In high school, I was chatting with a friend about an item that I had just sold on eBay. It had sold for far more than I had expected it to and my friend was shocked that it sold at all, let alone that it sold for that much. We laughed about it and then he shook his head and said:

It amazes me what things people would rather have than money.

In a strange way, that has always been my philosophy with “stuff.” If I’m faced with the decision to keep an item or to sell it, I ask myself which I would rather have: this thing or money. As a collector, very often the answer is that whatever strange item is something I would genuinely prefer to have instead of money, a decision my old high school friend would probably shake his head at as money ranked high on his list. But if I answer money, out the door that item goes!

This little test works for life as well. You get an offer to pick up an extra shift at work but your friends want you to go to the movies with them. Depending on how badly you need the cash, you may decide that you don’t want an evening out as bad as you want the money. But if you are desperate for a night out, you’d rather have a good time with your friends than the money.

Whether you realize it or not, you make hundreds of tiny decisions like this every day. Each time you go to work when you’d rather just stay home and sit on your butt, you are deciding that you would rather have money (in this case, a steady job) than a day off.

If you hire someone to help with your business, you are deciding that you would rather have that extra time for yourself than money.

Either way, you are weighing the two options in your head and deciding that one wins out.

As they say, money makes the world go around and it is a deciding factor in just about everything we do, whether we realize it or not.

But while you need to put money above some things from a practical standpoint (lest you have no money for food), it’s easy to falling into habit and make money the default decision. While there are many times when you may rather have money than whatever is on the other end of the decision, money isn’t always the answer.

Those items I decide to keep instead of sell, I keep because they give me joy and they make me happy. I’m not willing to trade that for money, I’d rather have the feeling they give me.

  • Would you rather have more time with your family than money?
  • Would you rather be less busy than have money?
  • Would you rather have the fun of going out to eat or the money you save by cooking at home?
  • Would you rather have the new gadget or money?

There isn’t a right answer. Case by case, you’ll find yourself deciding what in your life you’d rather have or do instead of pursuit of your career or just the money you need to survive. You already make these decisions every day of your life but, as we come off the middle of the year, it’s a good time to think about these unconscious decisions.

Have you fallen into a habit where you always choose in favor of money? Do you always make money your lowest priority to your detriment? The key to happiness lies in finding the balance.