Posted by Robert on May 16, 2011
This is a guest post by Robert, who lives in Calgary and works as a financial adviser. He is married, has three kids and plans to retire at age 35. Robert and his wife then plan to return to school and become teachers, eventually living and working overseas.
We had some friends over on Saturday and, while our kids played on the playground, we chatted. Money doesn’t come up often in conversation, as a topic, but it seems to lurk behind a lot of the decisions we make. Our friends explained a choice they’ve made that tells us they’re addicted to income.
She stays home with the kids, while her husband works as a teacher. Teachers in Alberta make a very good income, but he works long hours, doing extra-curricular activities and coaching. The benefit, of course, is the two months vacation during the summer. I can only assume that his monthly income covers all (and just) their monthly living expenses.
But because of his ability, he works as a tour guide, away from his family, for five weeks in the summer. And they explained that the income is really nice. Each year, they’ve been able to complete a project on their house, using the extra income from the extra five weeks of work. There is nothing wrong with working a second job, or doing extra work for extra income. That can make a lot of economic sense.
But they said that those five weeks are really hard. It’s hard for the family to be apart and it’s hard for him to leave for five weeks each year. From the way they talked, I got the the distinct impression that they’d rather not do it again. “But,” they added, “the money sure is nice.”
And that’s when I realized that, to some extent, they’re addicted to the income. They are making choices that don’t feel right, choosing to do something they’d rather not, just for the money. Without discipline, our spending will always expand to use all available income. Living on much less than I earn has helped me to maintain my spending discipline and not get addicted to income.
Have you been addicted to income? Have you made a choice you’d rather not, just for the money?