Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: How to stop my greed for money?
77 points by throwaway435341 on Nov 3, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 76 comments
I make an average living (low six figures, have savings, house, no loan, etc) but for the last 2-3 years my greed for money has been unstoppable.

I keep reading about these people who are making millions of dollars and I want to be like them too. It is turning into an obsession. I used to love what I do but now it's all about money.

Every minute I'm not working is me not working towards my goal. I'm either working or criticizing myself for not working.

It is making me very unhappy and I realize that it's all because of this stupid obsession but I just can't shake it. It's not just greed but I'm also scared because I feel if I don't make a lot of money now I will miss my chance and I will be poor when I'm old (it's not 100% true since I have good savings but this thought keeps bugging me over and over).

Anyone else feel the same? Any word of advice?


First, realize that you're probably making at least double the median US income. If you have a house with no loan and that income, you're doing way, way, way better than average.

I see two possible paths forward.

The less likely is to read and internalize http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-sim... and realize how quickly you can reach financial independence at a reduced spending level (but one that still affords an amazing life). Buying time is the most valuable use of money, IMO.

The second is to stay miserable for a while, striving for something ambiguous yet out of reach, until you get older and this feeling fades.

Path #1 (or a variant) is probably healthier and happier.

in my experience, knowing that you're doing better than average doesn't help this mindset. OP craves money, and an excess of success. Unless you fought for a long time to get out of the "average" bracket (which many software engineers haven't had to do), it's easy to just want more and more.

Also I have mixed feelings towards recommending the Mustachian community to OP. FI might help quench a thirst for money, but it also might just augment or exacerbate the obsession with accumulating money.

Personally, I see this problem as more of a philosophical one. I can't offer answers, but as someone who also has to consciously fight off obsession with money, practicing mindfulness, living in the moment, and finding joy in relationships and other "free", meaningful things helps. idk ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have a related question but from a different situation. In throes my job hunting, I described my job search and overall work experience, and someone pared down to conclusion to, I am fetishizing having a job too much.

If I am truly doing this, can that still be rationalized even when I am very underemployed?

While I won't bog you down on the details, I have a really patchy work history created by frequent layoffs. This created a lot of unemployment time, taking up about a quarter of my post-academic life. On top of that, I am very underpaid for a developer (~40% of the local average pay) so I often struggle making ends meet when I'm out of a job.

I feel pressured from many sides thinking of many possible solutions to choose.

Give some money away, even if it's a little bit.

In certain circles this is called creating an "abundance mentality," [1]. When you get rid of something that you're worried about not having enough of, it trains your brain to not worry so much about having the thing.

[1] https://www.positivityblog.com/how-to-create-an-abundance-me...

I wonder if that works on the most important currency of all - time.

Yes, it works for me. Set a timer for 10 minutes and commit to doing nothing until the timer runs out, and you will feel a lot less rushed.

I like to think about my deathbed. We can't take money with us when we die, so what's money for except to live the life we want?

So what do you want out of life? What would you do if you had a billion dollars? What would you do if money weren't a thing at all, and we all got to do whatever we want?

I would still create things. I'd write code. I'd design 3d models. I'd write. I'd climb mountains, and run on trails. I'd spend time with my family. I'd watch movies. I'd read books.

What would you do? Are you doing any of these things now? If you can identify these kinds of things, and let yourself enjoy them in the moment, you might find yourself not thinking about money for a little while each day.

I'm still young but I made a change last year that I should have done so much sooner and I will never forget the impact it had on me. I might not be able to offer the life experiences of any of the parents or grandparents here, but still.

So I started college 4 years ago when I was 18 and at the same time I started my own startup. This was fine, but I focused more on my startup than on my social life. I grew tired of it and I stopped with both of my startups last year because I was just plain sick of it. I didn't enjoy being woken up at 5AM by a client that I want to strangle in the first place because he woke me up so early and that I have to be very nice to. That being the superficial reason why I quit. But I never really made any time to go out, meet new people, stay in contact with friends, etc.

