Why Being Satisfied is Robbing You of Financial Freedom

by David@MoneyNing.com · 5 comments

I discuss personal finances with many people. And the more people I talk to, the deeper we dive into their personal situation, the more I dig through the reasons why they aren’t saving more, the more I’m convinced that many people’s problem of not getting ahead is not that they are dissatisfied with how fast they are gaining financial ground. It’s the opposite, and I have this exact problem too.

We’re too satisfied.

We’re satisfied that we’re already contributing to our 401k. We’re satisfied we earned more than we did. We’re satisfied when we look at our investment portfolio as long as our investments don’t show a loss. We’re satisfied our net worth is growing as long as we look back a few years. We’re satisfied when we occasionally save a few bucks because we read a tip to use a cashback site before our online purchase. We’re satisfied to be consumers of financial tips instead of committed participants of those practices. We’re satisfied with our progress in our financial journey. We’re satisfied.

It wasn’t too long ago when I worked at a job that required 12 hour days, 7 days a week of commitment. There wasn’t much free time, but I wasn’t satisfied with just the day job. I chose to start a website on personal finance instead of taking a break. When the website took off and I was making more money than ever before, I looked for all sorts of ways to save money. When I was making money I was only dreaming of making when I was younger, I wasn’t thinking of buying a huge mansion or some supercar. I decided to cut out my cable bill to save $50 a month. I was happy to do it too. I wanted this. I wanted to get ahead because I wasn’t satisfied.

Fast forward a few years and things changed. I was satisfied with my income, and how much money I’ve accumulated already by my mid-30s. I started spending more time with my growing family, playing more, and working less – much less. I worked so little that my sister asked how many hours I work each day every time I saw her.

Then I decided to buy a house a week before our country went into lockdown and the stock market went into free fall. I calculated that I wasn’t going to be broke, but the shock of so many people losing everything and me drastically increasing my expenses with less savings built up because of a big purchase was a wake-up call. I wasn’t satisfied with how I was living my life anymore. I started working on my site more. In fact, I started writing for two more sites so I basically had three jobs.

My wife is in Taiwan caring for her family for the past few months. In other words, I’m temporarily one of those single parents caring for two young kids working three jobs right now. Obviously, those full-time single parents have it way worst because my situation is only temporary. Still, things do get hectic at times. But instead of tearing my hair out, I feel completely relaxed. In fact, I was so happy with the two extra jobs that I wrote about it recently urging you to find extra income. I still had plenty of time to rest or to play games. I’ve called my mom every day in the past few months, something I “didn’t have time” to do when Emma was here helping with the kids and I wasn’t working nearly as much. I’m moving further along the path to freedom at a faster clip too, all because I became unsatisfied once more.

I get interviewed from time to time, and interviewers often ask me to give the one piece of advice people should really hang on to if they want to achieve financial freedom. I always answer with this – “Don’t worry about finding, or not finding that one secret tip to the promised land just yet. Find your motivation instead. Why are you trying to get of debt? What makes saving money special for YOU? Light that fire in your gut and you will figure out how to get ahead on your own. You won’t need anybody to tell you the secret. You will be creating your own secrets.

Instead of just getting a cashback once when you hear about the tip, you’ll always be buying online by first logging onto your cashback site. You’ll know all the current credit card deals and know exactly which one to use when you buy something because that card will give you the best bang for your buck. When you cash out your cashback check, you’ll funnel all the money into the lowest cost index fund and pay almost no taxes because you already know which investments are tax-efficient. Plus, you are contributing to the tax-advantaged accounts to the max already so a big chunk of your assets is tax-protected. You won’t spend too much time looking at your investments either, because you’d rather spend more time figuring out how to make more money in your side hustle.

You can be satisfied, or not. I wasn’t satisfied, and then I was. Now I’m not again. The choice is up to you.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current AT&T DSL and U-VERSE promotion codes and promos and see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Lauren says:

    This post and the last seem like completely opposing thoughts; it’s really confusing. And I resonate a lot more with the last post about being content than this one. Sometimes more work & more income just isn’t worth the time and energy it takes.

    • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

      Thanks for letting me know your thoughts. I can see now that the two posts can be confusing, especially since they are posted one after another.

      The best way to think of this is that you need to be content with what you have and accomplished, but don’t be satisfied that this is the best you could do.

      In some instances, being content with what you have can also mean that you aren’t satisfied with your finances. Take your car for example. I’ve long said that how you spend your money is really just a matter of choice. If you are unsatisfied with your progress to financial freedom, then you will choose to use your income to get ahead instead of spending it on a new car. You can feel like it’s a sacrifice, or you can learn to be content with your car and live happily.

      In this case, you can be content but also unsatisfied. Does that make sense?

  • steveark says:

    This is interesting, almost every time tested school of thought teaches that contentment and gratitude are states of being to be highly sought. Yet satisfied is a very close cousin of content. I loved my career, I was satisfied almost all the time with where I was but I also wanted to continue to grow and succeed. I guess you are using satisfied to mean complacent and not content. I think you can be content and still ambitious at the same time, but not complacent and ambitious.

  • Vicki says:

    I’m satisfied, but I can always find ways to do better.

    Interesting post David… gives me something to think about.

Leave a Comment