The Paycheck

It’s the main reason most of us work in an office.  We need it to pay for things like our home, food, electricity, cell phones, debt, travel, etc.  The majority of us spend 1/3 of our daily lives working for our money.

Working in an office allows us to make pretty good money as well.  I really liked making sandwiches in high school, but it didn’t pay much more than minimum wage.  Most physical labor jobs don’t pay as well as office jobs.  It’s unfortunate.  Most jobs that would be a lot of fun don’t pay much either.

If money is the real reason we spend 40 hours a week stuck in a dull cubicle, then why do we always seem to be short on it?  We buy homes and cars that we can’t afford.  We have credit card debt and student loans that may take 15-30 years to pay off.  Why do we always seem to spend the same amount that we make?

I think that a big step to happiness in an office job is saving money.  I don’t mean just contributing to your 401k and IRA for retirement.  I mean actually chunking money away into a savings account or other liquid fund.  Something that we can watch grow and actually use when we need it.

This is more about the satisfaction of making the money than the being rich.  We need to feel like we are accomplishing something in life and if you can see that bank account number go up after each paycheck you will feel pretty happy.

It used to be that I made just enough to cover my mortgage and other expenses.  I was perfectly fine and even contributed to my retirement accounts.  The problem with this is that we seem to get the feeling of just “floating by”.  We are able to live comfortably with our income and expense, but it never actually feels like we are getting ahead.

As I gradually made more money over the years, I decided that I didn’t need to increase my standard of living.  I spent the same amount on my home, food, entertainment, and other expenses.  I just put the extra money in my savings account.  As I watched that number go up every month, I felt pretty happy about it.

I think that this “accomplishment” of saving money is pretty rewarding.  This is important when you work in an office job that doesn’t provide a sense of reward or accomplishment.  If a construction worker can look at the house he/she built and a cook can look at the meal he/she made, we can at least look at a number in the bank account.

It’s hard in a culture of consumerism to do this though.  The television tells you to buy new things constantly.  Everyone seems to need a bigger and better house.  People buy new cars every couple of years.  Advertising and marketing firms make millions of dollars every year by getting you to spend every cent you have.

The world is not against us, but it’s certainly not looking out for our wellbeing.  We need to save money to be happy.  We need to feel like we are actually getting somewhere in life.  We need to stop floating by.

If you want to be happy save for retirement, live in an affordable house, make due with what you have, don’t buy new cars, and stop buying junk that will just clutter up your life.  You can spend your money, but be more conscious of it.  Spend it on things that will make you happy.  Don’t buy things just because they are new and exciting.  The TV doesn’t know what you need, you do.

Most of us are bored with our jobs.  For us, payday is the best day of the month.  Why blow all of that on things we don’t need?

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2 thoughts on “The Paycheck

  1. Pingback: On lack of reward « Surviving the Cubicle

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