The “More Money” Myth

Well, Christmas 2012 is behind us, and many consumers are already suffering from the “holiday hangover” – having spent too much on gifts, food, decorations, travel, and more. That’s often the time when thoughts creep into our heads like, “If I only made more money…”

The desire to earn more money is a powerful motivator. It moves families from one state to another (uprooting kids from schools, friends, and communities). It takes professionals from one industry to another. It takes students who spend four years (or more) majoring in one field of study and employs them in a different field altogether.

In 1991 financial researchers determined that it would take about $60,000 a year to live the American Dream. The study went on to say that when people who were making $60,000 a year were interviewed, they felt it would take $75,000 a year to “Really” live the American Dream. But when folks making $75,000 a year were interviewed they thought it would take more like $100,000. And, you guessed it, when those making $100,000 were interviewed they were inclined that making $150,000 a year would make the American Dream possible.

Let’s take the 1991 data and adjust that income for inflation. That would suggest that today people would think that earning just about $85,000 a year would be what it takes to live the American Dream. And people making $85,000 a year would think it would take $106,000. People making $106,000 would feel $140,000 is necessary. And finally those making $140,000 would believe $212,000 would make them feel like they’ve arrived.

The allure of making “more money” is a powerful thing. Yet, with all this “desire” to make more money, something VERY important gets missed. What are people doing with the money they’re already making?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about earning more income. But if all it does is dig you a deeper hole – well then there’s something REALLY wrong with that.

The reason why people “believe” it would take more money than they’re making to “really” live the American Dream is because they live according to what our culture promotes. In John Cummuta’s book, Are You Being Seduced Into Debt, he identifies what he calls the “coalition of four.” This coalition is made up of…

  • Merchants (those who sell us what we “want”);
  • the Advertising Industry (those who brainwash us into “wanting” the stuff the Merchants have to sell);
  • the Media (those who provide the venue where the Advertising Industry does the brainwashing); and finally
  • the Credit Industry (those who make it “easy” to succumb to the brainwashing).

I challenge you to go one day…just one stinking day…without being “advertised” to. To do that you would have to completely cut yourself off from this culture we live in. All of that “programming” makes it nearly impossible to stand against the temptations to spend that ensnares us into making “payments” on things we buy. It’s that single act that creates the illusion that making more money will be the “be all – end all”.


  • Freddie Daniels

    Reply Reply May 5, 2013

    “Levittown” is today a byword for creepy suburban conformity, but Bill Levitt, with his Henry Ford–like acumen for mass production, played a crucial role in making home ownership a new tenet of the American Dream, especially as he expanded his operations to other states and inspired imitators. From 1900 to 1940, the percentage of families who lived in homes that they themselves owned held steady at around 45 percent. But by 1950 this figure had shot up to 55 percent, and by 1960 it was at 62 percent. Likewise, the homebuilding business, severely depressed during the war, revived abruptly at war’s end, going from 114,000 new single-family houses started in 1944 to 937,000 in 1946—and to 1.7 million in 1950.

  • Jordan N. Hicks

    Reply Reply May 7, 2013

    i noticed all these reviews are about God, and im not saying your wrong, but another way to view it is just on the american dream and family, how people chase down monetary possesions in a search for happiness for the ones they love, but they forget to love the ones they love. This happens alot in america today as the american dream has gone from “good family values and family life” to “good job and high pay so that i can get the good family life” .. sadly this turn in the american dream is happening, and its good that we have so many people who notice it and hope to prevent lives from being lead down this path.

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