When you think about having enough money, what comes to mind?
Is it never worrying about money again? The freedom of making a significant career change? Taking a well-deserved sabbatical? Moving to a scenic location? Finally adjusting your lifestyle where work doesn’t have to be your first priority?
Those all sound like pretty dreamy scenarios, but how can you take these hypotheticals and turn them into a realized reality?
The secret is defining “enough,” which applies to your money and lifestyle goals. So, how can you determine your enough number that gives you the freedom to live the life you want today and in the future?
Let’s get our heads out of the clouds to stop dreaming and start doing.
Yes, Your “Enough” Exists
A lot of people think about “enough” in the wrong way—constantly chasing an elusive metric that keeps them on the hamster wheel, so to speak. One reason those people get stuck is that they put money before their lifestyle. But when you reverse the two, you may be surprised that you can easily define and make a plan to attain your “enough.”
Remember, enough won’t look the same for everyone. Your parents, best friend, and other people have their own metrics—today, it’s all about finding yours. If you’re married or in a committed partnership, coordinate ideas and visions with your partner. Intertwining both perspectives enriches the experience.
Discovering what’s enough for you isn’t a mystical, unattainable pipe dream. And the first step is finding your “enough” lifestyle. Understanding how you want your life to look unlocks strategies and opportunities to finance that dream.
Live A Life Beyond Enough
When you know what’s most important to you and how you wish to live your life, you’ll have the tools to determine how much money you need to support that vision.
Start by thinking through some questions:
- What are your core values? How are you currently living them out?
- What aspects of your life do you enjoy and want to keep?
- Where do you want to make changes?
- How do you see yourself growing personally and professionally over the next 5, 10, or even 20 years? What do you want to accomplish?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- Where are you currently finding the most fulfillment? Are there areas where you’re feeling unfulfilled or uninspired?
These deep questions require conscious thought and effort, but they can help you identify if you’re living your ideal lifestyle and, if not, illuminate the steps to get there.
Let’s look at an example.
Say you and your spouse welcomed a child into your family. Travel and culture are core values for you both, and you feel it’s important to raise your child bilingual. Perhaps your plan includes enrolling them in a bilingual school, or you may want to travel and watch your child grow up in different countries to broaden their worldview and connect as a family.
How much is “enough” for this family? It depends if they have careers enabling them to work from anywhere, where they plan to live (cost of living, expat taxes, travel back to the states, etc.), and their current savings and investments.
Take a look at expat blogs in areas where you want to live abroad to figure out the cost of living and schools. Or you may need to explore the cost of bilingual schools in your area and figure out how to work these costs into your budget.
More Isn’t Always Better
When thinking about your ideal lifestyle, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting “more” just because. But more doesn’t always mean better. In fact, more can sometimes add additional (and unnecessary) complexity to your life. It may also lead you further from your values.
For example, at first, you may think you want to purchase a vacation home in your favorite sunny spot. But have you thought about the practicality of that choice, like the ongoing maintenance, property taxes, extended vacancy, travel costs, insurance, etc.?
Plus, if you’re an avid traveler, a vacation home may limit your wanderlust spirit as you could feel more obligated to travel to that destination instead of exploring new locations.
Be Intentional With Your Money So It’s Aligned With Your Values
Remember, in life and money, more isn’t necessarily the answer, even though it may feel like a pretty good default. Instead of thinking about your life and money in terms of “more,” change your tune to “intentional.”
When you do that, you may find that you can redirect cash flow resources to areas that offer you and your family more value. And perhaps, that will be enough, or maybe you want to pursue additional compensation to make your lifestyle come to fruition.
Simplicity gives you the mental space to be purposeful about your time and money without all the headaches that come along with “more.”
Being more intentional puts you in an abundance mindset and gives you the tools to connect with your values. When your money supports the things that matter most to you, you’ll more likely find fulfillment, joy, and, yes, “enough.”
Turn Your “Have To Dos” Into “Want To Dos”
There’s an endless supply of financial literature that tries to tell you what you “have to do” with your money. But that rhetoric is generalized and not specific to your goals, values, and desired lifestyle.
So, let’s make a change. Instead of thinking about your money in terms of “have to dos,” consider it as “want to dos.”
For example, you may feel like you have to pay for 100% of your child’s college costs. But if doing so means abandoning savings for an annual family vacation, which is really important to you, that might not be the best move. Instead, you may want to pay for 50% of your child’s college tuition at an in-state institution. If you’re in a position to help them pay back their student loans in the future, then you can always choose to help them with that, but the important thing is to set yourself up for options and flexibility.
You may also decide to save extra money in a brokerage account so that if you’re in a position to help them out later (wedding, business funding, student loan help, grad school, down payment on a house, etc.), you have that flexibility.
Money is personal, and it’s essential to customize what you do with your money so that it works for you and your family today and in the future.
Tips To Save “Enough” For Your Ideal Lifestyle
Alright, that was the fun part—now it’s time to bring some numbers into the equation. Once you know how you want to live, add up what that vision roughly costs. Consider the following:
- How much income you’re currently bringing in
- Salary, passive income, freelance work, investments, etc.
- Your desired career path
- Do you want to slow down and work part-time? Change careers? Open your own business? Your career ambitions will affect the amount of money you have to work with.
- Your projected monthly and annual expenses (housing, travel, entertainment, etc.)
- Base this number on the ideal lifestyle you created above. If you want to move, research housing prices, property and state taxes, cost of living, and more.
- What type of insurance coverage do you have? Do you need to add, adjust, or cancel any policies?
- What’s your current tax bracket? How do you anticipate that changing in your “enough” scenario?
- Outstanding debts
- Do you have a mortgage, auto, student loan, personal, business, or credit card debt? What are your monthly payments? Are you close to paying it off? Once you do, how can you redirect those dollars to fund other goals?
- Emergency savings
- What’s the state of your emergency fund? Will you need a bigger cushion if you’re leaving your 9-5, growing your family, or making another significant life change?
- Ongoing investments
- Are you maxing out your 401k or other workplace retirement plan? Are you saving outside of retirement, like in a brokerage account or HSA? If you start working part-time, will you be able to sustain that pace?
- Charitable giving
- How much are you currently giving to charity? Do you want to maintain or increase that pattern?
This list may look overwhelming, but remember, it’s just a starting point. You may find it helpful to seek counsel from a financial advisor who can help you define your “enough” and devise a clear saving and investment plan to help you achieve it.
If you want to do this yourself, Tim Ferriss calls this process Dreamlining, and you can use this calculator to figure out your number!
Double Duty; How Your Money Can Serve Your Life Now, And In The Future
When you think about it, you ask a lot of your money. You want it to help you live an incredible life today and set you up for future success.
- But how can you strike the right balance?
- Are you saving and investing enough money to accomplish both goals?
- How can you truly define “enough” and let it shape your life into something extraordinary?
These are incredible questions, ones that our team would love to help you answer. On your journey to “enough,” remember that there is an answer for you, as long as you put the work in to find it and give it life.