Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Confessions of a PF blogger

Back in the spring, someone asked me on Formspring what I think my best asset is. I had written out my answer, then sat on it for months because it made (and still makes) me uncomfortable. Earlier this week, I was talking to a friend about it. He said I should post it. So here it is. Because that’s what blogging is all about, right?

My best asset is an easy question to answer, because it also happens to be one of my biggest faults … and that’s my constant need to achieve.

I know. You’re probably thinking that it’s kind of lame for me to say that one of my biggest flaws is that I have the drive to achieve. But when you think about it, it really can be a flaw for some people.

Once I reach a goal, I’m content for about a millisecond, and then it’s onto the next goal I want to accomplish. I find that I’m never completely happy with my progress, and it’s kind of exhausting trying to keep up with my own expectations of myself. (Yet, it’s also extremely satisfying. If that even makes any sense.)

When I graduated college, I was making minimum wage working at a drug store. I remember thinking, “when I get my first ‘real’ job, I know I’ll have it made.” That goal was reached, and before I even had time to enjoy myself, it was onto the next goal: “when I make it to $50,000 I know I’ll have it made.” Well I achieved that goal, and I was happy for a little while, until I found myself thinking “when I make it to $100,000 I know I’ll have it made.” And that’s where I stand today. If I can accomplish my goal of making $75,000 this year, I will have increased my income from 2010 by 50% ($25,000). If I can miraculously do the same thing next year, I will be making $100,000 by the time I’m 30. Is this goal attainable? Anything is possible if you really want it. But is it realistic? I’m not sure.

There has been one time in my life where not only did I fail at something, but I ran the other way, and never looked back. That was 7 years ago. I don’t regret what happened because that has really shaped who I am today, but it’s not something I’m proud of. And I think it’s because of this reason that I feel the need to push myself so hard in everything that I do. You create your own path to by taking what you have learned from the past, and applying it to the future. You are your own destiny. Cheesy? Yes. But so true.

I know that money doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. So while it’s true that it’s not about how much you make (it’s about how much you save), it’s also true that the more income you generate, the more you can save. Money is involved in most major decisions that we make in our lives, and that’s why I’m so passionate about achieving financial independence. My goal isn’t to become ridiculously rich, it’s just to live comfortably and enjoy life. Which means that I don’t have to rely on anybody else, or allow myself to be limited by my finances. A lot of doors open up when money isn’t holding you back from making decisions.

I feel like if I allow myself to be comfortable and happy with what I have achieved, I will never really realize my full potential. If you push past the wall, how far can you go? I feel like the possibilities are endless. And that motivates me a lot. But I do get tired sometimes. Which makes me really consider: will I ever be truly satisfied with myself? Or maybe more importantly, do I ever want to be satisfied?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Your last question is very self-aware. "Do I want to be satisfied?" I'm interested in … *why* do you want to earn $100,000? Is it a bit like mountain climbers who want to climb the mountain simply because it's there? Or something else? And what part does contentment play in the process? Is it an ongoing satisfaction even as your propel yourself to the next goal? Or does it seem that "it" (whatever "it" is) lies always just after the next goal is accomplished? Whatever the answers, it's people with your level of drive who usually accomplish spectacular things, so your blog will just keep getting all the more interesting! (as will your life, of course!) High Five, Krystal.

    • gmbmfb says:

      I honestly have no idea where the $100,000 goal came from. It's just there, so I want to achieve it. It's also not an ongoing satisfaction as I achieve my goals, it's as if my contentment stays one step ahead of me. I thought once I became debt-free, I'd be content. Nope. Then I thought as soon as I became a home owner, I'd be content. Nope. And it makes me wonder if "financial independence" is just a phrase I use to describe a goal I might reach financially, but might never reach emotionally.

  2. I'm the same way. When I'm feeling like this, I make myself pause for a moment and think long term. I revisit what my definitions of wealth and success are, reassure myself that I will get there within a reasonable amount of time, and then come back to the present feeling a lot less like I have to constantly try to force my success.

    I have no doubt that you'll be successful and reach all the goals you set for yourself, just remember that you don't have to race as fast as you can toward all of them. :)
    My recent post Finavigation Personal Finance Software Launch

  3. Maggie says:

    Okay ……my curiousity is piqued. What happened 7 years ago that you failed at and ran away from?

  4. Jessie says:

    True that money doesn't equal happiness – there are some other variables in that equation, but I do believe that money can help you get the things that do make you happy (such as travel, or retiring early to spend more time with friends and family)
    My recent post June Spend Report

    • gmbmfb says:

      You nailed it on the head. Money might not equal happiness, but it certainly plays a huge part in helping us achieve the goals that make us happy.

  5. SP says:

    Yes! I feel like this so often, in many aspects of my life, finanical and otherwise. Sometimes (especially since I finished pursing school while working) I feel like I have so much energy and motivation to succeed, but I"m not always sure where to channel it.

    I am not sure where it comes from. A competitive streak, a desire to "prove myself", a mountain climber (well, mountain hiker) attitude? I think in the last year I've chilled out a tiny bit to see what life looks like on the other side. But if I relax too much, I get so restless and start dreaming of new goals!
    My recent post Saving Money While Flying

  6. erika says:

    I have the same problem… in some ways it's good because it helps to accomplish a lot, but also I wonder if I'll ever be content.

