As a kid, you can’t wait to grow up. You want to drive a car and cuss whenever you want. You want to have a house and make your own rules. You want to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and no one can tell you otherwise. Truth is, none of it is what you thought it would be.
Sure, you have a car. Unfortunately, you also have a car payment, insurance payment, and a never-ending ritual of filling it up with gas. Along with routine tune-ups and oil changes. Let’s not forget random bad luck emergencies. Like if your transmission goes out, or you drive over a nail and have to get a new tire (or two, or fuck it all four). And to be perfectly honest, driving isn’t much fun anymore. Sitting in traffic, dealing with idiot drivers which in turn causes you to have road rage (never a good idea), trying to maneuver your vehicle on unsafe roads when the weather is bad. It’s just not fun.
Okay, so that part isn’t the greatest about adulthood. What about your house!? Nope. Again, money will dictate if/when you are able to get one of your own. How big it will be, where it will be located, and the condition it’s in when it becomes yours. All of these things are determined by those dollars. True: In your own home you make all the rules. But in your own home, you do all of the housework as well. I’m talking dishes, bathrooms, towers of laundry. The list is truly endless. Oh yeah, and you pay all the bills there too. Electric, gas, sewer/water/trash, cable/internet (if you can swing it), and let’s not forget the big one… Mortgage/rent. Yep, more money you have to spend. Oh, you want to eat? Guess what, groceries aren’t cheap either! That’s just more moolah you’ll have to come up with.
Okay, so you think having to spend money won’t be that bad since you’ll still get to do whatever you want right? Wrong… In order to make those buckaroos, you’ll need a steady income by way of a job/career. These necessary evils will take up most of that precious time you think you’ll have. Good luck finding one that you enjoy. And good luck finding one where they pay you what your work is worth. The only way you will obtain that kind of career is if you earn a college degree. Easy enough right? Wrong again… The degree most potential employers expect you to have will take you about 4-8 years (if not more) to acquire. Still thinking that isn’t so bad? Wrong once again… Are you beginning to sense a pattern here? College is not free to attend and learn. Not only is it not free, but it is quite the opposite. It is extremely expensive. Unless you are lucky enough to have a scholarship or grant (more power to you if you do), or if you are lucky enough to have your parents pay for your college (are they looking to adopt?), you will have to pay back every penny of those loans all by yourself (did I forget to mention the thousands extra you’ll pay in interest?). Yes… More money you’ll have to pay.
So the job you end up having will likely take up anywhere from 40-50 hours each and every week. This leaves you little time to have all that fun you imagined you’d have. Instead of wanting to go out and have fun, you’d rather stay in and relax since you are tired. That’s if you are single with no children. If you add a spouse, the extra time you had to yourself is now being spent trying to please someone else. It’s spent going on dates and enjoying someone else’s company. Or (in not so fresh relationships) it’s spent cleaning up after another person, or fighting over redundant things such as why they won’t take a bite of food that you have so kindly put right in front of their mouth. Just because they said they didn’t want a bite, doesn’t mean they really don’t. Hold it there and get an attitude for as long as it takes until they take a damn bite… (Subtle cough) For instance. Now, imagine you add in a child to the mix. The time you had to yourself outside of your spouse is literally non-existent. Don’t ever plan on alone time again. Okay, you finally get to make the rules, but that little stinker is really the boss.
This is why the majority of Americans are working at jobs they aren’t fulfilled in while making less than they deserve. Millennials (myself included) and the children just starting their education are lacking in skills. If you have a skill in an essential trade (electric work, plumbing, HVAC, construction, welding, woodworking, farming, etc.) you can make a fantastic living. Unfortunately, the government has lead us to believe college is the only way to go in order to succeed in life. Therefore, none of these essential skills are being taught in any school. It’s a shame really.
Adulthood is not what any of us thought. It’s hard, it’s stressful, and sometimes it seems like it’s pointless. Money is clearly the theme here. What they say is true: Money can’t literally buy happiness. It can, however, make sure you are debt free, are able to live comfortably, provide for your children everything you wish you could, and make sure when retirement comes along, you’ll continue to live comfortably. Those things will relieve so much stress, so many struggles, and make you feel like you have a purpose, that in turn you will be happy. So my conclusion is that yes, money can buy happiness.
My advice to any young individuals reading this would be:
Make a list of things you want. Actually write it down. It can be material items such as a toy, or a car, or even a house. Or it could be goals such as a destination you want to take, activities you want to do, or even experiences that you won’t be able to do unless you make them happen. Once you make your list, put them in order from your most important to your least important. Now, once you’ve done that, figure out how much all of these things will cost. Now, open a savings account. Anytime you get some money (if you are still living at home especially), put your money in it. One by one, once you’ve saved enough for something on your list, check it off. Keep doing this. You will be so happy you did.
My advice for the rest of us. The adults who might think we are stuck with where we’re at with what we’ve got:
Read the above advice, and do that same thing. Obviously you can only save what’s left after your bills, but that’s life. It’s never too late to start working towards a goal, or an item.
All I can say to the reality of adulthood is that money will mandate your means of life and the items within it, but it’s up to you to choose to reach goals. True happiness comes from succeeding at something you’ve worked so hard to accomplish. Whether your goal is to be a good mom (and let me tell you, that is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced), or if your goal is to always try to be a better partner to your significant other (which also is pretty fulfilling when you are doing a good job), or if your goal is to get rich and buy a submarine (this could be on my list). Whatever it is you want to strive for will always be waiting. You just can’t give up. No one is stopping you but yourself.