PERSONAL FINANCE: How much money is ever enough?

Friday July 06 2018

Because of several bad decisions in the business, which he now admits were driven by greed, it is no longer operational. PHOTO | FILE


Steve has always wanted to have lots of money. It started out with wanting to move to a nicer house, drive a car, live better, entertain well and more money was the answer.

He was great at his job and got several promotions which came with several pay rises. But somehow, this was never enough. The increase would come and he would enjoy it for about two months, then start seeing how much more there was to buy.

Steve got married and now has two children. The wants have increased. He wanted his children to go to certain schools, buy a great house, go on nice holidays, please the relatives, etc.

At some point he decided that earning money via a salary was not going to ever satisfy him. He would listen to stories about people in business (what I like to refer to as myths) and how much money they made and he then decided that this was the life for him.

He got partners who were able to put some capital into a business and took the leap, his biggest motivation being that he wanted to earn more money. The business did just OK for about two years then it got a really good contract from multinational company, and this is when the big bucks started rolling in.

Steve was earning more than ever. However, he still found that this was it was not enough. Instead, he found himself with a lot of fear of not being able to achieve more as well as trying to hang on to what he had.


Because of several bad decisions in the business, which he now admits were driven by greed, it is no longer operational. Steve is now looking for other opportunities and is open to exploring both employment and business.


I had this conversation with Steve after he had taken time to digest what had happened. Many of us are on this hamster wheel, chasing more and more, and never finding satisfaction. Like Steve, we cheat ourselves that more money will make us feel whole.

Money cannot be your identity. If you get a million, you’ll want two, then five, then 100. It is OK to want more but understand what brings true fulfilment. Steve reckons his business lost sight of providing true value to clients and they even ignored other opportunities as they were looking at who could pay what.

He has now understood that earning well is great, but he wants to work for more than just a pay check. He wants a great family life more than he wants to have an expensive vacation. He admits dropping the ball on this in search of money. He wants a nice car and a nice house but it also does not define him. This also became easier once he stopped trying to impress other people.

More money without the right foundation will breed insecurity, not confidence. He has also learnt that when you get money the wrong way, you will lose it at some point. From the get-go, his partnership arrangement was not ideal but he wasn’t willing to look past the capital. The business was really bound to collapse.

Steve is actually grateful for this experience. Had the business continued growing with this dysfunctional relationship with money, he would have been far worse off and may never have recovered. We can all use this lesson from Steve no matter where we are.

Maybe if we look back on our lives we also have experiences that can teach us something. Is there really an amount of money that will be enough or should you be figuring out what you truly value and brings you fulfilment? Money is good to have but you cannot buy true satisfaction, confidence or sense of achievement with it. What really makes your life enough?


Waceke runs programmes on personal finance & entrepreneurship. Get in touch with her on [email protected] | Facebook / WacekeNduati | [email protected]