I’ve been asking some serious questions over on my instagram page lately – and I’ve had varying but interesting responses!
Here were my questions:
“What money mistakes have you made?”
“What’s the worst thing about money?”
“If money was no object, what would you do?”
Based on the responses I got, it confirmed to me that money is so much more than the number that is in front of us.
Yes, money has a physical value that was brought into being by our ancestors who needed something easier to barter with than goats and donkeys….but money itself is so much more to us as human beings than this.
Quite simply: Money is the meaning we give it.
What Does This Mean?
Money can quite literally throw up all sorts of responses and feelings within us, including guilt, fear and shame. We can compare ourselves to others and wish we had more of it. If we let it, money can start to define WHO we are as a person and it can start to become linked with our own self-worth.
Money can feel like the source of all our problems, but in reality, money isn’t real. We MAKE it real by placing a meaning to it.
We can fear money, and this fear comes from a place of feeling out of control and that it is too hard to handle. What we don’t realise though is that money is actually not that difficult to manage. It’s our EMOTIONS that make it hard to manage.
But money does not have to make us feel powerless. It can be a source of support too – it just depends on your perspective!
So in the next section of the post, I thought I’d write about some of the responses I saw to my questions to encourage you to reflect on them to see what money TRUELY means to you – it’s far more than you realise!
What Money Mistakes Have You Made?
So not unsurprisingly, this question was perhaps the least enthusiastically answered. It’s VERY difficult to admit to our mistakes. This is why I publicly write about mine. I hope that by sharing my issues, I can help others avoid doing the same.
The themes that cropped up the most included:
Not Having A Plan
There were some comments about not having a financial plan in place to be better prepared in retirement. This is not a particular fault of anyone, it’s just a fault of a society that has failed to educate people about money and how to manage it properly.
The model of working, earning a pension, then retiring in your 60s may have been perfect for our grandparents generation, but as time goes on, we are being given more and more responsibility for our future selves than ever before.
The government and the companies we work for simply CANNOT afford for us all to retire in our 60s with a nice big pension. We are being made to pay more EITHER by paying more into a pension, OR by increasing the time we pay into our pension.
The WASPI campaign is a case in point of this. This is a campaign for a whole generation of women (my mum’s generation), who thought they were retiring at 60, only to now be told they are retiring far later. This is leaving them in huge financial hardship, stress and anxiety.
Not exactly what I would call a golden retirement as it would have been for our grandparents.
So not having a plan for your finances is like getting dressed in the dark or travelling without a map.
It’s a bit of a shambles and there are certainly no guarantees you’ll end up with what you want.
When planned properly, money is security, it’s peace of mind, and it’s something that can support us when we’re old.
Getting Into Debt
Some of the comments were also about being in debt and regretting it. I agree that debt is a MASSIVE stress for people, and is one the reasons why people develop mental health problems, or why their marriages might fail.
I got myself into debt, and now I’m getting myself out of it. I choose to look at it as a learning opportunity, and if I hadn’t got into debt, I wouldn’t be writing to you right now!
Money can be a real source of pain, especially if debt is a factor. Debt is NOT a reason to give up on life, and it can always be fixed. It’s a matter of when, not if you pay it off, but ONLY if you want to.
Like any addiction, overspending is a habit that needs to be broken by having a decent plan of action. We can often stay in debt far more than we want to because on an unconscious level, you actually want to be in debt.
It sounds weird, but it’s true!
Lack of money through having debt can be a security blanket. It can stop us from “stepping up” into life and doing the things we truly want to do. Being in debt provides us with a handy excuse for why we can’t do something, why we need to play safe and small in life. Without debt, we would have no excuses, and this can be a scary responsibility!
It can also be an opportunity for greater things – again, it just depends on your perspective!
What’s The Worst Thing About Money?
So this next question had a few more responses, and these were more diverse. Common themes included:
Not Having Enough Or Running Out Of Money
Scarcity mindset is so common when it comes to money. If you fear that it will run out, or that you don’t have enough, you will NEVER be satisfied. There has to be a point where it is enough, and that is ok.
The continuous pursuit of money for money’s sake is pointless. I think the way I would prefer to look at it is when do you reach a point that you have enough to sustain your lifestyle AND allow you to do all the things you want to do. Then money is more about the positive aspects of life, rather than the negative connotations of what “not enough” can bring.
To illustrate this, one money blogger in the US said that as he accumulates more money, beyond a certain point it just felt like he was drinking water. Necessary to a certain extent, but then in large quantities is boring and tasteless.
Worry, Destruction, Greed, Arrogance, Pain
These are all really strong and emotive words, and they cropped up frequently. Rather than money being a source for good, money can actually have the reputation for being a huge source for bad in this world. The rich can often be seen as miserly, grouchy individuals who take without giving. A “Mr Burns” character if you will! “Money is the root of all evil” is often misquoted in this context.
And look at Donald Trump. This man has huge sums of money, and in my opinion, is an awful example of a decent human being. And after watching a documentary about him on Netflix, I dislike him even more. He is the epitome of the rich a***hole.
So think about this; when you want to accumulate money in savings and investments, and you have an idea in your subconscious of what having a lot of money means (think rich-bitch), then you are very unlikely to achieve this goal!!
Think about it – why would you want to become more like the person you think is bad because they have money? You wouldn’t, right?!
So having a lot of money can be seen as a very bad thing, but what if you shift your perspective and see how USEFUL money is too? Think of all the good you could do. More people like YOU need more money in your life so you can get out there and do some good!!
If Money Was No Object, What Would You Do?
I wanted to finish on a high – and this question is a great one to reflect on. It’s also quite hard to do! Because what would you do?? If literally money was no longer a problem, what would you do? Would you still work? Would you pursue a passion or a hobby? Would you donate to charity?
This was a really popular answer. Having more money to some people would mean that they could go and travel the world! And what a fabulous dream to have! So money in this sense means freedom, and fun and a chance to explore what’s out there.
This featured high on the list too. Many people wanted to settle down and have babies. Paying off everyone’s mortgage in the family and building a home were high on the agenda too! Again, these things are about money providing security, freedom and bringing joy to your loved ones. This meaning is HUGE!!
Give To Charity
One person suggested that if money were no object, they could help children’s mental health services. This is such an amazing and selfless suggestion. It’s so easy to be swept up in all the exciting things we will do with a lot of money, but with this comes responsibility. If more of us had larger sums of money, we could help more in society. There are charities and causes all around us that are screaming out for money. Imagine being a patron of a research charity, or setting up a women’s refuge.
Money provides freedom for us, AND those all around us.
So How Does This Help?
Knowing what beliefs you hold about money can really help to shape what you do next. Money can mean freedom for you and your family. It can mean security in your old age or travelling the world instead of being trapped at work. Money can mean that you can support a charity and do some serious good in the world.
Why keep these ideas in the dream phase? Why not find out how to make them realities in your life!?
And all of this starts with some very basic money management concepts to get the ball rolling.
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