About a month or two ago as the tax income forms started flying in via snail mail, I downloaded my free tax software from Turbo Tax and began the annual 3-month long process of filing my taxes. As I sat by my desk and dug through mounds of ancient unopened envelopes, I suddenly noticed something incredibly odd about the Excel sheet on my computer screen.

One.. two… three… four… and five.

Odd. That’s five digits.

I blinked and counted again.

No mistake.  For the month of March 2009, I made a little bit over $10,000.

“Wow. Now if only I make that much every month,” I thought to myself. “I’ll be able to sit back, relax, scratch my butt, and be a baller.”

You may recall that I don’t really budget.  Any money I make via websites, consulting, projects, etc. gets funneled to my checking accounts, and once every 2-3 months (or whenever I’m not lazy), I tally the ballpark amount up and spit them into an Excel sheet for future reference.  On some months (when I was still in school full-time), my earnings are around  minimum wage level, and on other months I make a healthy five figure income. It all somehow manages to even out to a stable enough income where I can pay the bills and help the family out.

What really surprised me about March 2009 wasn’t the fact that I made a lot of money (relatively speaking for me), but it was the fact that I felt completely miserable during that very particular month.

So why did I felt miserable? Without going into an elaborate tale about how I failed as a human bean (mmm… I love beans), the misery was mostly due to various personal reasons, and not particularly because I was being a workaholic.

Upon reflecting that glorious month, I’ve realized a few things:

  • I am almost certain that even more money wouldn’t have made that month any better. You could be spitting money at me, rubbing it all over my sexy body and I’d still feel pretty damn gross (okay that reads pretty gross too).
  • What makes you happy or content in life isn’t money. It never really will be. Money, of course, does afford us plenty of opportunities and options in life. This is a fact that I can’t deny. However, what will truly make most people I know happy isn’t cold-hard cash, but rather the quality time they spend with friends and family.

Consider this: when its payday and we receive our paycheck, some of us may carry a smile that day. Is it truly because we’re now X dollar richer?  Or are you thinking about the things you can do with the money?

To be sure, many people aren’t always thinking about the happy things and experiences they can share with family and friends when payday arrives. They breathe a sigh of relief because there’s now enough money to pay the utility bill or to put food on the table for the week. There’s no escaping the fact that money will have a direct tie to the quality of life people can experience and enjoy.

Despite this, I can almost guarantee to you that for those of us that may be having it rough, for the many working poor and people that may be struggling, many of our fondest memories won’t be the day when we receive a  paycheck from X company, but rather its the day when Uncle Bob accidentally sets the grill on fire at the family picnic; the day when the rental car broke down while you’re on vacation but everyone managed to have a blast regardless; the day when your child took their first step; or simply that day when all the right people are around, and as you sit back to relax and chat with loved ones, not a single thought about money is on your mind.