August 16, 2016

How Understanding Money Helps us to Live the Lives we Choose.

Artist Beata Ratuszniak

Which money philosophy camp do you place yourself in?

The one where “money is a piece of paper with Presidents on it,” or the “You can’t do sh*t without money,” camp?

Whatever philosophy you agree with, we need money to pay for basic survival needs such as shelter, food and clothing.

Money is a part of reality.

Despite trying to avoid money for being dirty or hampering my artistic lifestyle, it is part of my life and supports my existence that I choose to live—as an artist.

By understanding why money is important and how it works, we can feel confident, have self-respect, and be trusted for our honesty by our community.

One view that has helped me look at money as a tool and something I can manage wisely, is from a book written in the 1920s by an American named George S. Clason, The Richest Man in Babylon.

The book highlights a case study of an ex-slave from Babylon, who goes through the mill with bad investments. However, with the help of wise advisers, he then makes smart choices by making wise investments and eventually pays himself out of debt and slavery, gets his wife back, and returns to be a respectable citizen of society.

Here are some takeaways from the book.

Money Principles:

Money is the medium by which earthly success is measured.

Money makes possible the enjoyment of the best the earth affords.

Money is plentiful for those who understand the simple laws which govern its acquisition.

Money is governed today by the same laws which controlled it when prosperous men thronged the streets of Babylon, six thousand years ago.

Simple Rules of its Acquisition:

Start thy purse to fattening.

Control thy expenditures

Make thy gold multiply.

Guard thy treasures from loss.

Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment.

Insure a future income.

Increase thy ability to earn.

The Five Laws of Gold:

Save 10 percent of all earnings to yourself. This is for your future. (Clason mentions to use 70 percent for expenses such as food, clothing, entertainment, and 20 percent to pay off debts).

Make money work for you.

Invest your money with wise money managers.

Keep to what you know for investments.

Don’t fall for gimmicks when investing.

The key, I think, is to use money as a tool for living comfortably instead of letting the issue of money control us from living comfortably. Having this healthy view toward money is the first start because we feel at cause, like we have the power to have a certain attitude and choice in how we handle our money—instead of money controlling us.

The second step is to have a plan or budget how to use the money. A budget helps us to see how the past, present and future all connect. By looking at prior purchases, debts, and earnings, we can then learn from our mistakes while making goals to pay off our debts and save money.

Denial, remorse, regret are some negative feelings that may arise when we have financial problems. But these feelings don’t make the problem go away. Seeing how much money we have, what we have to do to get out of debt, making a plan and being honest with ourselves is worthy of high respect and is even considered virtuous. Hypothetically, if someone paid off a loan from me, I would first be surprised because I wouldn’t have expected them to pay it back at all. And when they did pay it off, I would be able to trust them to a greater degree, not just with money, but also that they carried out what they said they would do. You can really tell a person’s character based on what they do, rather than what they say.

I don’t like to talk about money because I feel it is too dry, stale, cold and ruthless. It is unfair how money is distributed in the world today, and it makes me angry to see so many poor people being ignored and even vilified by the wealthy.

I use money every day, and it is part of reality. I think talking about the subject of money hampers my creativity. I would rather be chasing butterflies than analyzing the stock market ratings.

Money is just too mundane, materialistic, which has nothing to do with creativity. I am not Warren Buffett. I just get by and am happy that I don’t have any more debts, so far. Now I can manage, guard, and grow money to help me live the life I choose. There were a few times when I was anxious about my financial situation. But by having a healthy view of it and planning, I know I’ll be alright.

I hope these tips and insights about money will help us attain the material comforts to live the lives we choose.

Like the ex-Babylonian slave, may we be able to say:

“Nor is he the only one who holdeth me in high regard. Many others speak deferentially to me. My good wife looketh upon me with a light in her eyes that doth make a man have confidence in himself. Yet it is the plan that hath made my success. It hath enabled me to pay all my debts and to jingle both gold and silver in my purse. I do commend it to all who wish to get ahead. For truly if it will enable an ex-slave to pay his debts and have gold in his purse, will it not aid any man to find independence? Nor am I, myself, finished with it, for I am convinced that if I follow it further it will make me rich among men.”

Now with this money wisdom, may we go back to chasing our own “butterflies.”


Author: Stephanie Lee

Image: Beata Ratuszniak/Unsplash 

Apprentice Editor: Sarah Shin; Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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