One of the most interesting things I’ve learned by writing about money for the past year is how much baggage people have about this topic. We are prone to believe all sorts of things about money. Some believe it’s the root of all evil. Others think “easy come, easy go” or that it has to be displayed in order to make oneself feel worthy. In the Facebook era, we’re even more able to compare ourselves with the Joneses — looking at vacation photos of Vail or the Seychelles posted by people we haven’t spoken with in years. These people should not be one’s reference group but, thanks to the miracle of technology, they are.
So I was fascinated to read a post by Tara Gentile over at DailyWorth yesterday about her baggage: an extreme fear of being “greedy.” Every time she quoted a price for a project, she’d be saying in her head “Better to get by with less than risk being greedy.” But as her business took off, she realized she either had to charge more or go insane. And then, a funny thing happened. As she charged more, she realized she could afford to hire help (thus creating opportunities for other people) and use the money she was making to do things for people she cared about. The more she made, the more she could do. The fear of greed, she decided, had been keeping her isolated and powerless.
The truth is, money is just a means of exchange. Stripped of all the drama, it is simply a tool. If you’re the kind of person who wants to do nice things, more money will enable you to do more nice things. I’m not just talking about charity, though there’s that too. How wonderful to be able to, say, buy an air conditioner for your church so people want to worship there in summer? But you can also spend big in local businesses you want to see succeed. You can tip well without thinking about it. You can refer your excess business to colleagues you want to prosper. You can host nice get-togethers that help establish connections between people.
And the flipside of this is true as well. If you’re not inclined to do nice things, being impoverished won’t change that.
What beliefs are you carrying around about money?
flickr image courtesy of Images_of_Money’s photostream