I try to think of money in terms of numbers. I’m an engineer so it comes naturally. But money really is an emotional subject.
Looking back at our pasts, we begin to see how our attitudes and proclivities towards money have formed. I remember as a kid, when my parents were married, we lived in a decent place and I had toys and money was never an issue. We didn’t have a limo or a mansion, but money wasn’t even on my radar. After my parents’ divorce, we moved to be closer to my mother’s family and money was an issue from there on out. How did your upbringing influence your present situation?
I read something on Facebook one day that, while funny, hid a truth: Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s a lot more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than a Yugo. We always tell ourselves and others that money doesn’t buy happiness. And that’s true, but we shortchange it some by stopping there. Here is what money buys:
- Time. We can pay others to do things we don’t want or like to do, giving us more free time to do what we want.
- Opportunity. Who has had a chance to go somewhere or do something but not had the money to do it?
- Health. We can buy health insurance, get access to better doctors and dentists, and buy natural foods.
- Options. We might have the chance to leave a job we don’t like for one we do but which pays less.
- Charity. If our money isn’t tied up completely in paying bills, we can help others.
- Education. Aside from a college education, we can buy books to expand our horizons or take courses in something that interests us.
- Experiences. We can travel somewhere new, try some exotic food or take skydiving lessons.
Money is certainly not the solution but it is the common denominator in so many things that bring us happiness. You can make more money, spend less or do both. But either way, money gives you the chance to really live. Don’t pursue wealth for wealth’s sake. Do it so you can really afford the things that make a difference.
This is a question that gets asked a lot. I puzzled over it for a while but I think I have an answer. I wasn’t even looking for it at the time but as I did some reading it hit me.
The poor like to say the game is rigged in the rich’s favor. That’s close, I think, but it needs a tweak. The reason the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is because the rich understand money. Just like a game, the rich understand the rules. The poor don’t and, as a result, the rich run circles around them.
The poor want to say the rich try to keep them down, but keeping people poor doesn’t help the rich. It hurts them. Poor people can’t afford higher prices. Poor people can’t invest in business ventures. Poor people require social services.
Do you want to move from being poor to being rich? Lose the attitude and start learning the rules of the game. You’ll be better off, your family will be better off and so will everyone else. Here are some ideas:
- Read some personal finance blogs. You’re not the first trying to do this, and you won’t be the last.
- Read some books about money management, taxes, investments, whatever. It doesn’t matter what you read first. Just read.
- Think about what you’ve learned. There are a lot of idiots out there, and most of them are on the internet. Be careful.
- Make your plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As a matter of fact, it won’t be. Just do it and adjust as things come up.
So get out there, learn the rules and practice your moves. You’ll enjoy the game a lot more and you’ll wind up a player instead of a spectator.
Do you want to move ahead? Do you want to move from where you are to a new place? I’m not talking just physical location but financial as well. How about changing your attitude a little? Any other changes you want to make?
My education is from a public school. I think most people reading this blog will be in the same boat. So before I make some suggestions about how to improve our lot in life, let me say a few disclaimers.
I think teachers truly join the profession to teach kids and I think the are underpaid. However, the administrators are grossly overpaid. We pour more money than ever into public education and the results are getting worse. Teacher pay isn’t getting much higher. Where’s it going? The solution to our kids’ educational problems is not money. And it’s not federal involvement, either. I don’t have the stats but I would be interested to see how education has fared after the feds got into it. I think it’s time we got them out of it and went back to local control.
Parental involvement definitely needs to increase. It has fallen in the last few decades because of the dissolution of the family. Fewer traditional families are intact and single parents are harried and don’t have a lot of time. So many people seem to think it’s the school’s responsibility to make sure the kids get a good education. Let me tell you, no one cares more for your kids than you do. Get involved.
So here are some suggestions for improving our lives:
- Turn off the news. They gear it towards ratings and the sad and depressing stuff always rates high. Besides, they’re slanting the news to the left anyway. Get rid of it and you’ll feel better.
- Read. Read anything and everything. Read some personal finance and personal development blogs on a regular basis and see what books those authors recommend. Spend five or ten minutes every day reading a book. Take it with you and steal a few minutes here and there while you wait somewhere. Get an audio book if you’re in the car a lot. Use the public library as a resource.
- Take a course in critical thinking. Or just spend some time alone to think through the philosophy of things. Ask questions and challenge your assumptions. Try to prove your beliefs wrong and you’ll be stronger for it.
- Travel somewhere. Anywhere. Meet new people and see places you wouldn’t normally get to see. Plan a family trip once a year. Spend some time before the trip to learn about your destination’s history.
- Reconnect with your spouse. You’ll feel better when your marriage is stronger.
- Attend church somewhere. Get to know what it’s like to love other people and make a difference in the community. Join a missions trip.
- Volunteer. Similar to the point above, but you can do it outside of church. Help local charities like a food bank or Habitat for Humanity.
No one cares for the quality of your life than you do. No one is going to push you to be better or to improve your life. You have to get to it. Roll up your sleeves and get it done.