What is your number?

A woman sued the the City of New York for $900,000,000,000 (trillion) dollars for taking away her kids.  My college roommate once asked me, “How much do you want to earn?” I told him $500,000 per year. The crazy woman from NYC and I have a lot more in common than I want to admit.

My younger self foreshadowed my financial needs in life to be sustained by a salary of $500,000. Similar to the crazy woman’s number, mine was just as arbitrary. At that time the most I had ever earned was $5,000, but I needed a 9990% increase in my annual income to be worry free and happy.

I often think to myself: Why is it that in work we work countless hours planning for next years budgets, but in our personal lives we are so laissez-faire?

Money enables you to support the lifestyle you want, but the reality is that many of us never take a moment to think about what lifestyle we want, why we want that lifestyle, why will that lifestyle make you happy or, what is enough?

Despite all of our informal education — reading books, watching TV and movies, listening to family and friends, etc. — and formal education — K-12, College, etc. — the only thing we learned was “earn a lot of money.”

If you never question your needs and wants, then you will be like zombie chasing something that does not exist.

What do you really, really, really want?  Or, what really, really, really makes you happy? I try to ask myself this almost every morning, but the question is really important. Do I want to be the CEO of Google? Do I want to be a teacher? Do I want to be a farmer? Do I want to be an artist? Do I want a family? Do I want children? Do I want a roof over my head?

On average you have ~30,000 days to live: ~15,000 of them will be spent working; and, the remaining 15,000 days are hopefully spent living how you want. 15,000 days worth of work are financing the remaining 15,000 days.

If you are happy and passionate with your work and it is helping you enjoy the remaining 15,000 days, you are blessed — be grateful. If you are happy with your work and it is helping you enjoy the remaining 15,000 days, awesome — you are living the good life. If you are not happy with your work and it is helping you enjoy the remaining 15,000 days, good — congratulations you are living half the good life. If you are not happy your work and it is not helping you enjoy the remaining 15,000 days, run — cut your losses and make some big changes.

Whatever scenario you find yourself in, you should seek to optimize your 30,000 days.

What is my number? I have pulled together a Google Spreadsheet here (or, click image). Copy it to your Google Docs and figure out what your number is!

Step 1: What are the basics of your lifestyle? Think about the basics shelter, food and healthcare. At the end of the day, those are the things you need to “survive” as a human.

    • Roof over your head? Utilities?
    • Food?
    • Healthcare expenses?
    • Other?

Step 2: How much do you want to save? Think about retirement savings, life insurance, etc.

    • Roth IRA? 401K?
    • Life Insurance?
    • Emergency Savings?

Step 3: What are all the expenses beyond the basics? Think about all the movies, the iPhones/iPads, clothes, etc.

    • Entertainment? Movies? 
    • Vacation?
    • Travel?
    • Charity?

Now, that you have your number: Ask yourself why? Why do you want x, y or z? And, then ask yourself why five more times? Do you want this amount of money because you watched Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous all the time? Or, is it based on a sincere and authentic desire based on what you want.

Please share your thoughts below and pass this on if you feel it is useful.

All good things,


(Photo by 401k)