My first manager used to say money was about options----- more money meant more options. Although it made sense to me back then, I now realize there's more to it. Money can come to be a number of things (and a number of combinations of things): a burden, a lifestyle, a complication, an obligation, greed, power, and so on.
But I want to discuss one of the healthier ways to view money: as a ticket to freedom.
Being part of a society comes with a number of expectations. For example, I always take a quick shower before going out, even if I'm just grabbing something from the drugstore. I don't necessarily place a lot of value on appearances, nor do I put much weight on my neighbours' opinions, yet I still adapt to society's expectations of how one should look when they're out and about.
At the risk of letting myself off the hook, this behaviour has strong evolutionary roots. Way back when, small groups and tribes required cohesion and collaboration to compete, grow, and thrive. Independent thinkers and those groups who lacked cooperation failed to survive and pass on their genes----- they couldn't come together to fight a common enemy, or gather the necessary resources to sustain themselves.
Fast-forward tens of thousands of years and, biologically, we haven't changed much. Rather, our old hardware is trying to run modern software. The need to conform has interesting side effects such as the "keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome.
So what does this have to do with money and our relationship to it? Let's pretend you're indifferent to things like clothes and cars. However, your close friends drive BMWs or Porsche SUVs, and garb themselves in labels found at Holt Renfrew. Is your next car going to be a Honda Civic? Are you going shoe shopping at Aldo? How about purse shopping at Winners? Need I go on? I can because I haven't even started on things that may actually be important to you like houses, entertainment, children, and travel.
It seems we pay a high financial and emotional price trying to fit in, not to mention the fact that many of us could probably semi- or fully retire earlier if we save more. Resisting, even in part, the need to have the latest and greatest of this and that can give you years you didn't even realize you bargained away.
I've recently met a number of couples in their 40s looking to sell their homes and retire, or semi-retire, in the near future. They understand that in order to do so, they need to fight some of the instincts and temptations mentioned above.
My hope is that if any of this resonates with you, you are able to make the necessary moves to spend money based on your values, not on societal expectations. It's not easy, but doing so will be the first and possibly most important step in realizing that financial intelligence leads to freedom----- freedom to live your life based on the values dear to you!
In the review queue
Goals vs. Systems
by Scott Adams:
A thoughtful article from the creator of
on whether you should have goals or live by systems and structures of your own creation instead.
How Utah Keeps the American Dream Alive
by Megan McArdle:
A really interesting article on how the Mormon Church and the State of Utah have successfully implemented unique strategies to reduce poverty and income inequality. Although some of the strategies discussed may not be easily replicated elsewhere, it's definitely worth a read.
Just for fun
- Love can move mountains: In honour of wedding season and in keeping with the theme of financial freedom, check out the stunning wedding photos of a couple who got married on Mount Everest after a three-week trek