5 things that are more important than money

by on Nov 9 2012 - 25 Comments

Most people would find a 16+ hour a day, 7 days a week job undesirable no matter how much the pay was. When it comes to making money, there is naturally trade-offs in time and energy. Today I was thinking about how much focus there is on building wealth and “making money” in our society. In reality, though, there are many things that are more important in life than making money. Here are five of them:

1) Relationships

My relationship with my wife is and always will be a top priority for me. It’s much more important than any sum of money. Being there for my friends and family is important for me, and I don’t want my career pursuits to jeopardize that. Both in the good times and the bad, I want to be able to share in those times with my family and friends. I’m sure thousands (maybe tens of thousands?) of books have been written about balancing relationships and work, and it’s a constant struggle to balance the two.

2) Faith

When you put life in perspective, material possessions are nice while you are here but it’s not something that is going to last forever. When you are on your death bed you aren’t going to be thinking about how you wish you had made just a little more money or spent a few more hours at the office. My faith is very important to me and I think it’s important that money never becomes a higher priority than living out my faith.

3) Health

You can’t put a dollar value on good health, which is why the health care reform debate was so intense. Unfortunately health care takes time and resources, so in the end every procedure and pill has a price tag. What I find interesting is when people are upset about expensive premiums on health insurance (which they shouldn’t have to worry about as much anymore with the implementation of Medical Loss Ratio and Health Care Exchanges) despite the fact that insurance is a safety net guaranteeing you care (without going broke) when you get sick.

I nearly died from asthma as a child and spent a few years sitting inside watching all the other kids play out in the snow. But you know what? I think even then I knew that I was lucky just to have the medicine and doctors that keep me healthy. Health is priceless in my opinion.

4) Time

Everything I have mentioned so far can be tied into time: there’s only a limited amount of it, and once it’s gone you can’t have it back. Ironically, time seems to fly when we are having a good time and everything seems to be right in the world; it barely moves when we are going through a tough situation. Time is the great equalizer: no one can purchase more of it! It doesn’t matter how much money you have – you will always have a limited amount of time, and your life can be cut short at any time. Make it count.

5) Freedom

Freedom is a broad word to throw out, but allow me to explain. If you are a slave to your job and income source, is it really worth it? If you are required to be in the office sixty hours a week, answer email at night (from home) and be on-call 24/7, is it really worth the money? I am not proposing a one-size-fits-all answer to this, it’s just something to take into consideration when evaluating whether you are trading too much for that pay check.

Another way to look at it is jobs that offer flexible work schedules. Employees who take these jobs often value the freedom that comes with it just as much if not more than the actual paycheck they are drawing from it. Yet another example is the entrepreneur who has the freedom and control that most corporate workers could only dream of.

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I personally believe that money should be leveraged to help us live a more fulfilling life and I definitely do not frown upon the pursuit of wealth. Yet we still have to deal with the reality that pursuing higher income and additional skills can be demanding of our time and potentially detrimental to our relationships.

Instead of blindly pursuing higher income we should keep in mind the reason why we want to pursue that income. I’m as guilty as anyone of losing sight of the things that are more important than money. Sometimes we need to take a step back and remember why we work in the first place and what our end goals are.

What do you value more than money? What would you add to the list?
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Photo by Raquel Baranow
 

25 comments
Sarah Brooks
Sarah Brooks

Wonderful read!! I definitely value all of those things more than money. Like you said - it's all about balance. You need to make enough money to pay your bills and afford the type of lifestyle you want, but you also need to take time off so you can enjoy your relationship with your spouse, kids, family and friends and enjoy some of your hard-earned money. I always tell myself that you can always make more money. If I don't take an opportunity now because I'd rather be with my family, a new opportunity will come along at another time! Opportunities are everywhere and we don't have to take all of them.

thefroogalstoodent
thefroogalstoodent

Great advice! Money is not the most important thing in life; but having enough money can provide us with the freedom that enables us to pursue these more important things in life. 

moeyshay
moeyshay

Money is nice and helps provide for certain tangible necessities.  However, without the things you mention here, life would be dull, empty, and meaningless.