Once I quit, I joined student clubs (not really like frats and the American stuff, but imagine those kinds of casual friends), invited people over, went out with people, organised parties at my place... I've honestly never been happier in my entire life. I went from solely focusing on my future career to putting my social life before that. This past week has also just been plain amazing and I wouldn't have experienced this week and the many good ones before it if I didn't prioritised what made me happy.

Prioritise what makes you happy, put old ideas out of your head (e.g. being afraid of what people think of you), and just don't overthink anything (still something I need to teach myself).

I won't ever tell you to not chase money - one of the world's most prominent lies is that "money doesn't buy you happiness"

I come from a heavily Buddhist culture that preaches disconnect from materialism, and I can truly say that it hardly holds. Please LOVE money, because no matter what anyone says, wealth gives you:

1. Independence

2. Confidence

3. Ability to solve problems by throwing money at it. This one's super important as we're heading towards a world where medicine is advancing enough to cure most ailments, even cancer and aids are likely to be cured in the next 30 years with the advent of Gene therapy and genetically customized medicine

4. If you actually have #1,2,3, your chances of finding love are higher, as you can devote some concerted amount of time towards finding love that many poorer folks don't have. Plus confidence & independence are attractive characteristics.

The only thing you should learn to modulate is expectations on how quickly you can accrue wealth. For the 7 billion that are alive today, there are probably a thousand billionaires, tens of thousands with hundreds of millions, a few million with <$10M and the rest are well below $1M in net worth.

So, statically, you're more likely to be in that <$1M net worth bracket, despite your best efforts. Happiness lies in knowing and accepting the likelihood of you ending up in the >$10M net worth bracket. It's low, but happiness can also be found in planning and executing a life towards that goal, while being aware of the low probability of getting there.

So don't give up your "greed" for money, but do give up your unreasonable expectations of getting rich quick. Be pragmatic about how rich you can get (best case, median case, worst case) and plan towards getting there

This resonates so much with how I feel. Thanks for sharing!

Go to a therapist. A money hoarder is the worst kind of hoarder, since it's basically encouraged by society, but it's really damaging to both the hoarder and the people around them. Destroys famillies, etc, etc. Your money thing is probably, like ordinary hoarding, a sublimated form of anxiety.

I disagree - sortof. "money-hoarding" is very useful - money lets you do all manner of fun things. If you're not sure what you want - hoarding money is a pretty good thing to do in the meantime. If nothing else you'll be able to spend it on therapy :) But, should ultimately be a means to an end. You are going to die, you can't take it with you - decide what you want from your finite life, and tie the money to what you can do with it.

>I disagree - sortof. "money-hoarding" is very useful - money lets you do all manner of fun things.

That's exactly the dangerous thing about it. I'm a minor hoarder of electronic components, and I'd probably be a pathological case if my wife didn't stop me. It's precisely the potential future usefulness that keeps me piling our basement full of old washing machine motors and garage-door solenoids.

Oh, you should see the stuff I've got - all the wires, apart from the one I need. Fortunately money doesn't take up that much space (and can be used to buy old solenoids when you ACTUALLY need one). (although I fully agree the transactional costs of selling/buying mean you should at least keep a few spares to hand).

Do a bit of volunteer work for people who are far less fortunate. You’ll start to appreciate what you have and maybe start to reset your priorities and perspective.

I have thought about this issue deeply and my answer is religious as I am a religious person.

I have found that feelings of needing to be successful (and dissatisfaction) often follow reading about the rich and famous. It goes like this...I lay in bed on a Saturday morning reading about other’s success on my phone then minutes later wonder what I am doing with my life. The connection now seems obvious.

I’ve concluded for me success is not about pursuing wealth but obeying Jesus’s teachings.

My advice to you is enjoy the fact you are currently rich. Find a better philosophy to build your life on or you will become richer but not necessarily any happier.

You say you keep reading about all the people making millions. I suggest you think and read about 99% of people of the world poorer than you - who live in war torn countries with brutal dictators, who have to walk miles to get water, who don't have enough money to feed their children. Then you will realize how lucky and privileged you are to be making a six figure salary in a peaceful country (I am assuming you live in a peaceful country here). That would help curb your greed. Money is a mirage, the amount you want always seems just out of reach and you keep running after it. After a certain point it has diminishing happiness returns (if you earn a six figure salary in dollars/euros/pounds) you have reached that level already. You should feel lucky and enjoy other things like your hobbies. People who make very less money don't have the luxury to enjoy their hobbies. Realize how lucky you are and it will change the way you view life and money.

