Why people stop at wanting “more”

Blue gate

So I’ve talked about the problem with just saying that you “want more”. In most contexts, I hear it about money, but there are plenty of other areas where we use this wording. People want “more” time. People want “more” community. I ran the Shamrock Run again this past weekend, and the temptation to say that I wanted to “run farther” or “run faster” is pretty strong.

But a goal that is non-specific is also unachievable. No matter what you accomplish, it won’t be enough.

And not being enough, well, isn’t enough. Not for me at least.

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The problem with wanting “more”

Light blobs

“I wish I had more money.”

I hear this at discussion groups, coaching sessions, and even just conversations with friends. I can’t help but remember that commercial from my childhood for a trade school, with Sally Struthers as spokesperson: “Do you want to make more money? Of course, we all do.

But do we really?

Yes, I’m going to push back on the idea of “more money”. And not for some minimalist, live-simply-so-others-may-simply-live woo-woo inclination.

It’s because it’s a goal you can never achieve.

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A salve for those who have not found success yet


I’ve always had big—if not always specific—dreams.

To be a musician and fill concert halls, to be a sound engineer and produce bands, to build a large and vibrant online community, to be a financial coach, to be able to travel the world as much as I want, to work for myself. Anything to escape the life that everyone expects everyone else to lead. The whole gut-wrenchingly boring “Well, it’s almost the weekend” comments that people make on elevators.

You may not have dreams that look anything like this, but I know that you have dreams of your own. Moreover, these are probably as-yet-unrealized dreams, dreams that are still in play, dreams where you might wonder if they will ever come to fruition.

It can be a frustrating place to be, I know. But there is some upside to not having found success yet.

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Where do you put short-term savings?

Roulette wheel

I was asked this question recently:

I have about $10,000 that I don’t need to touch for a while, and I was thinking of investing it so I could make the most of it. Where do you recommend I put it?

This is a great question, because it has a lot of nuance, so it’s not just a simple “No” kind of answer (like the questions: “Should I buy loaded mutual funds?” or “Should I hold on to my mortgage so I can get the tax deduction?“)

The answer concerns what other assets you have and your timeline, so even if you don’t have $10,000, this or something similar will probably come up for you.

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How to withdraw money from an ATM in a foreign country (and not get swindled)

Canadian flag

So, purchasing something in a different currency when traveling out of the country isn’t as simple as it sounds. If you’re not careful, you can get charged extra, depending on what entity does the conversion.

This is also starting to happen at ATMs as well. Which means that you have even more opportunities to make decisions that could cost you.

I was recently in Canada, and while I was there, I hit up an ATM. I didn’t need much cash, only 20 CAD (CAnadian Dollars), enough to handle the tiny purchases where a card just wouldn’t make sense.

At the fee display screen, I saw that I would be charged 3 CAD for using the ATM. That’s no more annoying than using an unknown ATM in the US, so I was prepared to let it go. (My credit union refunds ATM transaction fees too.)

But then I was given an option to be charged in Canadian dollars or U.S. dollars.

ATM screen

Notice the TM on the “Your Home Currency Now” tagline. It’s a sure sign that something is afoot.

Now, given all that I’ve said, I chose to be charged in the local currency, the 23 CAD route.

But what about my other option? It was to be charged in 18.26 USD. What was the difference?

A fair amount, actually.

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What currency do you pay with when traveling abroad?

Bath bombs

I just returned from a week-long excursion to Vancouver Island in Canada.

Vancouver Island

Geography pro-tip: Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island. Victoria is on Vancouver Island. And don’t call it Victoria Island. (Image from Wikipedia.)

I very much enjoy traveling to our health-care loving neighbor to the north, and not just because I have NEXUS (which can make the crossing much easier), but because it is a beautiful part of the world, especially the west coast, which is like Portland and Seattle only more epic.

But one aspect that this area of Canada shares with Portland is that it gets cold and wet as a matter of routine.

And so what does one do when in this situation? Head to a store and buy a bath bomb, of course. (Priorities, people.)

And while at the checkout counter, bath bomb in hand, I was asked a question by the payment machine itself: Pay in Canadian dollars, or pay in U.S. dollars?

It turns out that even the proprietor didn’t know what the best answer was.

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To your good health

Tissue box

I talk a lot (endlessly, some might say) about how to change your habits and make massive changes in your life, specifically with money. Being wealthy isn’t about making a ton of money (ask any NFL star who filed for bankruptcy), it’s about keeping more of what what you have. It’s about small actions taken over a long period of time.

$100 won’t make you rich. But $100 a month for your entire working life will definitely help you get there.

But it’s worth recalling that working toward these goals can rely on a certain number of privileges and assumptions that we might often take for granted. Until we can’t.

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Is fear of losing money (or love) the only thing you’ve gained?


We all have started out with some level of privilege.

Whether it’s the privilege of being born in a middle class home, being born tall or extremely good looking, or even just being born in a country where water was clean, food was plentiful, and security was assured.

And it from this point that we strive. We strive to “climb up”, to accomplish, to do better for ourselves than where we started.

This is a good impulse, but it comes with a concern.

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Prince vs. The Barnes Foundation: do you even need a will?

Catherine wheel firework

I’ve found myself quite avoidant to the task of getting a will.

Then again, it’s a question worth asking: Do you really need a will?

Now, I Am Not A Lawyer, as the saying goes, but I do have some thoughts on the matter.

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How (not) getting a will showed me why we don’t think about finances


I’m really enjoying my life right now. More to the point, I certainly don’t have any plans for it to end anytime soon.

But, well, you know, let’s face it, I’ve read the statistics, and one out of every one person dies eventually. Even the Rolling Stones will have to stop touring at some point.

Rolling Stones live

Keep it going guys. Photo courtesy of Zhu

So I’ve been thinking about wills, and putting one in place for myself.

Unfortunately, this is as far as I’ve gotten. For about five years now.

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