What’s Your Number?

We all have a price.

A dollar figure- that elusive number, a goal if you will, where we feel comfortable enough to retire or simply knowing we have the option to walk away if someone pushed us too far.

A recent survey of the top 10% of American wage earners felt their number was 7.5 million dollars- and this number continues to rise.

Blink.

7.5 MILLION???

Glug.

Of course, I don’t fall into this rarified group of wage earners (I believe one has to be making at least $150K per year) but I can’t help but wonder if this was a figure people pulled out of thin air or did some people actually sit down to look at their assets, liabilities, how much their lifestyle costs and how these costs will change when they retire and all of this in relation to their anticipated retirement date?

I am more inclined to think this was a number people pulled out of their butt.

We all know we would be happier if we made more money, and the less money we make, the greater the impact of any increase on said happiness. At some point, more money does not increase one’s feelings of happiness. Not that I believe one can accurately quantify happiness.

But I digress.

The point is wealth is a relative measure. And what the hell does that mean?

Let’s say you fell within the realm of the top 10% of wage earners with $150K/year. How would you feel about your income if all your social peers earned over $500K? What if the people you compared yourself to earned $50K?

That $150K feels very different in these two scenarios doesn’t it?

Keeping up with the Jones is a dangerous game to play because you will never win- unless you are Warren Buffet. But then, Buffet doesn’t really play these games, does he?

Someone is always going to have more money. Just like someone is always going to have better hair, be thinner, have more friends etc.

We all compete to a certain extent- it’s just human nature. At some point, we have to put on the brakes to figure out if this breakneck pace is taking us to a place we really want to go.

For me it is not so much the dollar figure itself but what it represents- freedom.

And what is the price of that freedom?

I’ll share it with you in my next post.

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~ by angryegg on March 21, 2011.

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