Life has been a little different for me lately.
I’ve written a bunch about my shift work and how that’s changed my day to day. Working fewer hours, having blocks of four days off at a time. I think it’s what work/life balance is meant to resemble. For me, it’s eased an incalculable amount of stress. It’s a very big deal, and it’s straight up made my life better. The other part of the equation is money. I’m earning more money, and it’s incrementally showing me just how many ways in which low income earners stack inconveniences and hardships atop each other. Nothing revolutionary, I’ve just been blind to it.
A very obvious outcome is that I’ve bought a lot of things lately. I’m not even talking toys, but upgrades to things in my life that’ve fallen into disrepair or at least diminished efficacy. I’ve been keeping this note on my phone listing things I need, and things I want. I hadn’t checked in a while, but looking yesterday, I crossed three or four things off. My bike has been repaired and maintained. It has all the necessary safety gear. I bought a new mp3 player to replace my dead iPod. I replaced my five year old speakers that often only played from one channel. All of this took money. If I hazarded a guess, I’d say I’ve probably spent over a grand since changing jobs, just on little life upgrades. Consequently, things have been more convenient, enjoyable, I’m stressing less about constant negotiations and workarounds, and it’s easing tensions in my life. All of these things cost money and time for research, they’re paying off.
Here’s an example. I was in the kitchen this morning. I had my mp3 player in hand, Bluetooth earbuds in. I turned on a track, and my girlfriend asked me to fill a bottle of water for her. I obliged, put down the mp3 player, grabbed her bottle, filled it, and handed it back. I then picked up my mp3 player and carried on my merry way. If this sounds unremarkable, it both is and isn’t. It’s not even an ad for Bluetooth technology. It’s a minuscule convenience in one small moment. I could easily and quickly drop what I was doing. I didn’t have some bulky player connected to a think tangle of wires, that I’d then have to cram into a pocket so it could move with me, or otherwise put down the entire thing. As long as my player was within a certain radius I didn’t even need to drop what I was doing to do something else. I accomplished a tiny tiny task with virtually no effort. I had more capacity to do things, because the task was simplified by a slight degree. It’s very unlikely to be the last time I have a similar convenience, and this is just one device. I’ve improved a host of tools in my life lately, and each of them make a multitude of things better. It’s an exponential growth in my quality of life, and money made it possible.
I very much don’t think my message here is “let’s all hoard wealth and live easier”. What I’ve noticed, is that money eases burdens, and the difference between easing these burdens is not as costly as you’d think. What did I say I’d spent? $1000 or so? In the grand scheme of things, $1000 is not much, but it’s helping me navigate life more fluidly. How many people couldn’t afford to spare that $1000 for unnecessary, but nice things? If $1000 can help, what could $2000 do? How much easier would that make some people’s lives? $5000? $10,000? It shames me to say it, but $10,000 does not seem like a significant amount of money when we’re talking about totally changing someone’s life. For some people, that’s just a portion of what they’d spend on a desired extravagance. How much does a new high end car cost? A lot more than $10,000.
I’m not especially wealthy, and if I lost 10,000 I’d be frustrated, angry maybe. However, it wouldn’t significantly change my life. I’d still be able to afford my everyday costs. I’d have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, clothing to take care of me over the winter months. It wouldn’t heavily impact future needs. I certainly wouldn’t be destitute. For others, $10,000 could totally change their lives. It would turn things upside down, ease stresses, and help prevent compound stresses. They have a habit of stacking up, where one thing impacts another, which has a knock on effect to other areas. Problems create more problems, and the fewer problems you have, the fewer problems you will have. Sure, mo money mo problems, but there’s a large threshold before money really starts becoming a problem. $10,000 isn’t it.
So if $10,000 wouldn’t really impact my life, what about people who do earn a lot of money? What about billionaires? If Bill Gates gave away $100,000,000,000, he’d still have $7,000,000,000. That’s 10,000,000 allotments of $10,000. That’s ten million families whose lives could be eased, and he’d still have more money than most could spend in a lifetime. The only reason I’m picking Gates in this example is because his net worth recently came up in public conversation. I’m not saying Gates should be giving money directly to people (there’s probably a way to make that money have an even higher overall yield for public good), but it’s a simple example. One person could make ten million people’s lives easier. That’s massive.
Money is a lot of things. There were probably ten thousand paths this entry could have gone down. This was only one. All I know is that my path forward has been made a lot easier lately, and it didn’t take much.