What would you do if you had unlimited money? Get a bigger house? Take fancier vacations?
Would you give it all up?
That’s what I chose to do. If you think I’m crazy, read on.
How Much Money is Unlimited Money?
Let me start off by saying I have never been rich. Over the last ten years I built up a respectable career in nonprofits, focusing on fundraising from increasingly high-level donors. You can get paid good money when you make it rain for an organization, and I did – but never six-figure income. Not even close.
I had a comfortable life until I purchased a large duplex when I was married, which rapidly devalued after 2008. With the bills on the house, my wife and I had to live lean despite our salaries.
Once I divorced I decided I could do better. I sold out my share of the duplex to my wife, freeing myself from mortgage payments. It felt great, but it also meant I needed to find a new place to stay.
I chose to get unconventional. Instead of renting an apartment, I opted to live for free. I looked at a variety of options including house sitting, taking over an abandoned property, and lodging with a friend. In the end, I accepted a position at a Buddhist monastery that included free room and board.
For the first time in my adult life I had no mortgage and no rent. Like anyone, I know how to spend money. I spent it eating out, buying drinks for friends, and improving my wardrobe. But as a minimalist I intentionally don’t buy expensive things to clutter up my life. I spend my free time writing or socializing, not flying off for expensive cruises. Even with mojitos and cigarillos I had a lot of extra cash.
Under these new circumstances, my normal lifestyle could not burn money as quickly as I earned it. Had I continued this, I would have continuously accrued savings even while buying whatever I wanted.
That’s why I call it the infinite money machine.
The Safety Perspective
The thing about being comfortable is it makes you rethink your priorities. When I first jump-started the infinite money machine, I expected it would help me save up for my dream of travel. But I pictured that dream being faraway, in some distant future.
Then something changed. According to Everett Bogue it’s a slump you hit after you experience success: you run out of things to challenge you, and you have to refocus on bigger goals or else you just drift.
Maslow has a more direct way of putting it. When you fill your lower-level needs like food, shelter and security, you increasingly value higher-level goals like creativity, achievement and earning respect. You don’t necessarily want to give up physical comfort, but you may be willing to risk it for a higher level of fulfillment.
That was definitely true in my case. Once I was safe and secure in a comfortable life, all my oldest and deepest dreams came flooding back to me with renewed urgency. I could see that I wasn’t honoring what 16-year-old Drew had dreamed for me. And I had to change that.
Your life is like a phantom coin that disappears at midnight. There’s a whole carnival worth of games and rides you can spend it on, and it may be hard to choose what to do. But if you wait and wait and wait too long, it’s gone.
What are you spending your coin on? Are you willing to spend it, or are you holding it back “just in case”? And how long do you plan to wait?
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