Every year, at the end of January, I sit down to think about the money related life lessons of the previous year. Here goes the 2018 edition. Here is what I have to tell you after 2018.

  1. No matter how much money you make, you might -and I really want to say, you will, at least at times- feel like you will never have enough. This thought does not always materialize itself in the “give me more” form. Sometimes, it is subtler, like “I would like to get my kid piano lessons” or “I would like to buy a thank you gift for this person” but in the end, most of us will never be in any Jeff Bezos position and will have to constantly balance our needs and desires with our actual income. My advice is to either accept this discrepancy, keep looking for more money to satisfy your wants or give up the desires and decide what is minimum necessary is you really need in your life. Choose a path and commit to it; try to avoid the dissatisfaction that comes with wanting more but not being able to get it.
  2. Your quality of life can be improved if you make some changes to where and how you live. Money does not have to be a struggle or a source of stress. This, of course, assumes that you want to live in a specific type of a house or environment. Think about this: Are you living in a place that is too expensive for you? Are you paying too much because you want to be in this neighborhood, this state or this house? I thought about this a lot last year and I am pretty sure that my future is somewhere in Florida and not in Los Angeles because what I want simply cannot be achieved in LA given my current income and lack of desire to work more.
  3. However, this is not the only way to go. For me, having a big house on a river with a pool and being close to family is more important than many other things. For others, living in downtown Los Angeles and pursuing acting is what matters. But you really can’t make any changes if you do not know (1) what matters to you and (2) how much it costs. Too many people live in an imaginary future world that is just not happening. No, making $100k per year will not result in your buying a million-dollar house. It just does not work like that. Figure out what you want, put a price tag on it and see how you can make it happen. Look for alternatives to make it happen.
  4. Time is important. Your time is really important. Others will ALWAYS try to claim it. And the better you are at getting things done, the more they will come back because you can do it. So. Don’t get mad at them. Get mad at yourself. Say no more often. Don’t get involved unless you really want to do so. Spend your time reading, biking or doing whatever you enjoy doing. Say no to unnecessary obligations. And pay people to do the stuff you don’t want to do so you can free some of your time, if you can.
  5. Finally, figure out how you can save some money. Have a little bit (or a lot) of a cushion in case things happen. Too many of my friends and clients have gone through and divorces last year. Don’t feel like you have to be stuck because of your financial situation. Have some money in savings, even if it means that you have to stop buying things now. The ability to do something in the future that you do not even know about today is worth more than the thrill of whatever is siting right now in your Target shopping cart. Give yourself some breathing room.