How Much is Enough?

This question is at the heart of any money story.

It tends to be especially sharp when you’re just starting out: “If only I could make some money, I’d be OK.”

But, once money starts happening, you pretty quickly confront the question of how much it will take to feel OK now: you used to worry about buying food; now, you’re trying to go to the right restaurants.

Pricing isn’t easy for anybody. But Seth Godin provides a good guiding principle when he says to “charge a lot and be worth more than you charge.” After all, if it’s true — as he also says — that price is a story, you can create a story about delivering magic even if it costs a lot of money.

“Enough” sits at the intersection of what you charge and what you’re worth. Once they start charging, some people get obsessed with charging a lot — just because they can. “This is what the market will bear,” they say. Or maybe “This is a measure of the value I’ve created in the world.”

Other people are focused on being worth more than they charge — sometimes to their own disadvantage. The graduate student on his umpteenth unpaid internship with no job prospect in sight. The do-gooder with student debt working for pennies with a nonprofit.

It’s easy to poke fun at the first group, and I’d agree that they’re often in the wrong — or at least adopting a posture I don’t condone. But the second group is tricky. They — and their good intentions — are often hidden in plain sight. The question is, is it better? Is it right?

Everyone has to confront the question of “enough” at some point. It’s better to do it early and often. Otherwise you might never have enough.