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Thoughts On A Million Dollars By Leslie on December 8, 2011
The other day I was looking over old photos I have on my phone, and came across one I titled “Million Dollar Baby.” This was a good memory of a class project I had while working on my Masters in Marketing at the Simon School of Business.
We named the presentation after one of the most helpful databases we used for data analysis. While reminiscing about this team and project, I got to thinking about business school mindsets and how the goal of many MBA students is to get a high paying job (often in NYC) and earn a million dollars by the age of 30.
Some classmates had explicitly told me this was their goal, but it definitely wasn’t one of mine. And then I wondered… Do I need a million dollars?
And the answer I came up with was most definitely: No.
Sure, a million dollars would be nice. I could pay off our house, finish the student loans, build a very nice emergency fund, and of course use some for fun. It would make life much easier in many regards. But do I need it? Here’s why not:
We’ve made some financial mistakes, the biggest being the student loans, but overall we’ve done a good job of keeping expenses low. We don’t have consumer debt, car payments, or a home equity line.
We have a small house that costs under a hundred dollars in utilities most months. When the “Red Sled” died, we chose a small used car for its safety and price. It just happened as a “buyers bonus” that it has many manual parts, so even though it is 12 years old nothing has broken and it has under a hundred thousand miles on the engine.
Plus it gets great gas mileage. We don’t have smart phones, or expensive cell phone plans, and we don’t have a land-line at all. We both dislike shopping and only buy new clothes when the old ones fall apart. We also don’t have cable television. Because of this, our monthly expenses are pretty low and we don’t need a huge salary to be happy.
“Wow, you must have no fun!” Couldn’t be further from the truth.
Honestly, I don’t miss most of the things we don’t have. Sure a smart phone would be nice, but honestly – our phones work fine. And a car with heated seats and XM radio would be pretty sweet, but Agnes the Toyota gets us from place to place without fail every time.
For fun, we watch movies online, go for walks in the park, play games together, and read together. I’m hardly ever bored, or lacking something to do. I love every day, and wake up excited to start it, even if I don’t wake up early…
But you have to get some stuff!
When we do buy things, (for the kitchen, clothes, furniture, or computer parts for example) we try to buy the best quality we can even if they aren’t the cheapest. We want things that will last a long time, and are functional. (or are used and hand-me-downs that are free.)
It’s because of this mentality that we hardly ever have to replace things, and almost everything we have is used on a regular basis.
The decorations we have are limited and almost all family items. I don’t like dusting, and things get cluttered enough as it is, so we try to keep “stuff” to a minimum. We also only keep as many clothes as will fit in our (small) closet, so if we get something new we toss something old.
I also really enjoy learning how to make things myself, whether its homemade jam, or making a blanket, or even making my own laundry detergent; I get a lot of satisfaction from learning and understanding why things work, what goes in to them, and how they are made.
This might change as I get older, but I even enjoy getting outside, getting dirty gardening, raking leaves, or shoveling snow. There is something very satisfying about it all.
I understand that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and I am not saying it should be. I am saying that when I found out that the grant that funds my salary would likely not be renewed, and I’d be out of a job after this summer, I wasn’t that worried or afraid.
There is also something comforting about the fact that even though I may not have an outside salary, we likely will be fine. We haven’t raised our expenses and thus don’t “need” my salary to stay afloat.
So at the end of the day, I don’t need a million dollars. And I definitely would never sacrifice my time at something I didn’t love to earn a large salary.