Why Money Sucks at Solving Problems

The brutal truth is this: Money sucks at solving problems

Real work is not done by piles of money and bureaucratic spending, it is done by talented, caring, competent people who want to make a real difference in the world. The best work those individuals do is to spread their influence to others by creating a movement around an idea.

We really don’t need to be spending more money in todays world, what we really need are more talented, caring, competent people.

This is something that can not be accomplished by throwing millions of dollars around. When you give money to good people who care, it always seems to end up in the hands of those who don’t. The good that is accomplished with the initial investment always ends up being minimized by later spending. So really, I think it is better to spread ideas rather than cash.

But if I was rich then I could finally be happy

Money solves problems for sure, but it sucks at solving the big, existential problems that matter. My financial goals were never to become rich so I could buy stuff I don’t need. It is to make money a non issue in life. What peace I would have if money no longer influenced my decisions! Irrelevant, that is what I want money to become in my life.

Though this idea is a bit utopian and unrealistic. A world where people do the right thing because it is in line with their values and principles and not because they have to be paid or offered external compensation in some form. It is still something to strive for. I like everyone else must deal with financial matters, and make decisions based on finances. But I try to minimize it as much as possible in my life.

How Much Do You Really Need?

Lets be practical. Since the utopian idea does not exist, you need money. But how much? How much will make you happy? Will making $80,000 a year make you more happy than $60,000 a year? What about $60,000 to $30,000? How about becoming a millionaire?

Nobel Lauret and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman talked about the difference between how our experiencing selves, and our remembering selves take on happiness:

“Below 60,000 dollars a year, people are unhappy, and they get progressively unhappier the poorer they get. Above that, we get an absolutely flat line. I mean I’ve rarely seen lines so flat. Clearly… money does not buy you experiential happiness, but lack ofmoney certainly buys you misery”.

The real secret that I always mention is that happiness comes from having a good relationship with others, and those relationships start with the relationship you have with yourself…and now also apparently a $60,000 a year job.

Always Test Your Assumptions

I want to challenge your ideas of what you think make for a happy and a meaningful life. To stop thinking that if only you had more money, it would solve all your problems. Remember, everytime you find yourself on the side of the majority in terms of thought, it is time to pause and reflect. Just because everyone else thinks the world works a certain way does not necessarily mean it does. Theories are assumptions that need to be tested. Don’t subscribe yourself to common wisdom that is based on assumptions like:

  • money solves problems
  • buying things makes for happiness
  • you can only publish your work with an agent/newspaper/art gallery/label
  • You need permission from someone else to do what you want

Test assumptions out for yourself. Prove them to be true by execution and results.