What is it about the millionaires that makes you want to be one?

Freedom from having a boss? Not having to work? Fast cars? Flash apartments in trendy locations? Bragging rights? Feeling of "winning the game".

Ask yourself honestly will you still have some kind of obsession even if you made millions. Its a cliche the 70 year old billionaire businessperson still working their ass off.

In a nutshell get to know yourself and your motivations. Reflect.

I'm not the OP but I _love_ cars and for me being a millionaire would allow me to enjoy cars properly.

I don't want a garage of Ferraris, McLarens or Lamborghinis. I want a garage of hot hatches, track cars, Caterhams, Lotus', fast coupes: a nice collection of "affordable" fast cars that I grew up aspiring to own.

Maybe reading about the opposite can help. I found about Mr Money Moustache[0] about a year ago. His blog changed the way I look at and think about money.

[0] https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from...

For me it was (is) just about the status and feelings of accomplishment compared to others.

Try to get your self worth from something else. (Easier said than done in this society!)

Give some charity. Do it consistently.

Why is this near the bottom of the page? Seriously.

First let me congratulate you for being so honest with yourself (and us).

This sounds very much like an addiction (coming). In such cases (obsessive behavior), there is usually no way other, than seeking for a psycho therapist, because the obsessive behavior, usually, develops in order to cover something else. A therapist has much experience with such topics and knows how to lead you to that point and through it. And then it's all work. Difficult, but very rewarding, since you realize, how much you respect and appreciate yourself for dealing with these things.

You know, what is interesting in all the responses I see here is how few people admit to feeling the same way. So I'll say it - I am also greedy. I also have to work on it. It's ok. More than anything, if you are aware of it you will work on it, and working on it will make you a better person.

I might get downvoted for this but... how about just working towards making more money? Many times feeling the urge to get something is a crucial factor in actually achieving that goal, so you seem well positioned to do that.

I’m in a somewhat similar situation, though mine is “greed” towards a very specific goal (financial independence, as in being able to completely stop working for the rest of my life with a very low chance of running out of money, which requires amassing $4-5M in my circumstances). Having that goal in mind, it makes me significantly happy when I get a raise and are able to sock away $150k instead of $120k into my investments accounts this year while keeping my living expenses fixed.

Even if I already make more than enough to comfortably sustain my living expenses now (I’m also in a typical $300-400k range for software engineers in Bay Area), I can easily say making more makes me much happier, because my goal date is approaching faster and I can quantify it in my detailed spreadsheet where I track contributions/returns/inflation for the future. I can get the gratification of seeing the date shortening by X years at every raise. That’s how I easily dismiss all claims that “money doesn’t make you happier”. Once I reach my number, which is already a conservative estimate, I won’t give a damn about making one more penny.

So, your greed might not necessarily be a bad thing if you can phrase it as a proper goal.

Being greedy for money is when you cheat, lie, scam, steal, or abuse others in the name of money. That doesn't sound like that's what you're doing. You are not doing anything wrong. You are trading your time and energy for your hard earned cash. Also, working harder for more money can come at a cost to your health and time, so tread carefully. Money doesn't solve your problems or bring you happiness , and it is a false measurement of wealth and success. However, having it can give you the potential to live a good live by giving you options.

Discover your true purpose in life by finding a way to contribute to society, whether through your own business or helping someone else realize their mission. Money is just a way of measuring how much you're contributing something of value to someone else.

Instead of concentrating on money, start asking yourself how to create something meaningful that will benefit the world, not how to earn more. You can feel good about having a positive impact on society, and the money will naturally come fair and square faster than you can track it. You will also enjoy every minute of it and it will become play instead of overexertion. What's most important, though, is that you learn the skills to always be able to make money no matter your circumstance. Be the absolute best in your field and you will be set for life.

