A Healthy Obsession with Money

I’m obsessed with money.

I think about earning, saving, and growing money most of the day. I’ve written about money for more than seven years. 

Saying someone is obsessed with money might conjure to mind words like greed, fame, power, influence, and opulence.

Picture a celebrity flashing fancy clothes and jewelry on Instagram and their millions of envious followers.

Or a hedge fund manager posing in front of a Hamptons mansion for a Fortune Magazine feature. How much is enough?

Money and politics? Barf.

But money is a powerful tool for good. 

Sites like GoFundMe help us support families in our communities when they suffer a trauma.

International charities such as Doctors Without Borders and World Central Kitchen can’t operate without generous financial donations.

The pursuit of money for abuse of power or to oppress others is a stain on humanity.

But a healthy obsession with money, for individuals, leads to smarter money decisions.

Years of making smart money decisions will eventually lead to personal wealth. 

Wealth provides financial security, the ability to purchase useful things and meaningful experiences, and the opportunity to give to others — all of which make our lives better.

But the reason I’m obsessed with money is that it gives me options

Options When Unemployed

In late summer 2017, I learned that the project paying for my employment would endure deep funding cuts. Management had to reduce staff. 

I was particularly vulnerable as a subcontractor. 

Though my experience and tenure might have been enough to carry me through the cuts, I asked the project managers to let me go. 

They dropped me, forcing my employer to lay me off (I wasn’t happy with my employer, but that’s a different story).

It all happened within a few days. I didn’t have a new job to fall back on.

I wanted to leverage my expertise to build on my career, finding a better employer with excellent benefits and growth opportunities. 

That kind of job wasn’t immediately available. I had to wait for it. 

We had about $19,000 in emergency savings and $1,000+ of monthly income from investments and a rental property.

Instead of heading to the unemployment office, I focused on my side business to earn supplemental income. 

Sufficient emergency savings, investment income, and side income gave me the option to be patient during a potentially precarious situation. 

Over the next four months, I enjoyed the freedom to take my kids to school every morning, exercise at my leisure, and work on something I cared about (writing).

As much as I enjoyed it, the job market was strong. A few months after becoming unemployed, I landed an optimal position with my ideal employer.

$19,000 in cash savings was enough to support us for enough time to find the right job instead of the most immediate.

But my options were still limited.

I needed to go back to full-time work. 

More Money = More Options

It’s been three years now at my current employer. They have a ridiculously good retirement plan, which I’ve maxed out since day one. 

Our family has benefited from the continued stock market ascension, doubling down during the COVID-19 induced turbulence in Spring 2020. 

Selling the condo gave us a cash cushion that’s largely intact. 

We have paid-for cars, a reasonable mortgage, and we’ll pay our last preschool tuition payment next month.

Our investments continue to earn and pay us even while we sleep. 

If the stock market crashes 50%, we can ride it out. 

All this to say, we are more financially secure today than we’ve ever been. 

Giving us options. 

Our savings and income-producing assets are enough to break the salary addiction if we choose. 

Though I’m still worshiping the golden handcuffs and doing good work, I have a little Post-it note on my computer monitor reminding me that I don’t need the stinkin’ job. 

We’re close to hitting our financial independence number. The FI math gives us confidence that we are financially secure.

I work a full-time job by choice now, no longer out of necessity. 

That distinction gives me leverage and flexibility in my career. 


Not because of my college degree, or one big raise, or a spectacular investment idea, or luck. 

What got us here is my healthy obsession with money — making more smart money decisions than bad every week for more than two decades and letting compound interest do its thing. 

I’m not certain of where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing in five years. But I am certain that cash in the bank broadens the possibilities. 

Greater Good

Your money situation doesn’t improve on its own — you have to work at it. 

Obsession might be a step further than most people are willing to go. 

That’s why developing smart money habits is essential. 

Save first, spend second. Automate your investments. Grow your income and keep what you earn. Don’t borrow money for dumb reasons. Think decades, not days. Diversify. 

It doesn’t take an obsession to make a difference — it only takes a few hours of thought per month.

And most of all, patience.

As individuals and families strengthen their financial situations, our society improves.

Individual financial security leads to shared benefits:

  • Community: Financial security spreads to family and neighbors.
  • Entrepreneurship: Wealth enables calculated risk-taking. Businesses create jobs. 
  • Healthy homes: Fewer financial troubles are better for relationships.
  • Consumption: Spending fosters economic activity.
  • Charity: Prosperity and giving rise in tandem. 
  • Social needs: One person’s financial security frees resources for another who needs help.

When we all strengthen our personal financial lives, we collectively raise the tide — one person, couple, family, and community at a time.

Do your part. It’s in your control. 

Obsessions Don’t Go Away

When our family has “enough” money, we won’t suddenly become spendthrifts. 

