How Do You Define Enough?

Carl Richards Behavior Gap My Income vs My Enough

In 2015, Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, made an announcement that shocked just about everyone. He set a new, minimum salary of $70,000 for his employees. Sounds fantastic, right? It turns out that not everyone loved the idea.

The New York Times recently published a piece that reviews some of the fallout afterwards, including a handful of customers leaving the business:

Two of Mr. Price’s most valued employees quit, spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises. Some friends and associates in Seattle’s close-knit entrepreneurial network were also piqued that Mr. Price’s action made them look stingy in front of their own employees.

Within weeks of the announcement, the company co-founder (also the CEO’s brother) filed a lawsuit. Clearly, there’s a lot happening with this change, and we’re only three months into this experiment. But I keep coming back to Dan Price’s catalyst for making this change.

After reading a study about happiness, Price decided to test one of the findings. Emotional well-being improves as income goes up, but appears to max out at around $75,000. By setting a minimum salary of $70,000, Price believes he can make a difference in the lives of his employees. And he probably can, but it got me thinking about how we define what qualifies as “enough.”

What would change in your life if your boss suddenly announced you’d make a minimum of $70,000/year? Would that be enough, or would you still worry about money?

Maybe you already make more than $70,000. If you’re already there and it’s not enough, at what income would you have enough?

This question of what qualifies as enough keeps nagging at me as I wonder if we’re asking the right questions about how much money we need to be happy.

Yes, we need to pay our rent or our mortgage. Yes, we need to pay our power bill and put food on the table. There are many things we need to pay for that make life easier and/or better. But once those needs are met, then what?

Over the next week, take some time to figure out your baseline. What qualifies as “enough” to live your life comfortably?

Just so we’re clear, this baseline will be different for everyone. What feels good to you may be completely different from your neighbor. Also, I’m not looking for people to abandon their homes or leave behind the things they really enjoy. But I am challenging you to get specific.

Does everything you buy add something to your life? Or does it just make you worry about the money you spent?

I’d love to know what you find out. Shoot me an email at if you feel like sharing.

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Will you try something for me real quick?

Make a mental list of the things you REALLY want to be spending your money on. You know, things you value deeply. My list includes security, time with my family, and service in my community.

Now, gently compare that list to the way you ACTUALLY spend your money.

If you’re human, that exercise probably hurt a little bit because there is almost always a gap between what we value and how we spend our money.

I’ve been exploring that gap for 20 years, and closing it is the focus of my work.

“Carl gets the relationship between money and feelings better
than anyone on the planet.”
– Ron Lieber, New York Times

If that sounds interesting to you… you’ve come to the right place.

I've spent years looking for the best way to share my work. I’ve tried Twitter, Facebook Groups, blogging with comments, courier pigeons… everything. I've come to realize that nothing beats a well-crafted letter delivered to your inbox once a week and your ability to hit reply and start a conversation.

So each week I send a short email discussing topics like money, creativity, and happiness along with a simple sketch. And if I get it right, it will take you less than two minutes to read, but you'll be thinking about it all day.

"I love Carl's hand-drawn sketches. They feel so personal and immediate… like he couldn't wait to scrawl down whatever insight had just popped into that lightning-fast brain of his…"

– Kara Cutruzzula, Brass Ring Daily

So join the thousands of readers of my Weekly Letter. There’s no spam, I never share your information, and it’s free.