The opportunities will always be there today, tomorrow, and in the next century. There are millions of undiscovered ideas that will make you rich. The more time you spend worrying, the less time you'll spend thinking about your next idea. Also, be willing to stay flexible in your plans in case big promising opportunities come along that you are not expecting.

Avoid comparing yourself to others, no matter what it is about. (Money, possessions, relationships, businesses, etc.) It will always result in you suffering and wanting more. Focus on your path and what's in front of you. Count your blessings before bed each day.

Study Buddhism and meditate to help overcome your insecurity. I particularly recommend lectures by Alan Watts on youtube. Life is a delicate balance and you may be spending too much time on work without rest. Work must be balanced with personal growth, family, community/friends, and entertainment. The more you focus only on your career, the more time it will take to bring balance back into your life.

This won't necessarily "stop your greed," but I'm a big fan of Jim Harrison's "In Search of Small Gods," particularly the poem "Quarters."



"Maybe the problem is that I got involved with the wrong crowd of gods when I was seven. At first they weren't harmful and only showed themselves as fish, birds, especially herons and loons, turtles, a bobcat and a small bear, but not deer and rabbits who only offered themselves as food. And maybe I spent too much time inside the water of lakes and rivers. Underwater seemed like the safest church I could go to. And sleeping outside that young might have seeped too much dark into my brain and bones. It was not for me to ever recover. The other day I found a quarter in the driveway I lost at the Mecosta State Fair in 1947 and missed out on five rides including the Ferris wheel and the Tilt-A-Whirl. I sat in anger for hours in the bull barn mourning my lost quarter on which the entire tragic history of earth is written. I looked up into the holes of the bulls' massive noses and at the brass rings puncturing their noses which allowed them to be led. It would have been an easier life if I had allowed a ring in my nose but so many years later I still find the spore of the gods here and there but never in the vicinity of quarters."

Your compass is pointing in the wrong direction and leading you down the wrong trail, time to get a better map. How about spending some of that money you make to make you less dependent on future money. Buy some land, build a house on it, make that house as self-sufficient as you care to go - one step at the time, starting with energy as that's easy to achieve. Don't just buy stuff and have others build or install it for you, get some hands-on experience. Every step you take will take you away from the need for more future money and towards a goal which you've worked for. Every step will show you other things to strive for than just more money. Ignore all those million-dollar stories, more money than you need to keep the bills paid - i.e. lower middle class income - does not make you a happier person, read up on the subject if you feel the need.

I get what you are going through. I overbuy products when I find something that I like because I get anxious that I won't be able to find it again. I have stockpiles that irritate my wife and take up space.

Do you have a wife and kids to support, by chance?

If yes -> is this effecting them?

If no -> have you fallen on hard times before? Or has a family member and you were not able to help them out?

Money is far from one of my concerns in life. For me, I meditate, I read books, I enjoy friends, I enjoy making pour-overs, I enjoy walks, etc.

Maybe you just need to slow down a bit? While slowing down take a look at the things you enjoy and try to make a plan to enjoy them more.

The thing about money is that when you have it you want more, you won't ever have enough.

Have you watched "The Big Short"? Perhaps do and realize that as people make money others tend to lose money, jobs, houses, etc. From the movie for every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die.

Time is incredibly short. Money is only interesting as far as it lets you spend time on things that matter to you. Therefore time spent unhappily obsessing over money is a double tragedy.

We live in an era where almost everyone in the West has access to physical and social luxuries that go far beyond the lifestyle enjoyed by kings of the past. Louis XV of France spent his evenings in drafty old Versailles playing craps with the same old boring courtiers; we've got central heating, Netflix, boundless internet communities and $5 clothing delivered to your doorstep if you want. You don't need anything more than what you already have, and you're not going to be poor by any definition within your lifetime. Probably the best way to make that concrete is to start giving money away: charity is the easiest way to feel like a king.

I'm sorry, unrelated, but where do I get $5 clothing delivered to my doorstep (USA). I am not aware of this and I hate clothes shopping, sounds like something I could use.

That might well be a $5 pair of socks or underwear from Amazon or eBay...

Somebody ought to make a Dollar Shave Club for men's business attire.

