When I was 12 years old, I wanted to be rich. Other little girls had posters of boy-bands in their room and I had posters of Porsches. I didn’t grow up poor but we weren’t rolling in dough, either. Road trips and camping instead of flights and hotels. Relative to the rest of the world, super lucky. But I wanted more.

I met my goal. Got a Porsche. Actually, got three. And the more I accumulated, the more I indulged in the belief that money didn’t matter to me. That I’d risen above materialism. As though materialism is something dirty above which the enlightened rise. In my effort to live an examined life in all areas, I decided to define my financial philosophy.

I will live within my means.
I will not consume for status.
I will maintain a conviction of abundance instead of a fear of scarcity.

I have recently experienced a reversal of fortune. And the opportunity to test my philosophy. Oh goodie.

I found out that when I live within my means when my means are dick all, I really, really appreciate any and all luxuries. On a recent holiday funded almost entirely by points and my parents’ generosity, I took my girls to one of my favourite restaurants. There was no kids’ menu in sight and entrees started at $50. Bloody hell! I had an appetizer. The girls had a feast. And they loved it. And I loved that.

I found out that my net worth had become intertwined with my self worth. I felt the sting of embarrassment when I ordered that appetizer. And I found out that nobody gives two shits about my net worth. Instead of contempt, I felt kindness and empathy from our waitress. That seems like a no-brainer. But my ego is a dumb-dumb.

I found out that it’s easy to feel abundance when I have abundance. And difficult to hang onto that conviction when I don’t. That it feels great to eliminate wasteful consumption and it feels like crap to waste energy worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to retire while I’m in the double-digits.

I found out that I do appreciate things money can buy. That I appreciate living in a nice home where I can see the ocean. Flights instead of road trips. Hotels instead of camping. And I found out that I was wrong. Money does matter. So, I’m hanging up the Porsche posters and getting to work.


Written by Kelly LaVallie of “The Pursuit of Mastery”