What Really Matters

I love to receive personal finance books for review and I was happy to find a copy of Kimberly Palmer’s book, Generation Earn, on my door step last week.

The book is broken down into three main points of focus; Building Your Life, Creating a Home and Changing the World. My favorite sections were in the latter half of the book, where Palmer discusses the desire to lead a happy, comfortable, satisfied life, not just a life full of stuff and money.

The book steps you through the process of saving money, by living with your parents, avoiding debt, living frugally and planning for upcoming expenses like children and homes, but what stood out more than the financial stories and words on the page, was the underlying notion that the reader should learn to follow his or her own heart.

A few of the chapters in Generation Earn reminded me of one of the best personal finance books ever written: Your Money or Your Life, which focuses on searching for more in life than a job that pays a lot of money. Palmer demonstrates, through the examples of real families, that the goal is to enjoy your job, or enjoy the time you spend with your loved ones, or if you’re really lucky to do both. By focusing on the things that really matter you start to eliminate the unnecessary spending and expenses that don’t.

A lot of the personal stories involve individuals who decided to stay home with their children, start their own businesses, open yoga studios and establish non-profit organizations. The majority of people in Palmer’s examples, are happy with their life decisions, even though some of those decisions, like starting a business, require a lot of hard work.

While I read the book I couldn’t help but think of a recent conversation with a friend of mine who said she could never imagine being happy with how much money she earned. She said, “There’s so much stuff I want and the more I make the more I want.” I laughed and told her that at some point in life she might change her mind. Not so long ago I decided that money was no longer my goal.

I am lucky to lead a very blessed life with a relatively high salary. I save as much as I can and live frugally, within my means. I am happy just where I am. I would be lying if I said I don’t want a raise or bonus for a year of hard work, but at the end of the day there isn’t a whole lot that I need money to buy.

In my opinion the goal is not just to earn money, but rather to be happy with the decisions you’ve made and continue to make. If you are careful with your spending you can be happy and live with a lot less than you think.

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