As a person who had the same obsession, I’d suggest FIRE https://qz.com/work/1274905/understanding-fire-financial-ind... - save enough and retire. It’s great to have time for yourself, your family, friends and just take a rest from a competition and stress at work. Dropping a job it’s a difficult, especially if you’re like I was workaholic. The first 2 weeks are the most hard time when you don’t know what to do, you feel yourself lost and broken. I’d suggest to plan this time ahead with 0lanty of things you wanted to try or to do but you never had t8me for those stuff. I hope it will help.

If I was in your situation I would start thinking along the following lines.

1. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel uncomfortable. This is uncomfortable feeling that you're not in control, that you're not making enough, that you're going to miss your one shot. This is the first step at reducing the anxiety of it.

2. Start to remove distracting consumptions. Social media, articles, news, etc. Spend time just being with yourself and appreciate the quiet. Put your phone on flight mode at night and charge it in a different room, get enough sleep.

3. Expose yourself to new perspectives. I have found the following audio books to be instrumental is figuring out how to be happier without greed:

a) A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

b) Man's Search for Meaning

c) The Power of Now (I'm only about 1 hour into this one, but it's made me think)

4. Start a new routine to break the habit of your current ways of thinking.

5. Meditate to help you regain control of your reactions - become reaction aware.

6. Don't look for whole solutions, progress happens in tiny steps and just keep exploring new ways to approach how you feel, how you motivate, how you enjoy the today. Sometimes it's the smaller things that have more profound effects.

7. Start measuring your progress in years, derived by small daily improvements.

I appreciate the above advice might not be for everyone, but it's something I'm going down and enjoying it very much. You already reached a fundamental point, to bring out of your subconscious how you really feel. Now you can consciously reprogram how you want to feel. Well done!

>I make an average living (low six figures,

I make 33k a year...

What do you want the money for? I "like the money" - but can break it down into a load of "reasons" 1) I'd like to retire and enjoy life. I'll happily obsess over pension pot sizes, incomes, retirement dates and all the rest. 2) Paying off the mortgage. If I stop earning, I'll be homeless. Once I've paid that f'er off, I can choose to do things I want to do, rather than have to. 3) "Cock-waving" - If I earn more than somebody, I'm "better" than them. Or conversely, if I feel I'm better but earn less - rage.

What makes me feel better is actually thinking about my goal. Day to day I'll get obsessed with the minutiae, but stepping back I realize I'm pretty easy going. I want to pay off my existing house, have the ability to cover by relatively simple costs until I pop my clogs, and have freedom.

You mention "your goal" - what is it, and why have you chosen it?

I keep reading about these people who are making millions of dollars

First thing would be to stop doing that! I mean, eliminate that totally from your life. Sounds like women feeling bad by reading magazines with gorgeous models in them. Why do that to yourself. Of course you feel bad, that's the idea.

Physical activity. I.e., start going for a run 3-4 times a week. It's a great way to get your mind off of your troubles.

Understand that your desires will be there. Desires lead to anger (either when they’re unfulfilled, or once they’re fulfilled and you’re on to the next thing). When you’re angry, you’re not going to think straight and end up confused, and when you’re confused, things go awry.

Also understand that ultimately you are not in control of what comes into your hands, and at any moment things can completely explode. So try not to work for the sake of what you get out of it, but try and enjoy your work for work’s sake.

Ultimately if you proceed in this way, true understanding will fill the space that your unfulfilled desires currently occupy. And if you can genuinely devote yourself to that mindset, your desires will melt away and you will truly find what you are seeking in wealth.

I used to be driven by money, but then I realized the reason I wanted money was so I wouldn’t have to work for other people and put up with crawly-bum-lick micro-managers. I started doing my own thing and my lust for money subsided. I hope this helps.

You need to figure out why you want money. The thing about money is that it stands for everything else (almost), because it can be used to get almost everything else. What do you really want?

Most of us don't want money for money. We want money so that we can get something else - a house, a car, a vacation, retirement, or an identity. From what you said, I suspect that you're in the last category - you want money because having money is going to make you someone - that is, someone special, not just some random schmuck. And money is just the way you think is easiest to get there.

