When We Have Money We’ll Do X

Whoever wants to be happy, let him be so: of tomorrow there’s no knowing. — Lorenzo De’ Medici

People who grew up in a poor family (as I did) were likely used to hearing the phrase, “When we have money we’ll do X”. X varies, but it’s always something that is perceived as being currently unattainable. Frequently that theoretical money never came, and as result, X almost never happened.

Poor people tend to live in the future, as a form of escapism. This outlook tends to stick with you and is often applied as a par for the course thought pattern — even when money is not involved. “When I lose weight, I’ll do X”, “when this tough work period is over we’ll do X”, “when business picks up, we’ll do X”.

Over the years I’ve often caught myself in the process of having such thoughts, and almost invariably, X was something that could have been done — at least to a certain extent — under the present circumstances that I was in.

While you need money for a high end digital camera, for example, you don’t really need overly expensive equipment to get started if you want to take up photography. If you wait for the perfect set of circumstances to arise, you run the risk of needlessly delaying (potentially forever) starting a new hobby, going on vacation, signing up for a writing class, or doing whatever else your heart desires.

These days I force myself to avoid this type of thinking, but it still floats ashore from time to time. The risk of such an outlook is having your life slip by as you hope for a better future that may never come. This isn’t an argument against planning or even dreaming, but rather an exhortation to start living now, as the present is all we have for certain.


  1. Having this type of mindset is not automatically bad. It really depends on your attitude. If you have a positive attitude about it, and you remember to actually fulfill your own promises it can be a good thing.I remember when I was having a hard time first year in engineering. I saw a nice car on the street, and I said to myself, if I can get through this degree, I’ll get myself that car. 6 years later I fulfilled that promise, and even though it was hell of expensive, I could justify getting it because I deserve it.It only really sucks when you parents empty promises. But hey that’s life.This video about mindsets and time rocks check it out:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3oIiH7BLmg

  2. There’s also some fear that goes along with trying new things as well and people sometimes use money, or lack of money, as an excuse. With the photography example, you can use the lack of equipment as an excuse for sucking. And then there’s all those super-rich people who have money but never got over the fear. They are sometimes equally unhappy because they lost their crutch.

  3. Can totally relate. I disagree that the stuff we dream about could be generally accomplished though. I generally think in that pattern whenever there is something I want really bad but know that I cant get it. So it is running away from accepting not having something on my part. E.g. spending time with family -> not possible due to distance -> constantly thinking how I will spend time with them in the future once I live with themImho it is dealing with emotionally unacceptable facts.

  4. Brian Cray says:

    Great insight and self-realization. I find myself doing this, as I’m sure many people do. In my case this thought process seems to be justification for avoiding a learning curve or any hump that comes with making a decision to do something. We have to learn to crawl before we walk.I compare this feeling to jumping in luke warm water. Although I’m hesitant to jump in, I know that after a while I’ll adapt to the water temperature and enjoy the swim. So after moments of internal debate I reach a tipping point where I close my eyes and just jump in as I reach the conclusion that it’s now or never. Thinking about this scenario I find myself learning to tell myself to “just jump in.”

  5. And sometimes money is really needed to do X

  6. Jim Lastinger says:

    So true. I definitely do think that it’s escapism to always be looking to the future, as if it will magically be better. I firmly believe that living in the moment is more valuable than anything indefinite that you “might” achieve in the future.

  7. Aviraj Saluja says:
  8. Stephen Hilderbrand says:

    Agreed. And the world is a better place when people don’t say “When we have money, we’ll {give X, volunteer, get involved in the community, etc.}” Nice words to remember. Be creative, have fun, make stuff, live. The future will always be there, until it isn’t.Thanks for the reminder.

  9. Just a small piece of a MUCH larger truth: Your entire life is spent in the NOW. There only ever is the now, and there never is anything else. Obviously. The only way to enjoy the now is to enjoy it right now. Planning for the future is OK but never trade (something you can/want to do now) vs. (something you can/want to do in the future).Also remember you might get hit by a bus tomorrow.

  10. Future mindedness is neither a bad habit nor is it escapism. The ability to conceptualize time in terms of past, present and future and to plan for goals which are not determined by emotions or instincts distinguishes humans from animals.

  11. nuf said.

  12. Hmmm,insightful,it’s amazing how people always want all the traffic lights to turn green before they move.

  13. Zernike says:

    Partly agree. We have to admit the fact this world is far more complicated than we can imagin. one thinks the thought ” when I have money, I will do X” delay the possibility of enjoying the life right NOW. However, others may think this could effectively buck him up to pursue his goal. Though it might be the truth we ignore that how important is to not delay starting a new hobby, we better notice that we may still run the risk that this could be an excuse to not make an effort in our work or study, since the human nature is related to laziness and pleasure

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