“Simple money questions I ask myself”

by J. Money - Published August 10, 2018

money pondering
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Check out this email I got in response to our post on Mr. Wendal the other day.

So many great questions to reflect on!

Money is a tool, something we need, and has only what value society ascribes to it. Too often, we forget this.

Society, as a whole, doesn’t always remember to value all life, or even all humans. Society is made of the spiritually conscious and the spiritually unconscious. When the conscious ones spread their love to humanity, through good thoughts and good deeds, the love grows, and reaches more and more of humanity. And yes, it awakens some too, who can spread yet more love.

So, my thoughts on money are simple. I ask these questions:

  • Why do I want money?
  • How much do I need to live a simple, yet comfortable life, with plenty of food, a home, and some for enjoyment– vacations, hobbies, some nights out?
  • Where am I being wasteful?
  • What might I do to be more frugal?
  • Am I giving enough of my time, talents, and monetary support to the place I receive spiritual nourishment?
  • Am I helping those less fortunate?
  • Am I being a good example for my children? Teaching them how to use money wisely?
  • And equally important, do they understand the value of recreation and a work life balance?

Money is not something to be chased after, because, as I mentioned, it has no intrinsic value, and we are much more than materialistic beings who spend money and buy a plethora of useless things just because we can.

We may think society is shallow but society is made of people, all of us. As a people, we need love and awareness. To remember that we are spiritual beings and not mindless creatures blindly chasing after stuff.

And it begins with you and I.

I love that last part – “To remember that we are spiritual beings and not mindless creatures blindly chasing after stuff.” And I take “spiritual” here to mean more “introspective/conscious” than religiousy, although that certainly plays a role too…

What a great set of questions, right? How happy would you be with your own answers to these? They’re more for deep thought and life pondering than a quick “quiz”, but I thought I’d share my gut answers to them anyways to help get the juices turning…

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Why do I want money? So I don’t have to think about money anymore! I want to focus more time doing all the other things in your list of questions here!

How much do I need to live a simple, yet comfortable life, with plenty of food, a home, and some for enjoyment– vacations, hobbies, some nights out? Roughly $5,000/mo which is currently where we’re hovering at right now. Could probably even be fine around $3,000-$4,000/mo, but there’s more in my family than just me ;)

Where am I being wasteful? Food maybe? We do spend a lot on it and not always best at using up every last item… We also tend to not coupon as much, although we do pay attention to deals.

What might I do to be more frugal? See above… And also my future post on what I’m learning from tracking my *want* purchases every day! (At least I’m assuming that’s where the end result is going, haha…)

Am I giving enough of my time, talents, and monetary support to the place I receive spiritual nourishment? Not as much as I’d want, but I’m getting there! Started implementing a $20/mo giving goal last year to all the different organizations I believe in (shockingly, automating your donations works as well as saving money!) and I just stated volunteering my time at a new organization  too. Something I haven’t done in yearrss, outside of helping people with money here in our community… Why does not getting paid for stuff feel so good???

Am I helping those less fortunate? Trying! A comment in that same Mr. Wendel post (2nd one down) sparked an even bigger flame in me thinking about the “purpose of life,” and if it really is just about helping those around us as much as possible… Can you imagine if that’s all any of us did day in and day out?? I don’t know how our finances would look, but our world would surely be in a better spot! Haha…

Am I being a good example for my children? Teaching them how to use money wisely? I hope so! We talk about money just about every day, and they’re starting to spend their own piggy bank savings on things to get a good sense of the value of a dollar now… So far they really like yard sales, and yet still really really like Target too?! Which I admit is a hard one to hate – adults can’t even crack that code ;)

And equally important, do they understand the value of recreation and a work life balance? Definitely – especially the latter. It was because of my boys that I got my own work/life balance in check, and I make sure to thank them daily for it and be much more present in their lives. Now they see my eyeballs more than they do my laptop!

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So off first glance we’re well on track with a lot of these, but still got some good tweaking to go.