The next question is, why do you want that? I mean, you could just say "Oh, I see why I'm obsessed with money. But there's better ways of being somebody than just getting a pile of money. Maybe I should go cure cancer or something." But the problem is, you won't be chasing a cure for cancer in order to find a cure for cancer; you'll be doing it to make an identity for yourself. And if you fail to find a cure, you'll still be a nobody, and it will eat away at you.

Why do you want an identity? I don't know you at all, but I do know a bit about people. I think that we're looking to love and accept ourselves. I suspect that you're looking for an identity because you don't really love and accept yourself. (And even if you don't want money in order to get an identity, I suspect that loving and accepting yourself is ultimately what you're looking for in whatever lies behind your desire for money.)

Why do we want that? As a Christian, I believe that we were made to know God's love and acceptance of us. If we don't have that, it leaves a hole that nothing else can fill. But the thing that comes closest to filling it is our love and acceptance of ourselves. The ultimate answer is to return to God, to know His love and acceptance of us.

Whether or not you buy the previous paragraph, I suspect that what you're really after is loving and accepting yourself, and that money is just a disguise (perhaps more than one layer of disguise). You need to address the real issue, or you'll quit money only to start obsessively chasing something else.

The trick is to realize that most money is made accidentally and anyone telling you how they did it is ignoring luck. For every 30 year old multimillionaire, there are 2-300 more who did exactly the same as they did, but one got lucky.

I wouldn't wish this on anyone but I lost someone I loved dearly and discovered that I had spent so much time concerned about money instead of spending time with her and that I would give up everything I possibly could just to get a few minutes with her again. I realized that I wasn't the only person who felt that way and that I wasn't ever going to make that mistake again.

Spend more time outside and less time inside reading about rich people. It’s that simple. I’d recommend minimum 3 hours outside no screen every day.

Well let me ask you this. Is your "greed" for money based on an actual need (even if it is say paying off a fairly decent McMansion) or is it that you want money for the sake of it? I dont think having genuine needs like paying off loans (which yo u dont) or kids' college or living comfortably constitutes greed. Id say if you are anticipating retirement that is being cautious than greedy? No?

Don't give up, give in to your greed. You can make millions like the rest if you are willing to trade part of your life away for it and put in the work. Let your greed consume you and drive you. Figure out how to do it without harming others. Your happiness is simply because you haven't found any path towards the journey. The moment you begin your journey your unhappiness will wane.

Start traveling. It will give you a lot of different perspective on how big the world is and what an abstract thing is the concept of money.

I completely agree. You must travel! It's a cliche but it's true: the happiest people are those who live in poorer but highly social communities. Think, latin America and south east Asia. Try southern Mexico, Belize, Peru, Ecuador, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia - you won't regret it for a moment.

But don't stay in a resort: find a high-rated AirBnB with a local host where you feel safe (all of those countries have very safe areas to travel through) and get to know the pace of life for a few days. Personally I find I need 10 days in one place to feel like it's familiar and I can start to understand the rhythms. Visit the local markets and restaurants, stay away from the multinationals like Starbucks and the tourist blackholes like Cancun.

I know for Americans time is valuable, but even a few days flying as far south as you can get will be insightful and energising.

> the happiest people are those who live in poorer but highly social communities. Think, latin America and south east Asia. Try southern Mexico, Belize, Peru, Ecuador, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia

I'm highly sceptical of it. If they're so happy, why so many of people in those countries make desperate efforts to emigrate to a developed country?

I didn't mean to sound glib. Of course not all communities are happy - many are deeply impoverished, overrun with cartels or politic issues, suffering from scarce resources whether from politics or weather-related issues. There is a massive difference between a lower-middle class neighbourhood in Mexico City and a poor village in Honduras where there is no education, jobs or security. The mass immigration isn't happening from areas where people are safe and comfortable, it's happening in places stricken by war for so long that people are desperate. Most people don't want to leave their families, their friends, their communities and culture. So yes, there are amazing parts of the world where in the same country there are people trying to emigrate due to bad circumstance, and those who are truly happy with what they have.

The only reliable solution for temptation is to give in to it.

Why not just devote yourself obsessively to getting money?

