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My friend, Dr. Stephen Granade, posted to his blog about the widening income gap and how people in this country make quite a bit of money, yet still feel as if they’re poor.  I commend you to read his post as he has a way with words which far exceeds my puerile scrawlings.  However, I did have a reaction to a discussion of his post on a social network we are both a part of that I wanted to share in more detail (as well as preserve for later should I need to remind myself of it).

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but not having money can sure as hell make you miserable.  You need money to live in today’s society, so unless you’re living on your own in the woods hunting, fishing and gathering for sustenance, you need some amount of money to live.  If you’re able to take care of your necessities (food, clothing, shelter, transportation to your job), then everything else can be defined as comfort . . . especially things like cable TV, going to the movie, going out to eat, etc.  Just because you won’t know what people are talking about around the water cooler when they discuss the latest movie, the hot new show on HBO or the awesome bistro downtown that doesn’t mean it’s a necessity for you to be able to engage in those activities. . . unless your job is to do so, and then your company should give you a bloody expense account for that stuff. Just because you’re not as comfortable as other people doesn’t mean you have a valid reason for complaining about it.  Complain all you want, but don’t be surprised if people don’t take you seriously. In my life I’ve been poor as in “live in my car because I couldn’t afford rent while eating mac and cheese/ramen” poor.  I’m doing a lot better now.  I’ve found my happiness depends far more on my friends and relationships than on the size of my paycheck.  I’ve been miserable while making lots of money and been ecstatic while utterly destitute.  If I become destitute again, I will definitely complain, but it’ll be about my bad financial decisions and how I was an idiot for making them (something I am still working through even though I’m doing very well now). Saying “I feel bad because I don’t feel rich” is just pissing and moaning.  If I ever do that, feel free to smack me for it. In Stephen’s blog post, folks living/working in New York City and having a household income over $250k/year say they don’t feel rich.  Well, that’s too bad.  You live in the most vibrant, international city on this continent.  You have great mass transit options, can go to Broadway shows, have two football, two baseball, two basketball and a hockey team in your metro area, have some of the best restaurants in the world (both the big shot places as well as the dives), have unparalleled cultural options and are the center for financial and media operations for the country.  You don’t get to complain, so suck it up, buttercup. You want the lifestyle, you gotta pay for it.  And if you complain “But I feel poor…” maybe you shouldn’t be using money as the measuring stick, because leading a rich life isn’t about money. . . it’s about realizing what you have and being thankful for it.