Read time: 3 minutes, or get to the point.
Most people agree that you can have too much or too little of just about everything. Our bodies are pretty unforgiving about letting us know when this is the case, as long as it’s something they need to stay alive. But even when it’s not a matter of life or death, we tend to have a pretty good idea of what range of something is reasonable. For example, we know when we have too much time on our hands because we feel bored, and we know we have too little when we’re stressed.
But what about money? Is there such a thing as too much money? I think lots of people would say there isn’t. It’s one thing that I’ve often wondered about myself. I think everyone agrees that you can have too little money, but the amount would vary widely depending on who you ask. To answer this question, it helps to remember what the purpose of money is. Its purpose is not to be a piece of paper or a number on a screen. The singular purpose of money is to be exchanged for goods and services. Money can provide other benefits, like the feeling of security when you have a lot of it, but if its power of being able to be traded for goods and services was taken away, then that security would disappear with it.
So in that way, money is a tool, and just like any tool, it’s only useful when you use it. You could say “but if I had a bajillion dollars, I would use it! I would buy cars, houses, yachts, pools, fancy vacations, and clothes!” And maybe you would. But, you can have too much of all of those things too. For me personally, too many cars is any more than the 1 I have. Same goes for houses. For me, too many yachts is just 1. I imagine everyone has a limit for everything on that list, and everyone’s limit for each thing is probably different.
So, what happens when you have enough of everything and you have enough money to keep all of those things for the rest of your life? In that case, you have enough money. If you have a dime more than that, you have too much money. The cool thing is, for the most part, you get to decide what having enough of everything means. There are some physical limitations (food, shelter, and water), but other than that, the less you want, the more freedom you have to decide what “enough” means for you. Dumbledore said it best when he was talking about the Mirror of Erised (which for anyone who doesn’t know, shows you what you most deeply desire).
The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.Dumbledore
However, if you don’t take the time to figure that out and make that make that decision, then you can experience what’s called hedonic adaptation, otherwise known as lifestyle inflation. Not making a decision about how much qualifies as “enough” for you could send you into a spiral of wanting more and more every time you get more money, which means you never have enough. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to this: figure out what you want. Figuring out what you want means you can have enough. It also means you may find yourself actually having too much!
So the answer to the question is, yes you can have too much money, and the solution is simple: just give it away! When you die, any money you have left over is going to be given to your family anyway, so you might as well give it away before then. Giving now has the added perk of being able to watch as the organizations or people you give money to grow and benefit from what you give.
Yes, you can have too much money, but you’ll only know it if you decide what enough means to you. If you find yourself with too much money, give it away.