Monday, May 19, 2008

The world doesn't owe you a living. About Money.

Money is very complicated.

That's an understatement.

The relationship you have with money will affect every aspect of your life: emotional, physical, spiritual, mental. Like most of the advice I've given you, moderation is the key. (Oh those clever Greeks...) That's because money is filled with paradox. Money can bring you joy or unhappiness. You can have a windfall, or lose it in minutes. You can be obsessed by money --either getting more of it or fearful of losing it. If you ignore money, you will be tortured by it too.

Money and sex are the two power issues of life. Money and sex make people do foolish things, like lie, cheat, steal, plot, kill. Money and sex are the two issues around which marriages flourish or founder. When you have the "right" amount of each, you don't think much about them. But when you don't have any at all, they are all you think about.

Money is a concrete, worldly thing -- but, another equally important aspect of money that most people ignore is that money is a spiritual thing. Your attitude about towards money affects the quality of your life. If can affect your ability to have harmonious, satisfying relationships. Your attitude towards money determines your ability to enjoy yourself and to realize your true self and your dreams.

If you are constantly anxious about money, or always feel you don't have enough, you need an attitude adjustment. Here are some thoughts about money, from the concrete to the metaphysical. I'll post it over several days. Here is part one.

Buy a book (or several!) about money and read it.
I agree with Suze Orman on this one. We go to college, we learn and study up about everything. But we never take a course in personal finance!

Money is complicated! You need to learn how to earn it, negotiate for it, manage it, save it, invest it, make it work for you. Money has its own set of distinct "rules." Learn what they are. In order to fully understand and respect money, you need to read and study about money. Think about your money, learn about money, read books, talk to experts and friends whose attitudes and money management you admire.

Just as your life's reading should include fiction, non fiction and poetry -- you should also read up on money.

Stop asking people, "How much?"
Often the first two words to pop out of a person's mouth when a friend has purchased something: How much? It is aggravating and besides the point. Assume it costs more than you think. Usually, if something was cheap, the person will offer that information because everyone loves to show how clever they are. But learning the price tells you what exactly? That the other person has money to spend? That the thing they bought was so expensive you could never afford it? That they are richer than you?

When I lived in Manhattan, the first thing people would ask me when they came into my apartment was, "Do you mind if I ask how much rent you pay?" I learned to smile and say, "A lot." The perfect, ambiguous answer. Because what is "a lot?" If means entirely different things to you and me. And that is precisely the point.

In short, asking, "How much" is gawking and just plain rude. More important, stop thinking of everything in terms of its monetary value. If you really want to know the cost of something, you can look it up yourself.

The world does not owe you a living.
Take control of your financial life. Earn the money you need. Be responsible. Don't wait for an inheritance. Don't marry for money. (Who was it who said, "She or he who marries for money, earns it.") Understand that you have the power to earn the money you need and want.

Bite the bullet.
Just as you should not worship money, do not be afraid of money either. By being afraid of money, you give it a power it doesn't have. Never feel powerless about money. Don't feel powerless about earning it, or changing the circumstances in which you find yourself. If something's too expensive, cut down, cut back.

Be honest with yourself about your money. If you are in debt, handle it. Decide what steps must be taken and do something about it. Seek help if you have to.

An example of what not to do is to close your eyes. Some friends lived in an overly expensive house, unable to meet mortgage payments. They lived in daily dread of when it would be taken away from them, creating altars to God in every room and praying daily for a miracle. They kept giving up things in the name of God if only he would act. This is not living, this is hell.

They should have faced reality: Found a cheaper house, sold their house and taken control of living within their means. But they didn't because it would signify in their eyes, defeat and shame. Fact is, we admire those who life themselves out of adversity, those who fight back and win. There is nothing shameful about having to cut back.

Don't compare yourself to others.
This is a true waste of time. There will always be people who have more money than you. And there will always be people who have less. Money does not define a successful life, as you will see. If you want to get into the comparing game, compare yourself only to people who have less than you do.

Being "rich" means more than just having money. Feel rich in your good health. Health is everything, because money cannot buy your good health. So look at your good health, your artistic sensibility, your ability to receive pleasure from literature, art, music, nature, people.

If you are a happy person, you are rich beyond words, beyond money.

To be continued!

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