Either you’ll get it and see what that’s like, or you’ll learn you don’t actually have sufficient drive to do it, or the right skills.

I mean everyone’s got to do something all day. Just make sure to have a set of ethics and values and continue to abide by them during this pursuit.

I like this answer

Find a counselor to talk with about this. Ask your doctor for recommendations if you don't know who to talk with.

Give this book a try: The subtle art of not giving a fuck[1].

It is about being happy and putting an end to negative thoughts.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Subtle-Art-Not-Giving-Counterintuit...

You are already defining yourself in terms of how much money you make, or spend. Want to be someone else?

Try to define your life as what you are instead of what you have. Most happens inside, where you don't need so much money.

And expending less and winning a lot will help to fulfill your essential needs while having a meaningful life.

First, get off social media. You seem like you are in the trap of comparing yourself and no matter how much money you got, you will keep comparing yourself. So get of the SM platforms for a while. Keep doing your work but examine how you feel after a week or so.

Contemplate your own mortality

Why is it making you unhappy?

I see it as a hobby, like woodcuting or singing for others. There is nothing inherently wrong with being interested in money.

I have a PhD in physics and love science. I earn good money but have zero interest in managing it so I pay someone else for that. Same for house cleaning.

My younger son wants to be a trader at 11, I am telling him this is a good choice but he needs to be good at math. If he makes money on top it is even better.

The older one wanted to study history and I was fine with that as well but he realizes that there are bills to be payed. Since he also likes to choose he will go that way and have history as a hobby.

So maybe if you look at it via the hobby prism it won't look that bad?

Curious, are you living in SF? My suggestion would be to live in a country where cost of living is cheap compared to the US and you’ll realize that you don’t need a whole lot to be happy

It is making me very unhappy and I realise that it's all because of this stupid obsession

Whether it's money or flowers or anything, a passion will do that to you. Programming does that to programmers. What I'm saying is that you might just be passionate about money and frankly, I don't think there is anything wrong with that despite what the average person think. Are you good at your passion? Just become better and you'll be more happy. Don't press the break pedal, press the gas one.

Figure out what money is for, and spend on it.

I recommend a book or at least watching a video on YouTube - Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton

Pay off the mortgage ASAP then worry about it. Debt is the devil’s passion.

Greed is good, embrace it! Money = Freedom!

I don’t think you are greedy actually.

You are dissatisfied, yes, but you aren’t making a ton of money.

Your nervous system is just disregulated, talk to a somatic therapist.

Also, try actually making more money and figuring out how to overcome your internal blocks.

"I just can't shake it" - how do you know that?

I know of no more effective tool to adjust perspective than travel. You need to travel more. Perhaps to Trumpian shitholes would be even more effective.

An then do some camping, near and far.

There are a few things to consider: One is - the point of diminishing returns.

From my personal experience (which would depend on the geographical location and one's spending habits), that point is at about $100,000. In my 9-year career path I went from $40,000 -> $60,000 -> $85,000 -> $90,000 -> $100,000 -> $120,000 -> $120,000+. The change in general appreciation of the raise that happened below $100,000 felt substantial, it almost felt like it made me happier.

But once you reach the level where you can comfortably spend and save large portion of your paycheck, additional $n,000 starts to matter less and less. Sure, it's a good feeling to earn more money, but it doesn't define your happiness anymore. It's become a norm. So going from $150,000 to $200,000 feels so unfulfilling compared to going from $50,000 to $100,000.

The other thing to consider is comparing yourself to others. We all do that to some extent. But if it's an obsession then one will always be unhappy. The thing to realize is there will always be someone who makes more money and lives a wealthier life.

