Yesterday, I was talking to my colleague about my boyfriend’s new job. My colleague asked if he was making more money at this new job. I answered, no, he’s actually making a bit less. My colleague answered something along the lines of, wow, that’s too bad. I said, not at all. We make enough money together. My colleague answered me, you must be making a lot of money.
I tried to explain to him that making a lot of money isn’t the point of what I was trying to explain to him. The point is, we are content with what we have. We make enough money to live in a house, be able to go out once in a while, and go on vacation a bunch of times a year.
To be honest, I find it very sad the way Americans live. A lot of my family and friends are constantly working. They don’t prioritize what is really important: being actually happy, having time for yourself, spending time with the people you care about. Of course, everyone is allowed to have different priorities, but is working all the time, and/or working multiple jobs really making people happy?
I’ve met many many people who don’t save any money and spend all their money on nice things. Good for you that you’re living like a rich person. But you’re not rich. The moment something happens, like your roof leaking or your car breaks down, how are you going to pay for it? For most Americans, that means using your credit card and then paying crazy interest rates because you can’t pay it off right away.
There was a point in my life, a few years ago, where I was working a part-time job and a full-time job at the same time. It was horrible. I’ve also worked several part-time jobs at the same time in the past. Why did I do it? Because I wanted to have more money. I wanted to be able to have all the things I wanted. I barely saved and was always living paycheck to paycheck.
When I moved to the Netherlands, I began working fewer hours. I started prioritizing what was important to me. My health, my happiness, spending time with my boyfriend, visiting my sister in Paris, cooking food from scratch. I used to never eat breakfast. Now I always sit down and have a proper breakfast. I try to savor all my meals. That means my phone is away from the table. I think it’s incredibly rude when people use their cell phones at the table. To me, food is a way of gathering and bonding. You can’t do that when you’re looking at the screen.
I’m not making as much money as I did when I lived in NYC, but I’m so much happier. I can focus on things that are important. My boyfriend and I save money and don’t live paycheck to paycheck. We take time to do the things that make us happy. Quite often, they are completely free. We take bike rides through the countryside, take walks in the forest and visit his family for coffee, etc.
I’m trying to explain to you that you don’t need to have a lot of money or have nice things to feel rich. To me, feeling rich is being contented with what you have. You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for things. There are so many things you can do out there completely for free. Yes, to cycle, you’ll have to make a one-time investment, but if you take care of your bicycle, it’ll last you many many years.
Some free or cheap things you can do: take a bike ride, take a walk around your neighborhood, visit a museum on a day they offer free admission, cook a meal at home instead of ordering, visit a family member or friend for a cup of coffee or a meal, watch a movie at home, organize that part of your home that you’ve been wanting to do for forever, read a book, play a game like Uno and knit a scarf. See? There are so many things you can do for free or almost no money.
I really love the way the Dutch live. It’s an example for all of us. They are some of the cheapest people in the world, but they’ve got their finances together. Of course, not everyone is doing alright but most know how to budget and stick to it. I also see Dutch people eating sandwiches that they made at home. They usually bring a packed lunch to work, a day out at a museum, or the zoo, even when they travel, they pack food. That is very smart. You can save so much money just by cutting small things out of what you usually spend on.
I barely ever buy coffee out anymore. My boyfriend always packs a lunch so he doesn’t have to buy anything. We try to search for the cheapest deal whenever buying something expensive. As many Dutch people do, we also invest in things that have better quality so they last longer. I’ve had to learn this over time. I used to buy the cheapest item and then complain when it broke after a few months. Sometimes, in the long run, spending a little more will save you money in the end.
I could go on and on about this, but I hope you got my point. I hope you’re content with what you have or are striving to be content. No one should have to live paycheck to paycheck and constantly be working. It’s not okay. We should all have time to do the things we love and spend time with the people that matter to us the most. That is truly being rich.
What does being rich mean to you?