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Whether it’s savings or investing, getting the goalpost to stop moving – or at least move slower than your income grows – is the only way to both be happy with what you have and ensure you don’t push beyond the limits of what you can handle.
It requires two skills.
One is the constant reminder that wealth is a two-part equation: what you have and what you expect/need. When you realize that each part is equally important, you realize that the overwhelming attention we pay to getting more and the negligible attention we put on managing expectations makes little sense, especially because the expectations side can be so much more in your control.
The second is realizing that managing expectations doesn’t have to mean being conservative or unambitious. It’s just realizing that an insatiable appetite for more will always push you to the point of disappointment and regret – always, every single time. So having some ability to deny an extra dollar of work, or a potential opportunity, a bigger house or a nicer car, is essential if you want to use money to make a better life.