This summer I went on a crazy little travel adventure through Europe for two conference crammed in ten days. Somewhere along the way I lost my wallet. I still have no idea where it is. Luckily it only had a few dollars, a few euros and a NYC metro card in it. All my other bank cards, driver’s licence and my passport I kept separate, so not really any harm done. However, I did need a new wallet, so I quickly bought one at a Polish busstation a.k.a. fancy shopping mall. It says: “all you need is less”, after just losing mine (and I never lose stuff) I thought that was a nice ironic reminder not to be too upset about the lost one.
However, money is a tricky thing. It isn’t really something we talk about a lot. At least I don’t. But now I am sort of in a limbo phase in my life without a lot of income, I need to make careful choices about where each euro goes. Of course I wish I had an endless source of money. I know I wouldn’t spend it all, but it would be so nice to give some away to people who need it more than I do. Lot’s of interesting studies by the way about philanthropy and whether you feeling good about giving something away is really considered altruism or not. Anyways, that was not the point I was trying to make in this blog today. I’ve been a bit sick, that effects my thinking. Thoughts go all over the place.
Back to what I was initially talking about. Money. In our home we often say: “tijd is geld”, which means that time is money. If something takes a lot of time, it’s definitely going to cost someone a lot of money too. Makes sense right? But it can also mean a different thing I realised today. Sometimes you need time to get money. Hard work requires investment but will eventually pay off. So sometimes you need time in order to eventually get some money.
But is money really making you happy? This morning I read an article in the Dutch news about people who win the lottery. Turns out that being a billionaire doesn’t change your level of happiness. Most people give some of the money away, but keep their jobs and don’t really change their lives at all. It’s nice to have some more security, to pay off that mortgage or student debt a bit faster, but other than that, nothing major changes.
All you need is less. These past few months I have become more aware about my money. I spend most of it on my health insurance, travelling, donations and just small daily purchases. Nothing big or special, but those are the things that I find important. I hope someday I will have a more stable source of income, yet I also know that just striving for more and more money won’t satisfy me. It doesn’t really satisfy anyone I believe. So I join the Proverbs writer in his prayer. I don’t really need to be rich at all, but also protect me from having to worry about not being able to take care of myself. The art is to find a balance somewhere in between.
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.”