  7. christid says:

    I read several financial blogs and yours resonates the most. It might be that you really aim to cater for your niche: The 20s crowd who are facing a multitude of barriers which workers even just a decade before didn't need to anticipate. Many of the other PF bloggers just shove that aside as "oh well, we all went through difficulties when first trying to find our place in the world". However, you still make a success of yourself in the tough times and are really creative and driven. So kudos to you.

  8. @joshduv says:

    Wow, this was an amazing post. I fully resonate with what you're saying. When I graduated three years ago, I was happy with a pretty low annual income, and I have managed to double that each year since. Now, I'm at a place where I'm personally wondering: why? Part of me wants financial security, which technically I now have. The other part of me wants to be generous, supporting causes that I'm passionate about. And the third part of me is simply materialistic.

    The problem, for me, is that I know that I *can* reach my next financial goal (that's the glory of freelancing), but I'm worried about losing the balance between living now/having fun, and working. I feel like my potential is unlimited, but my time to live, breathe and experience the moment isn't unlimited. At what point should I be "satisfied" and live with what I've achieved? A t times, I feel like I can't enjoy myself because I'm thinking, "I could be so much more productive right now" or "I could be working on XYZ project right now."

    • gmbmfb says:

      I can absolutely relate to everything you're talking about. At what point do you draw the line? There has to be some sort of balance, but at the same time with balance comes sacrifice. So do you somehow try to be satisfied with what you have accomplished, or do you keep propelling yourself forward because you know the possibilities are endless? What's that saying, if you're not getting ahead, you're falling behind?

  9. Byrocat says:

    <<I feel like if I allow myself to be comfortable and happy with what I have achieved, I will never really realize my full potential. If you push past the wall, how far can you go? I feel like the possibilities are endless. And that motivates me a lot. But I do get tired sometimes. Which makes me really consider: will I ever be truly satisfied with myself? Or maybe more importantly, do I ever want to be satisfied?>>

    It's like the old adage: Good, better best…. and so forth. The real trick is to figure out when you've reached the point where the challenge is no longer fun, or you've become an adrealine junkie, or are negatively impacting the lives of people near and dear to you. Time to step back and evaluate the worth and underlying reasons.

    My recent post Getting the Christmas Bonus

  10. StackingCash says:

    Welcome to my dilemma. Except I feel mine is worse because you seem to have greater potential than me. I have a lower income yet higher networth, mainly because of age (older) and lack of education (less earning power). At what point do we stop and smell the roses because we have "enough" money to take care of future needs?

    How much is enough money??? :/

  11. It's a never ending cycle, but fun all the same. Once you get to 100K, you want to get to 250K, then 500K then 1 mil.
    My recent post I Can’t Help You Budget If You Can’t Help Yourself

  12. Kay says:

    I'm just wondering… Maybe your happiness quotient is derived not from reaching your "goals" but on the factor that you made it happen. Let me explain it better. Maybe the journey gives the thrill, not the detination. When you arrive at the destination, that exhilarating journey is over, but since you like love the experience that the journey gives you, you look for your next destination and jump right onto the next adventure to begin the journey??

    • gmbmfb says:

      Hmm that's an interesting theory. You could potentially be right. I'm going to think about that for a while, and maybe blog about it later on this summer. Thanks! :)

  13. Broke By Choice says:

    I face the same challege in many areas of my life. So many people I know just let life happen and as a result they get whatever life has to offer (good and bad). Most of the times they are left saying "I wish …" or "i've always wanted …". I don't want to be this person. They may be comfortable but I can't say they are satisified.

    The desire to be constatly moving forward is good and bad. The bad is that sometimes it is exhausting. The good is that I am satisfied and not settling for good. I am sure there is a balance out there to be found…if anyone has found it let me know :)
    My recent post Entrepreneurial Journey: Sweet Treat

    • gmbmfb says:

      Totally agree. I don't believe in leaving things up to fate. I believe in choosing my own destiny and carving out my own path in life. But I also think there comes a point where you can lose perspective and balance. And then what?

  14. Paul N says:

    I think everyone has to keep a balance of everything in their lives. From silently reading your posts over the last months your obviously a very busy person. Definately a go-getter. If you want your personal relationships to also be sucessfull over the long term, your going to have to find someone with your same drive. Most guys want to be the center of attention. Your engrossed in so many projects that I can see your partner feeling like they are not as important as they wished they would be to you. (many guys would have trouble expressing that though).

    I'm the opposite of you in respect to drive and organization. I like to have a lot of fun between worrying about my financial future. But I have found a way to be financially well off with an average wage and common sense. Obviously from following your blog, I have similar financial interests. I'm a little older but with a GF close to your age. She's also really the opposite of you, makes a lot being in a medical field, spends a lot. Never thought much about a nest egg until she met me. Maybe your still running and you haven't figured out how to stop yet?

  15. Kylie Ofiu says:

    I am very similar to you, with constant goals and things. I think it is a matter of finding a balance though. I lost my balance recently, so have been making more of an effort to slow down on some of my goals and spend more time with family and things.

    It is hard when you are so driven, especially when the things you want to do revolve around money.

    I agree with whoever said maybe its the journey. A lot of people are like that where the journey is the exciting part.

    Good luck finding what works for you.
    My recent post Coping with job loss

  16. Tina says:

    I adore you…you continue to amaze me. I am stuck with friends that are not ambitious…and sometimes i feel as though i might be too ambitious. I am so driven and it scares me. All the best with everything and I hope I can continue/start my blog lol

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