You can’t experience true financial freedom if you constantly desire more stuff. By contentment, I don’t mean just accepting your lot in life and learning to live with it. Contentment is more of an attitude of satisfaction with our situation. No matter the situation, be it extreme poverty or wealth, there isn’t the urge to obtain material things.
It’s a good thing to be content with what you have without the desire to gain more. Of course, taken to the extreme it can mean you don’t achieve very much. There’s a fine balance between being content and being lazy. We should have the drive to pursue our passions, but we should also be content with what we have.
I lived in Suva, Fiji for a few months. I used to travel on the bus (boy was that an experience!). Some rundown city buses had reggae music blaring with a heavy drumbeat. Like many cities in any country in the world, most people seemed glum. Yet, just an hour out of Suva, in small towns, most people looked happy.
If you look at poor people from third world countries you might feel sorry for them, but many of these people seem very happy. Why are they happy when they have so little? It’s usually because of simple living. Without the stresses of trying to get ahead, and other things that consume our lives, we can enjoy life in its simplicity.
Not having a burning desire for material things can lead to an increased enjoyment of life. It’s an assumption to think that people who are living simply aren’t enjoying life. You don’t need to have certain possessions or experiences to be happy. A lot of people enjoy spending money. But you can also enjoy not spending money or saving money (no, it’s not a sickness!).
Saving money isn’t going to make you rich. But saving money helps discipline you in controlling money rather than it controlling you. You will also develop the bargain hunting skills needed when looking for investment opportunities or big ticket items.
Having a priority of saving money helps eliminate unnecessary desires in your life that aren’t helpful to reaching your goals. For example, for many years we were quite happy driving a beat up old van. Why, when we could afford to get a new one? Well, that’s all we needed. I didn’t really care what people thought of me. If you looked at our spending habits, you might think we were poor. We were very careful how and when we spent money. If you focus on saving then everything is filtered through that and needs to be justified. Is it a need? No, well put it down and walk away.
The desire for things is never really satiated. When you get one thing you will eventually want something bigger or better. Those who become wealthy desire more. They don’t suddenly feel like they achieved the goal and that’s it. If the goal was to become wealthy, then where does it stop? Unless their goal was something beyond just gaining money, then they won’t be satisfied and carry on accumulating. They are rarely content with what they have.