I won’t stop watching the stock market, and I’ll probably keep striving to earn more. 

Money provides more than options, experiences, charity, and nice things. 

It’s fun and fascinating, too — especially when there’s more of it. 

2021 has proven this true with Bitcoin, IPOs, SPACs, short squeezes, and massive stimulus on the way. 

More young investors are becoming obsessed with money too — hopefully in a good way. 

Build personal wealth to create options in your life and contribute to the greater good. 

Featured photo via DepositPhotos used under license.


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  1. Nancy Finney says:

    Keep it coming! Sending this article out to several

  2. I was considering the notion of spreadsheet wealth vs ‘felt wealth’ after the purchase of a Gregory Baltoro 65l backpack for an upcoming 24 mile hike this month. The backpack, a Rolls-Royce of backpacks, cost me less than $250…I compared this to the recent up 2% market day and the change in wealth there…and how little that wealth mattered/affected me. I hope to be cashing in a little more on the felt wealth category as my wealth increases. I enjoy saving and knowing it’s there for the future…but as I edge closer to greater wealth/some semblance of FI (no where near)…I want to be taking small steps towards a better quality of life. Time off while employed is one huge felt wealth for me. Weekends are great but lol, being off on a work day…with or without pay…that I like. Finding a better balance there is key for my sustainability in the golden handcuffs. Keep up the great writing. Always enjoyable.

    1. The Rolls Royce of backpacks. I like that. I was always more of an Eagle Creek fan for travel. The Gregory’s seem to be favored by the hiking crowd.

      I have days like that, when the market swings 2% up or down and my net worth moves many thousands in one direction or another. Yet I still contemplate driving an extra two miles to save 10 cents on gas.

      At some point, maybe I will be less interested in money. Especially for the mundane decisions like where to get gas. I do find myself worrying less about money in some areas. For example, my wife and I didn’t want to wait a year for the fifth season of Outlander, so we bought it for $21. Considering how much we’ve spent socially this past year, the cost was very little for the 10 hours of entertainment it provided.

  3. I think you’ll find when you actually believe that you have more than enough that you won’t obsess or even think about money any more except as a blogging topic. I am retiring from an eight hour a week job that has made me six figures a year for the last five years of retirement because I’m not enjoying it enough. If money still mattered to me even slightly that would be crazy, but it doesn’t, so it isn’t. There really is no difference between my unpaid volunteer work and the paid work I was doing except I’m not tired of the volunteer work, in fact I’m looking for at least eight hours more of it.

    1. Hey Steve… I hope that’s true. My obsession has gotten me to a good place, but I’m not yet ready to say it’s ‘more than enough’. That buffer makes all the difference. When I get there, perhaps I’ll lighten up. It’s good to hear you’ll get to volunteer more once you end your paid work.

  4. accidentallyretired says:

    Yeah, I agree with you here. After selling my company and working for an addition five years at the company we sold do, I stopped thinking/worrying about money altogether. It wasn’t until I Accidentally Retired that I have started to obsess about it more. I hope to get back to the ignore it stage of money. We are close, but I have to bridge our small FI gap. After that I’ll feel much better.

    1. Seems like with your experience building and selling a business, and still being young, that you’ll have no trouble bridging the FI gap. People like you (entrepreneurs) don’t rest easily without a new project. I’ll check out your blog to learn more about what you’re up to now that you’ve retired.

  5. This reminds me of how poor I am at judging magnitude. My cable bill is going up to $45/month and its somehow upsetting…even though spending $45 for a dinner for me and a friend is no where on my radar. Any monthly expense is a major scrutiny item. I save $1,000 with very little discomfort/and at low valuation/respect…but paying an extra $150/load of dirt at my house bugs me big time and I’m letting it drag a 2 week project into a much bigger ordeal time wise and mentally…this is a mistake.

    Fortunately, I did some gearing up for a hiking trip with very little regard for price. I found the stove/sleeping pad/bag/boots I wanted and just got them…and was so pleased at having the right gear for the occasion and knowing it’ll be serving me for the next 10-20 years. I used to pride myself on how little I could get something done for while still maintaining a value/quality threshold. Now I’m at the high quality/high stylistic preference side of things and that’s been enjoyable on many levels.

    I do still live/save as if I’m preparing for a major financial crisis but still don’t live without much of anything….but do look forward to mentally flipping the switch to…okay, now enjoy what you’ve saved/go live a life more of your choosing…the money obligations are settled. I tell my dad all the time, “the worse thing you could do is die and leave me a lot of money. Please, go enjoy yourself…if nothing else, to show me how it’s done.” Hopefully I’ll be smart enough to realize when that’s possible and prudent for myself. I enjoy this topic. Thanks for the followup comment RBD.