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Battle of the Riches: Good vs. Evil. Which Side is Money On?

This article was written by in Money Management. 12 comments.


SmartCents, Inc. logoIn my review of Cash, Cars & College by Janine Bolon, I didn’t mention the author’s thoughts on the nature of money, which she included in the book. To expand on this section, Janine has offered the following guest post.

Why Become Wealthy? Believe it or not, I’ve actually been asked this question by a student of mine! She totally did not get why anyone would want to be wealthy. After asking her to define what it was to be wealthy for the class I quickly became aware that she had a mental block to becoming wealthy. To her, “Rich” people acquired their secure financial state by abusing and crushing those around them to gain more and more money.

With that sort of paradigm floating around in her head, is it any wonder that this woman had problems saving money? She was in continual battle with herself! She knew she needed money, but anytime she had too high a savings account she would “splurge” on some item and blow out her stash of cash so that she was back to living paycheck to paycheck. Ouch! How painful is that?

To my sadness, this student is not alone in her assessment of “rich” people. Throughout my travels, classes and seminars I find that roughly 45% of the people who are having problems with money have to deal with this issue first before anything else can happen! No, it is not your credit card debt that is the problem, at least that isn’t the core issue with your financial scarcity.

The issue is much more basic then credit card debt. You have not given yourself permission to become wealthy because you haven’t answered these questions for yourself:

  1. Do you see money as good or evil?
  2. Do you want to have more cash because you can use it to buy things that you or people in your life need or want?
  3. Are you afraid of having too much money because the only people who seem to have lots of it are the folks who have done something bad to get it?

These are some of the first questions you need to ask yourself. If you see money as a necessary “evil,” your ability to find and save money, let alone use it wisely, will be colored by your negative view of what it can do. Money is not evil. Money is only a tool, like a hammer. You can use that hammer the right way, to build a house for someone who needs one. Or you can use it the wrong way, to smack someone on the head. Either way, the hammer has no choice in how it is used. Good or bad, right or wrong, the choice along with credit or blame, belongs solely to the person who wields it.

The same is true for money. Money is a useful tool, a medium of exchange that allows you to buy stuff you want. Money spends, regardless of how you get it. The bucks from your paycheck buy just as much as the cash you get from part-time employment, or the coins you picked up in the parking lot. The sales clerk and the shop owner don’t care where you got the money; it spends. The only “good” or “bad” in money is what you bring to it.

If you think that money is “evil,” take a minute to ask yourself some questions.

  1. “Why do I believe that money is evil?”
  2. “Is my view colored by how my parents handled cash?”
  3. “Do my friends have money, and do they use it well?”

Write your answers down on a piece of paper, and then read them aloud to yourself. Why? Because as long as you believe that money is “bad” you will not be able to make or keep much of it. It is very important that you understand the battle in your brain as you go about changing your thoughts on money. If you want to keep money flowing in your life and working for you, then define for yourself what type of wealthy person you want to be.

Once you have a clear picture of the type of person you envision yourself to be and how you will handle money, then you can move toward creating it in your personal life. All it takes is a bit of introspection and reworking your internal definitions on what it means to be wealthy.

Cash, Cars and College by Janine BolonJanine Bolon is the author of Money…It’s Not Just for Rich People! and Cash, Cars and College. She is also a radio talk show host and financial coach. Check out her web site, Smart Cents, Inc., for more tips on wealth accumulation and frugal living. Janine invites you to subscribe to her free newsletter, My 2Cents, which can be found on her website.

Updated January 16, 2010 and originally published June 19, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Janine Bolon

Flexo:

Thank you for reviewing the book as well as posting the article. You mentioned taxes in your review of the book and I would like to address that for your readers. When you apply the 40/60 principle to your money (It is 60/40 for adults), you do that with the money that is available for your use. Since Uncle Sam is so good at taking his share right off the top, you make the calculations based on your net income not your gross.

I hope that helps a bit. If you or any of your readers have questions on these points, please email me through my web site and I will answer them as soon as possible.

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avatar Lazy Man and Money

My answers to the questions:

1. Money is neither good or evil. I skipped over the rest of the article (sorry Flexo) and wrote that I view it like a hammer. Since that’s nearly exactly what Flexo wrote, I deleted it. I just wish he had put a reference to the hammer being silver and belonging to Maxwell.

2. Money equals freedom to me. With money, I’m free to do things that I want whether it’s retire, help a friend of relative, buy a shiny toy, or give to charity.

3. No, there are a lot of people with a lot of money that haven’t done bad things at all.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,465 (Platinum)

Lazy Man: For the record, Janine wrote about money being a hammer. I’d like to take credit for that metaphor, but it is purely the author’s.

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avatar plonkee

Money is simply a way of comparing apples and oranges.

Having said that there is something in the ‘rich people are evil’. To get very rich or get rich quickly you generally do have to relax your ethical standards. I can see how that mindset doesn’t help people, you can be monetarily comfortable with high ethical standards more easily that without them.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,465 (Platinum)

I agree that money is simply a tool and can neither be good nor evil, but we have all had the benefit of some level of maturity to come to these conclusions. I’m interested in the emotional side of money from a kid’s point of view, which would certainly be different than ours.

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avatar dong

I don’t think rich people are evil. I think rich people are either usually either lucky or smart (or sometimes just physically gifted). That said being evil, or acting unethically is a way of getting rich quickly. Sadly that cannot be said of being ethical (at least for getting rich quickly).

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