I recently asked Adam Downes, Financial Planner at Pura Vida, to talk us through the process of working out how much money we need to live our best lives. Here’s what he had to say…

How much money do I need?

I get asked this question in one format or another more than a hundred times a year. Everyone wants to know, are we going to be ok? As annoying as it is, I answer this question with another question. Well, how do you want to live, now and in the future?

If you really think about, I mean, really think about how your ideal life looks like for you and your family, it goes a long way to being able to start answering our big question.


There are two things which I find most commonly stop us from living a life more aligned with what makes us happy. Time, and money. We know our time on this earth is finite, I say on almost a daily basis I don’t have enough time. I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this problem unfortunately, but personally I am working towards being more deliberate with the time I have. 

What we can do is remove the barrier of money. As a starting point, we need to think about the cost of what we want to do now, versus the cost of what we want to do in the future: 

  • Ongoing living costs – We need to pay for things like the mortgage, utilities and food right?
  • Ongoing enjoyment expenditure – How do you like to spend your spare time? Whatever your thing is, where is your money best spent to make you happy?
  • Annual holidays – Holidays can be really important, how would your year look if you doubled your holiday budget?
  • One off living costs – How often do you need to replace the car? Do you have any work planned on your house?
  • One off enjoyment – Think bucket list ideas, recreation and future celebrations


Once you have an idea of how you live on an ongoing basis, it gives you the foundation of a budget. If you multiply that number by 30, 40 or 50 depending on how many years you might live, it turns into a rather big number. Add to it the one-off costs and that number grows even larger. 

Once you go through this exercise, you can then start to answer the question, how much money do I need? And perhaps more importantly, do I have enough? For most people who are still working, the answer is a hard NO!

That doesn’t mean we need to panic, personally, I am many years away from having enough.

What is important, is to have a robust, reliable plan to have enough. We know life can change quickly but I do encourage anyone reading this to plan for the future. Your future self will thank you. A plan is not just about the long term, what do you have planned for the next 12 months and what can you do in the next five years? 

Enjoy the journey, we don’t know how much time we have.