How much money is enough?

A simple conversation over whatsapp helped me think about how much money I want to make. Read to find out.

Here’s an unfiltered, unedited chat between AA and me. The conversation is about money – a topic that we often shirk around.

PS: When you read this, please excuse typos 🙂

So, out of the blues, AA asked me,

“Hi, respond whenever you want but respond definitely.

Why do you want to keep earning more money? What drives you?

Context: I am figuring out my relationship with money, which has so far been extremely traumatic and I have tried my best to deal with it.

And… Last night, a reason occurred to me that gave me a satisfactory answer. I want to deep dive into it and build a better relationship with money.”

I said, “i want to make money to be able to live a better life and give better life to the ones around me”

I then quoted Kabir and said that I am inspired by that intention of making enough for self and for others. And then I pointed her to this post about C4E Village.

She followed up with,

How do you describe ‘better’?

I said, afford things that I cant today. i dont have a car. prak doesnt have a publishing company. chandni doesnt have a house. upgrades in life.

She asked,

Do you keep a range in mind, ki itna to earn karna hi hai for these to upgrades to be actualised?

I said, “nope. there is no end to upgrades. it’s mindless chase. from 10 i want 100. from 100, 1000. from 1000, 10000. zeros keep adding. i look at the next goal. like my next goal is to have 2 years of salary in bank. right now I have -2 months of salary in account. for my team I mean. and then after that goal is to get a car for myself”

She asked further,

Ah, understood. We can’t achieve everything at once. Set goals, and jump to the next when one is complete. Makes a lot of sense.

Do you despair? Do thoughts of not being able to get these done occur to you? If yes, how do you keep up and show up?

I said, “a lot. and that keeps me going. i dont want to die a poor man”

She asked,

Interesting. But when upgrades are endless, where do you draw the line of being poor?

I said (and this is the most interesting part), “i have some benchmarks. i want to be able to afford unlimited starbucks coffee. i dont want to take a train ever. i want to be able to buy a birkenstock chappal whenever I want. i want to be able to buy a mac. i dont want to take a loan for a medical emergency. i dont want to take a bus / train / metro for intra-city commute. and not jsut me – all my people. and this is the base level. wait rent. i dont want to worry about my rent for the next 24 months rolling (i dont want to buy)”

While we are at it, see this thread.

She asked,

Why do you not want to buy?

I said, “i dont think thats optimal use of money at this stage”

Thankfully she did not push me more. If she did, I would not know what to respond with. So that.

After this, we moved on to other things. But while talking, I realised that when someone asks me seriously how much I want to make, I dont really have a tangible answer. I mean I want to make a billion dollars at some point in time and I will. But most people laugh at it. And even when I respond with all the earnestness, people dont take me seriously. Why would they. At 41, my net worth is negative!

To best honest, I don’t know where I picked this billion as a number but it has become my yardstick. Maybe cos it’s a significantly large number that puts you in the top 0.1%ile of the population (or whatever %ile). I checked. There are 3194 billionaires in the world as of Jan 2024. And I am not even counting the ones that are not reported.

I know this number will take time (apparently less than 10% of billionaires are younger than 50) and by the time I reach there, 1 trillion may very well be the new billion.

That’s not the point.
The point was, what is my immediate money goal?

And this conversation helped me answer that. Thank you, AA.

So yeah.

The immediate goal thus is to make…

  • 11 lakhs (debt that I need to pay back)
  • 288 lakhs (at this time, I pay about 12 lakhs to my people each month. I want to have 24 months runway in the bank)
  • about 12% more for each year (inflation)

Thus, the number is 375 lakhs.
Or 3.75 crores.
In cash. In bank.
At the current team size.
Once I add more people, the number will go up.

Once I get to this number, I will start adding upgrades – first to people’s lives (remember air travel, Mac, Birken etc etc.), then to myself. And then hopefully become patron to some young folks and pass on the baton!

So that.

Time’s short.
Need to make 3.75 crores.
Time to get going.

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