And again, not questions you just answer 1-2-3 and then move on with your life! Try to really ponder these over the weekend and see if your actions/money are aligned with where you want them to be too. And don’t feel bad if they’re not! We all go off track and need a re-alignment every now and then… The “going off” part is the easier of the two ;)

Big thanks to Kristin for shooting this over and allowing me to share with everyone today, and I hope they tied you over until Monday. Be well!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cherie August 10, 2018 at 8:27 am

This is great! The key to donating money and time is to think about what what issues you really care about and what issues affect you and then finding organizations you are excited about. Also, next time you get a guilt trip about donating, use it as a chance to think about contributing time or money to something related. For example, every time I go to the pet store, there is a screen that pops up about donating to their foundation. You could feel guilty every time or make a decision to donate that isn’t well thought out. Or you could take it as an opportunity to research good organizations helping animals and think about how you can help animal related causes. People canvassing on the street. Coming across homeless people. These are all chances to connect with your humanity rather than turn a blind eye but also to consider what makes sense for you. Maybe your approach is to give money to any homeless person you encounter. Maybe your approach is to support a local food bank. Maybe your approach is to get involved in your community to solve the issue locally. But the key is to make it a fun thing where you get to think about the world you want to see and how you can help get things there. It is actually pretty fun! Maybe keep a list of cool organizations. But basically find a way to make it fun or meaningful or to make it feel like something you really want to do.

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2 J. Money August 10, 2018 at 11:01 am

YES TO ALL OF THIS!!!

Particularly –> “The key to donating money and time is to think about what what issues you really care about and what issues affect you and then finding organizations you are excited about.”

100% agree. Anytime I used to think about “charity” I’d naturally not feel one way or the other, and thus why I always sucked at it. But as soon as I found organizations and PEOPLE with real life faces and problems that tugged at me, it was a game changer. I just had to be *open* and pay attention more in order to realize it was the same “charity” as other people talk about! You don’t care until you care!

Also this –> “Every time I go to the pet store, there is a screen that pops up about donating to their foundation. You could feel guilty every time or make a decision to donate that isn’t well thought out”

That’s one of my latest rules! Forcing myself to say “yes” to donate anytime asked no matter what now, like at those screens/etc. I hated always feeling bad so I started giving $1.00 everywhere, and just this morning upped it to $2.00 when paying our water bill :) Felt great! (And one less decision to have to make too, haha… I do the same with tipping, I decided to give 20% no matter what so I never have to think about it again :))

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3 Zach August 10, 2018 at 9:31 am

Thanks for sharing.

I’m going to answer these and ask that my wife does the same thing over the weekend. Over the last few months I’ve really realized how important it is that we are on the same page or at least aware of what the other is thinking. It’s so much easier when we’re both pulling in the same direction. It only took us ~7 years of marriage to get (somewhat) on the same page with regards to retirement saving. Better late than never!

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4 J. Money August 10, 2018 at 11:03 am

Excellent idea!

Are you going to answer them separately and then compare, or try to do at the same time?

I vote for separately so you get better chance of true answers as well as a good laugh ;)

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5 Mr August 10, 2018 at 9:54 am

The “helping those less fortunate” really resonates with me. We didn’t do any of it till we were almost FIRE, and just established a 25k donor advised fund at Vanguard. If the math works out we’ll be able to donate 1k per year from that fund for a very, very long time.

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6 J. Money August 10, 2018 at 11:09 am

Heyyy – that’s cool!!! Love that it means recurring gift giving!

I hear lots of great stuff with the donor advised funds, and most people in our community go though Vanguard as well. The only thing I wish is that you could give it to anyone you want whether they’re a 501(c)3 company or not :( I get much more impacted by those I meet in real life I want to help vs organizations, although of course they do amazing work as well.

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7 Torrie August 10, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Great questions! And I think $5000/month would be the sweet spot for us too, though we’re not there yet! I think it’s good to ponder these “big” questions every so often–otherwise it’s far too easy to forget why we’re doing what we’re doing and get sidetracked or unfocused. (I have to make sure to ask these kinds of questions regularly as a parent too, otherwise I’ll get totally bogged down in the daily grind and forget about what it’s all about!)

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8 J. Money August 10, 2018 at 6:12 pm

Oh yeah!! But luckily kids call you out on things and the most simplest of questions can snap you back to reality :) I remember my son once asking me why I’m always on the computer and it killed me :(

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9 Angie Pannkuk August 10, 2018 at 6:24 pm

That’s great!
My goal is to give 20+ percent of my income away to charity this year. My long term goal is to give 90% away and live off 10 percent.

The more you give away…the wealthier you become.

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10 J. Money August 13, 2018 at 6:21 am

90% would be amazing!! If this blog is still going on when you hit that, I want an email please! :)

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11 Ms. Fiology August 11, 2018 at 12:35 am

I think you nailed it when you talked about finding purpose.

These are really great questions to answer but the more philosophical ones like am giving enough, helping others, and being a good example to my children can be solved when one is living their purpose!

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12 Kyle @ NYPFGuy August 11, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Ask myself a lot of these similar questions everyday. Question 1 is great for whenever you make a big money decision to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

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