Financial security is the peace of mind one feels when one’s income is sufficient to cover any expenses and one’s savings are significant enough to cover all emergencies and goals for the foreseeable future. While we tend to view financial security as a destination, a final stop we aim to reach, it is really more of a journey through which we develop and learn.
On the topic of financial security, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“It’s okay to make money. It’s even okay for corporations to make money. Unfortunately, money addiction is so rampant in this society that we have lost all perspective on making money. We have become addicted to the process of making money. The money itself has become irrelevant. It is the process of accumulation that has us hooked. No matter how much we have, it is never enough. The same is true at a corporate level. More is never enough. We have developed a frantic obsession around accumulation of money. We gather, we spend, and we hoard. We have forgotten that money is not real. It is symbolic. It is legal tender. It is a form of exchange. It has become so real for us that is it more real than our health, our relationships, or our lives. Money addiction and workaholism often go hand in hand.
Financial security is a static concept that is illusionary and expands exponentially as we reach our former static goal.”
What I am quickly learning on my path to financial independence is that it is easy to always want more. The thing about money though is that, unlike our health, well-being, and most especially time, money is not a finite resource. We can always make more money; we can never make or even purchase more time. Health and well-being can perish lest we nurture them consistently and encourage them to grow. If we let them suffer, they are not so easily or quickly restored as finances can be.
I do take issue with Anne’s thoughts on financial security, however. There is a difference between being addicted to money for money’s sake, this frantic obsession with accumulation that she speaks of, and aiming to save enough money to sufficiently support yourself into the future. I also believe Anne confounds the concept of financial security with lifestyle inflation. They are two completely separate topics, and while it is easy to allow lifestyle creep to inflate the amount of money needed to achieve financial security, it is also entirely possible to keep your lifestyle in check and have a static goal to reach. There is a point at which having more nice things doesn’t make us any happier, just as there is a point at which making more money doesn’t necessarily make us happier either. I suppose that’s the difference between addiction and moderation.
Saving my money now allows me to buy my freedom later. Financial security brings a peace of mind unlike any other.