Here's how it goes - if you make $60k and live in an apartment complex there's some neighbor that makes $80k, and drives a newer BMW than you, has a bigger apartment and newer grill. Then you get a raise and make $100k, you buy a small house in a different neighborhood. Once you settle in you will start to notice that there are neighbors that have bigger house/drive Tesla model S, have bigger backyard. You get another raise and start making $200k, you buy a 2500 sqft house in a different neighborhood. There, a few neighbor(s) make $500k, and drive Lambos. Then you work hard, and you start your own business and it becomes successful, and you start pocketing in $500k, and buy a Lambo yourself, and also move to a beachfront house. Then there're beachfront houses that are bigger than yours, and some neighbors have 5 supercars. Then your business grows, and you start making $2M a year, and you upgrade your beachfront house to a bigger beachfront house, and buy 5 supercars. Now there's a neighbor that has a few luxurious villas in different states and internationally, then there's another neighbor that has a private yacht, and another one that has a private jet. There's another one that has 3 private jets, then there's another one that owns a football team, and so on...you get the point.

Chasing specific amount of money that would make you happy will ultimately leave you unfulfilled because in comparison to other people there will always be someone who makes more.

Of course, there are exceptions to that like - Zuckerberg, Gates, other billionaires - but being a realist how likely is one to become a billionaire in a lifetime. I mean, if that's your ultimate goal - good luck. But something tells me most billionaires didn't have a goal in mind to become a billionaire, it wasn't their primary focus but rather a byproduct of their success and passion.

Many people in this thread have good advice, I don't, because I came into my opposing situation through a series of unfortunate career events. In terms of advice, @Improvotter has my favorite bit. Here's my meandering and sort of brief story.

The situation I've found myself in exactly the opposite of yours, in the sense that money, wealth, and the things that come with it, haven't been motivating aspects of work for years, almost to a problematic extent. I still negotiate numbers for new prospective jobs, but only on principle. I won't let a regular company or startup underpay me.

I'm 26 now, but between 19-22 I was exclusively focused on career progression and money. I'd put work before my relationships—romantic and social—and everything I did was framed by how much I was spending or making. The short version of what happened since then, is that I was laid off, then fired, fired, and fired again. After the final time, which was a corporate job I wasn't culturally suited for but offered me the most I've ever made as a developer (~$75000) I was in a position where I now had an apartment and bills to pay for. I was also burnt out and uninspired. Up until that point I had a network that helped me find other positions, but not this time. I had to go through the hellish interviewing process. After many unsuccessful attempts and well over a year of being unemployed, I stopped trying. This was because I realized that I had to make some changes and that I was abusing my time and sanity for companies I didn't care about, but that paid well. I was also in no position to be picky about anything, being out of money and with no prospects. So I focused on my social life, started traveling, living in my car, attending conferences to see what I'd find stronger interests in, etc. Now I only get this weird feeling when I think about money. I look at the amounts new grads can pull in at notable companies and I think something's broken. Why can't I care about this enough to compete for it? These people—and maybe you're one of them—are making literally more money than I will ever make, but it doesn't drive me at all. To get to those positions, I'd have to find a progression of deep interests that I can navigate instead.

Anyway, I'm now being paid roughly $30/hour CAD to work on an open data portal based on python for a uni. I'm doing it remotely, so I can travel around the U.S and explore while doing the work. It's interesting and pays me barely enough to get by, but I don't resent what I spend my time on. I'm somewhat actively interviewing with select companies as well. Expectations are low but it's good to stay sharp. It would be nice to have savings, and hopefully one day I'll find myself in a better position in that regard. But right now I've managed to drag myself out of the other end of the unhappy hole.

Incidentally it also forced me to take up some miscellaneous low end jobs like Starbucks barista and manual labor which was a nice change.

Maybe quitting and exploring other avenues of life while not thinking mainly about work or money is what could spark a change for you.

Just get your shit together

I like the way you think

Ask yourself: WHY do you want money? You'll find the answers here.

Rich people usually value time >>>>>> money, as time can never be recovered. Money can be lost and earned at any point in time in masses, and earning money is not hard. Every second and day you live you'll only experience once, then it's gone. And the time you live here is FINITE, thus inherently short. In the last 25 years (or however old you are), did you already do EVERYTHING you wanted on this planet? Are you ready to go?

These kind of questions should help you figure the "why" behind money.


Didn’t John Mayer sing a song called Waiting for the World to Change?


Ah thanks for the idea, I've been going about my trolly comments on HN all wrong. On second thoughts, if everyone did that (create an account for every likely-to-be-downvoted comment) then HN would suck massively.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact