Plenty of times with money, the way we invest or the way we save is part of the problem. Other times, the way we think about money is broken and that might be the bigger issue.
Today’s guest post comes from Mrs. Picky Pincher who is, “the blogger and resident klutz at www.pickypinchers.com.” She and her husband are on a journey to live well while paying off $225,000 of debt.
The Way We Think About Money Is Broken
There I was, staring at my bank account on my computer screen. All I could think was, “Damn, that’s a lot of red.”
I was 21 years old and had just started my first post-college gig. I had a whopping red number on my credit card balance and a generous 23 cents in my checking account. I knew nothing about money except that I needed more of it. I fantasized about earning a fat salary and having a comma in my bank account instead of a lowly period.
The way I, and countless other people living paycheck to paycheck, thought about money was broken. I assumed that I needed to make more—and that was the problem.
Money was always the goal to me. Money meant success and happiness—and that’s what society, friends, family, and the media wanted me to think.
But what if this line of thinking is broken and dangerous?
What Is ‘Money,’ Anyway?
Money is a construct that we’ve created. In reality, money only has the meaning that we give to it.
A great and weird example of this happened in November 2016. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi invalidated 86 percent of all bills in circulation in India. The result? Absolute freakin’ chaos.
This is an example that you can hoard all the money you want, but it doesn’t have any actual worth. It’s just a paper symbol we created for convenience.
Once I realized that I idolized the artificial image of success and wealth, I knew something had to change.
Money Is A Tool
I changed my thinking from “Hot damn, I just got paid! Time to buy some Coach flats!” to “I will be responsible with my money.”
Money is a tool. That’s all it is, plain and simple. Money isn’t inherently good or evil, but it can be put to good or evil use. Do you use your money for good or evil? I used my money for evil for a long time: I had an expensive car, stayed up to date with the latest fashions, and threw everything on a credit card to worry about later.
But after seeing 23 cents in my checking account, I changed my tune. Money didn’t mean anything, after all, but being worry-free meant the world to me. It was time to stop living it up and be responsible with my money, even though there wasn’t a lot of it. I slowly built an emergency fund on my meager hourly rate. I managed to save $20 a week in my emergency fund, and I was so proud.
Money went from being an evil necessity to a mischievous best friend. Money could either be my prison or my paradise, and I had the key all along.
The Bottom Line
Money isn’t an end; it’s a means to an end. And it definitely doesn’t equal success and happiness. Money is a tool that can build you or ruin you, and only you have the power to use it. We need to repair the broken line of thinking that convinces us to buy a Corvette, get a million-dollar mortgage, and wear Gucci shoes. Instead, we should focus on the transformative power of money.
We should let our money grow for the future without going to the consumer-happy Dark Side. Invest, donate, or pay off debt with your moolah to use it as a force for good.
We want to know: How did you repair any broken thoughts about money?