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What I'm reading: Why we default to making more money

Three weeks ago, I was driving to Aspen for a weekend on the slopes, and I just could not get my rental car’s Bluetooth to connect to my phone. Some technological advancements, such as the advent of the automobile, iPhone, and Bluetooth, have been wonderful. Others, such as the inability to connect new Bluetooth devices while a vehicle is moving, are total regressions. After fumbling with the touchscreen for 10 minutes, I accepted defeat and switched to one of SiriusXM’s country radio stations.

After a few hits by Eric Church and Morgan Wallen, the radio host took over the airwaves to discuss whatever it is that radio hosts discuss, which, in this case, included an article about “bucket lists” that she had read the night before. To quote the host:

“We all have bucket lists that state the things we want to do before we, you know, kick the bucket. According to the survey in this article that I read, 60% of people say the biggest obstacle to checking off their bucket list is that they don’t have enough money. Amen to that, I need some more money too.”

The host’s remarks confirmed a thought that I’ve had for a while: most of us have things that we want to do and a life we want to live, and most of us believe that the only thing preventing us from making those desires our reality is a lack of money.

But this idea is a lie...

In the absence of strong convictions about what you want from life, you will always default to wanting more money. It’s the lowest common denominator of desire in a society with any semblance of upward mobility. The key to escaping this cycle is first establishing your priorities (family dynamics, geography, lifestyle, whatever), and then figuring out how to get there financially. Our problem is that we tend to let income determine desire.

Jack Raines

Jack Raines


Jack has lived a very different life than mine. He's a 20 something unmarried man with no kids who got rich trading stocks. Listening to him give life advice, feels to me, pretty cringe at times.

Still, I think there's a deep truth to what he's saying.

We certainly live in a culture where we don't know when enough is enough. We just keep mindlessly consuming and trying to climb the social ladder. At some point you have to live the life you want instead of always waiting for tomorrow or working towards the next promotion.

Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way.

As I've made more money and have had more time and opportunity I've found myself wondering "What do I want my life to mean? Is this the path I'm meant to be on?"

This is not a question which can be answered by more money.


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