Money itself isn’t the problem. Money itself isn’t bad or good. Money itself doesn’t have power or not have power. It is our interpretation of money, our interaction with it, where the real mischief is and where we find the real opportunity for self-discovery and personal transformation.― Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life

One of the questions my clients often grapple with when they’re trying to get clear about what’s next is how much money they really need to earn. Often, they have almost no idea of what they’re earning or spending, and other times, they just don’t know what “enough” would look like. 

This makes sense given that many of us are raised with a difficult relationship with “enough.” Perhaps your grandparents were raised during the depression and learned to save every last scrap. Or your parents always made ends meet but instilled in you a feeling of never being or having enough. Or maybe you were raised without enough food on the table and now make a good income but always feel like you need more.

If you’ve had challenging early experiences with money, it can be tricky to determine what “enough” means. 

That said, I invite you to challenge yourself to look at what “enough” means to you and to identify your personal Enough Point.

Your Enough Point is the amount of money you need to earn to be at your peak of fulfillment. You may currently be living below your Enough Point, bringing home less money than you need to feel truly fulfilled. Or, you may be living above your Enough Point, feeling burdened by having to show up for work you don’t love to make money you don’t need. At your Enough Point, you’re easily paying for your basic needs, living comfortably, and even enjoying some luxuries.

To discover your personal Enough Point, we’ll first determine your Bare Necessities level and your Dream Lifestyle level. 

Know that your answers today may be different than they were in the past or will be in the future. Just listen for what’s coming up now. And if you have a hard time answering the questions below, I encourage you first to get clear about how much money you have and how much you’re earning and spending (this article will tell you how). 

First, Bare Necessities:

This is the level at which you’re covering your basic needs. You get to decide what that includes. Look over your expenses from the last couple of months. How much money do you need to cover your basic monthly budget (housing, bills, food, debt repayment, other financial obligations)? Get this down to an actual number. 

Dream Lifestyle:

This is where you allow yourself to dream of what you most desire. Dreaming doesn’t mean that you forsake your values or live in a way that is ecologically or socially irresponsible. It means giving yourself permission to imagine that you were able to fund each of your callings and dreams fully. Take some time to get clear on how much you’d need to earn to live this lifestyle.

Your Enough Point:

Your enough point is likely somewhat higher than Bare Necessities and lower than Dream Lifestyle. Ask yourself— 

  • What goods, services, and/or experiences would bring you greater joy? This may include saving for retirement, buying a home, paying for college or extracurriculars for your kids, contributing to social change, traveling, going to plays and concerts, or anything else that would bring you joy. 
  • How much money would you need to earn per year to fulfill these desires? 
  • How much money do you need to feel truly fulfilled? 

This number may be higher than you think, but it may also be lower. Feel in your body for the place where the pressure of having to earn more is greater than the stress of not having enough. Feel for the place at which you feel real peace. That’s the place where you have enough. Get it down to an actual number. And keep this number in mind as you contemplate what’s next in your career.

What if you’re not living at enough.

You might be reading this and thinking— I know what enough would be, but I’m not anywhere near there. 

If you’re struggling financially right now, I want you to know that I see you. I was once a single mom on food stamps, and even then, I was afforded privileges that many people are not. I know how hard financial stress can be, and I appreciate you for showing up and doing your best to create change for yourself.

Also, I want to recognize the huge role that money and other privileges play in determining our career path. The privileges each of us are able to access— skin color, class, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, location, education, citizenship, and so forth— dramatically influence how easy of a time we have creating work we love and making the money we need. 

Access to money, resources, and connections is largely influenced by systemic factors outside of our immediate control. I grapple with how to address these structural challenges in my writing, and I have yet to find quick or easy answers. 

I do have one offering, however. 

If you’re struggling with money problems that feel insurmountable, I encourage you to play with the Guiding Question practice. 

In this practice, you choose a question that doesn’t have an immediate solution and that you may not be able to solve alone. Your question may be something like— How do I engage in activism while still supporting my family? How do I earn what I need and have time left over to care for all my other needs?

When you live your question fully, asking it when you wake up in the morning and before you fall asleep at night, and do not force an answer, often space is opened to paths you never predicated and solutions you never considered. This is not an easy answer, and it must be accompanied by structural change, but it is one that I’ve seen work wonders.

And, I’d be curious to learn about your personal experience with enoughness. 

What have you learned about enoughness from this article or from life in general? And what questions are you still grappling with?

I’d love to hear from you! Please post a comment below, and I will make sure to respond!

Wishing you so much courage, perseverance, and enoughness,

Katherine

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