Bajaj
Bajaj

Great list! But all those are some what related to money. So money is important :)

NateFancher
NateFancher

RIght on. I completely agree. What's interesting is that good financial stewardship should allow us to put these things first. It's when money owns us (instead of the other way around) that we lose perspective on these priorities. Great post!

OutlierModel
OutlierModel

I think you covered everything that I'd mention.  It's easy to forget about what's important during the daily grind.

Beachbudget
Beachbudget

I think those are all extremely important things! One thing that I find a struggle is that you might have to work your ass off to even afford your own health insurance to take care of you because it costs so much to have your own. The stress of having to be able to afford it each month might land you in the doctor's office anyway! 

JustinatTheFrugalPath
JustinatTheFrugalPath

When I hear personal finance pundents saying that you need to work until at least 70, nearly all of these things come to my mind. Just being able to wake up and not worry about having to go to work would be enough for me.

I know that there are people who absolutely love their job. However, sometimes there is a fine line between passion and obsession. How many of the top 100 richest people in the world can actually say their personal life is fulfilling? maybe bill gates and buffet. But who else?

Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

Great reminder of what's mportant. We often take the most important things for granted.

CanadianBudgetB
CanadianBudgetB

Like Lance I don't enjoy overtime but in my career I have no choice. I value everything you pointed out above. I think that we just want to live a comfortable life and set goals to achieve what will give us peace of mind during our life journey. My family is the most important  parts of my life.. you can't put $$ amounts on that. 

Money Life and More
Money Life and More

I'm not a huge fan of jobs that require crazy overtime because I value my personal time to spend time with people I care about.

momoneymohouses
momoneymohouses

I definitely agree that relationships with people should be #1. As that old saying goes, no one says on their death bed "I wish I made more money", but the relationships with people are what's the most important.

TacklingOurDebt
TacklingOurDebt

Excellent post!

 

This part "If you are a slave to your job and income source, is it really worth it? If you are required to be in the office sixty hours a week, answer email at night (from home) and be on-call 24/7, is it really worth the money?" describes mine and my husband's work life prior to 2006. We both worked 60 hour weeks and he was on call as well 24x7. We even worked a lot holidays. Yes we were paid well and we had a nice house and nice cars, but everything else you mention suffered. Things got so bad that my husband developed type 1 diabetes due to too much stress. We both quit. Walked away. In hindsight, the only thing I regret is that we were hasty in our decision. We should have developed a more strategic plan around leaving and then left.

Holly at ClubThrifty
Holly at ClubThrifty

I competely agree with all of these!  Time is by far more important to me than money is.

Veronica @ Pelican on Money
Veronica @ Pelican on Money

You are right on the money with all of these. Lol.. is that a pun? I'm not sure. Time lost = can never be gained back. I'm still trying to figure out how to live my life to the fullest, to be honest it feels like its flying by way too fast.

AverageJoeMoney
AverageJoeMoney

Interesting post. I had a friend who once said, "Do you work for money or does your money work for you?" I look most of the priorities you've laid out above and it seems that money (if it's working to help you achieve the goals) helps make these easier/more fun.

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

I agree with your list and would add education. This is what will make you a good person, able to think, act, be independent, have good judgement. Being always curious to learn new things is very important to me.

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

Nice post DC.  I am actually writing something similar for Monday revolving around time. Money is great and I like to thinkI know a little about it, but it all is nothing compared to the time we have. It's one of the few things we can't buy more of.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Veronica @ Pelican on Money I feel the same way about life going by too fast. It makes me question what im doing with my time and what I would do if I had no constraints like debt, bills, etc!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@AverageJoeMoney I definitely agree with you on that point, Joe. The post was getting long so I actually took out a part where I talked about how money can help free up time and allow us to devote more energy to the things we value and care about.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@RFIndependence Education is a good one! Education really opens up opportunities that wouldn't be available otherwise.