How Has Money Changed You?

I recently got a phone call out of the blue from a former coworker, someone around 8 years my junior. They’re at a point in their life where they’re trying to balance fiscal responsibilities with work that they’re proud of, passionate about, and good at.

One of the things they were curious about is how money has changed me. They don’t know the details of my personal financial situation, but I think they’re aware of how Stonemaier Games is doing. I’m definitely not rich, just comfortable, but I do have the most financial freedom now as compared to any other point in my life.

It was interesting for me to see if money has changed me–for better or worse–so I created the following list:

  • I buy nicer chocolate. I really do love chocolate, yet it wasn’t until a few years ago that I even considered buying fancy chocolate instead of whatever was on sale at the grocery store. I still like a good deal on chocolate, but when I spot it, I get it. Some of my favorites include Lake Champlain truffles, Chocolate Love salted almond butter, and Theo Chocolate salted almond.
  • My time feels much more valuable than money. This has been true for a while, but it’s even more pronounced now. I think this is both a positive and a negative. Positive because I don’t waste my time trying to save a few dollars (time has always been valuable, and it’s just easier to see now). Negative because I’m much more impatient, leading me to avoid anything that results in waiting in line. Also, I’m more likely to give away things I no longer need or want (like games I haven’t played in a while) rather than taking the time to sell them.
  • I buy meals for friends (and eat out more). I remember in my early 20s when splitting a bill with friends in the fairest possible way was really important. Now I’ve found that I genuinely enjoy covering the bill. I don’t do this every time, but I do it fairly often.
  • I stress less about health-related expenses…for my cats (and for me). Did you know that owning a pet is incredibly expensive? If I wasn’t in my current situation, it would be a source of constant stress. They have food, medicine, bills from the vet, etc. Having a little extra money has allowed me to put that stress aside and focus on my affection for Biddy and Walter.
  • The big expenses haven’t changed. I still drive a 2003 Camry and live in the same small condo I bought in 2005. In some ways, I think these are daily reminders to stay true to my roots and my principles.
  • I’m much more charitable. From a young age, my parents instilled in me the values of helping those in need. So throughout my life I’ve tried to give to charities that I’m passionate about. I think the biggest difference now is that I’m much more willing to contribute without hesitant to causes that the people for whom I care are working on.
  • I have a much bigger focus on long-term financial security. I’ve been putting money into a 401k in small doses since my first job after college, but I’ve been more aggressive about it recently. Also, I have many more types of insurance than I did when I was younger. I’m hoping I never have to use most of those insurances, but it’s reassuring to have them.

If you’re in a different financial situation than you were, say, 10 years ago, how has money changed you? If you’re comfortable sharing, that is.