step.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.