It’s weird to not start a post out with a thesis update anymore but it’s also soooooooo good.

Yesterday I was talking to my brother about job stuff. Since I heard back from my final grad school program I’ve only applied to two organizations which he thought was odd. It probably is. I was telling him about the organizations I applied to, which are both in NYC, how much they’d probably pay and how I’d probably have to get a roommate if either of them actually came through for me.

When I was telling him about that I said something like, “but I don’t care about the money”, to which he responded, “You’d better care about the money”. This, of course, led to a discussion about money.

I told my brother what my ideal salary would be and he was pretty disappointed. His immediate question was, “how will you take care of your children”, to which I responded, “if I have children, I’ll presumably have a husband who would also have a job”. He then conceded that that was true for the children issue but then asked about “building wealth”.

*I should note that this language of ‘building wealth’ is weird to me but my brother majored in business and has his MBA so it’s probably something he’s pretty familiar with.*

This is where the conversation took a turn that I don’t think he liked. I told him I wasn’t worried about wealth, that if I could make enough money to support myself, save for the future, and have fun every once in a while, I’d be fine. I think this was disappointing to him and he also viewed it as unrealistic (which it may be). More than that, it is representative of a bigger difference between us.

I like to spend money while I think my brother likes to have money.

I went to a lecture the other day about the usefulness of philosophy in the modern world and the lecturer got to the topic of money as an intrinsic good v. money as an instrumental good. I think I generally see money as an instrumental good. I’d love to make enough money to be able to buy things for my friends and family whenever I want, or to go on a nice vacation with people I love, or even to pay my own cell phone bill. I recognize that money is necessary to do those things. Fortunately, I’m low maintenance enough that I don’t need a ton of money to help me enjoy doing those things.

The opposite type of person sees money as an intrinsic good. I don’t think this is my brother but his comment sounded like something that would be said by someone who thought that way. Why build wealth? To what end? For what purpose? It seems illogical to make a bunch of money and have it sit in my bank account. I’m not saying I want to be poor or struggle to make ends meet – I think that mindset would be a little foolish – I’m just saying I don’t need to make six figures to live a happy life.

Maybe I’d feel the pressure to have a high-paying job more if I came from less. But I didn’t and I’m not going to throw my fist in the air and complain to God about my fortunate upbringing. I don’t doubt that I’ll do well for myself, financially, but I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t make six figures either.


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