How much is enough?


It’s very likely that you feel that you could do with a few more dollars … then a few more … and several more after that. Having a few more dollars in our pockets and a few less unpaid bills piling up seems to be a very attractive idea.

But how much is enough?

John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937) is said to have had a fortune of around nine hundred million dollars. Measured in today’s dollars, his wealth would make him the richest person in the history of mankind. He was once asked how much money is enough, to which he answered, “one more dollar”. All he had still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t able to satisfy him. He always wanted more.

I found it quite a contrast to hear Dick Smith’s point of view in a recent interview on ABC TV. He said he didn’t have a desire to keep earning more and more money. Of course he has made a lot of money through a variety of businesses but he has come to the point of realising that continuing to chase the next dollar is a hollow pursuit.

It’s amazing how people don’t understand that. They think if you’re a successful businessman you must want to make more money.

I don’t want to make any more money. If I did, I would have stuck to electronics.

I could’ve become a billionaire, but no, I wanted to spend time with my family, to go adventuring, to put something back in, which I learnt from the scouts, and all of those things I’ve been so lucky to do. – Dick Smith

I remember research from about a decade back which said that only 1 in 20 Australian millionaires considered themselves prosperous. They said they couldn’t afford the things they needed and felt they had to make more and more money. Unfortunately, that attitude is likely to mean that they’ll never be satisfied with what they have, no matter how much their income rises.

I don’t always agree with Dick Smith but I reckon he’s got it right this time. Yes, he does have significant wealth already but he has identified those things that he wants to spend his life on like family, adventuring and putting something back. More than identifying them, he’s taken steps to prioritise those things over simply accumulating more wealth. He’s realised that one more dollar won’t be enough if he loses touch with what really matters to him.

I’ve heard people who chase after money say that it’s only for a season. They say they just want to get enough money for this or that and then they can slow things down a little and enjoy life. I’ve seen those ‘seasons’ extended time and time again while the things that should matter are pushed further and further into the background, often disappearing altogether.

Can I encourage you to decide what it is that you consider to be really important and then order your life accordingly. Not plan to make time for things that really matter further down the track but live like they matter today. Because if you don’t live like they really matter today, you might need to face the reality that they don’t actually matter to you at all.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • “Because if you don’t live like they really matter today, you might need to face the reality that they don’t actually matter to you at all.” I love the way you said this. I’ve been thinking a lot about this very idea, although not about money. I keep telling myself I’m going to do ____ someday. If I’m not doing it in the free time I have now, does it matter that much to me?

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