This week we have touched on the subject of how to manage finances when bringing on a minimum wage. The Great Money Challenge wrote about how to live on a minimum wage and I wrote about how to get wealthy on a minimum wage. I think the consensus around here is that while it is harder and more challenging to make it on a minimum wage it is not impossible.The greatest problems with a low income generally being that of health insurance and managing unproductive debt i.e. credit card card.

However, I think the main challenge is not so much in making a living but in comparing oneself to one’s neighbors and feeling bad about having less. Fact is that even on a minimum wage, such a person would still have a larger income than more than 90% of the world’s population and a standard of living that kings of few centuries ago could not even dream of. When we make monetary goals beyond a certain minimum which is lower than one might expect, the goals are seen in relation to one’s surroundings rather than compared to an absolute. Reading PF blogs I find myself wondering whether one million is enough. I suspect my fellow beings think the same, so we all go out and work hard. When we each have a million, we note some person having two millions in savings and we start doubting ourself and thus we set out again to gather the next million. It seems that our culture is programmed with a rule that more is always better, yet we are unable to really understand on a visceral level when enough is enough. Thinking about it, you know how we, when buying a house, are always recommended to buy the worst house in the best neighborhood. The idea is of course that the house can be improved whereas it can no be moved to a better street. I suppose this implies that the neighborhood itself can never improve(!) Conversely, we should never buy the best house in the worst neighborhood. However, if we consider a minimum cutoff in terms of neighborhood, it seems reasonable to believe that if we are culturally programmed to compare ourself to our closest neighbors then we would be happier living in nicer house relative to our neighbors

Originally posted 2008-01-09 07:15:12.