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Your Relationship With Money

This article was written by in People. 25 comments.


Have you ever had a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife you want to see again the moment he or she is out of your sight? Has love ever felt like a drug, something you need every minute, and you need more each time? Have you ever failed to understand why you constantly desire a lover who treats you poorly? Perhaps you long for the guy or girl you knew twenty years ago, a fleeting infatuation. Like love, it’s possible for any one person to have a differently relationship with money than the next individual. Love may be a mystery, but money is usually concrete.

What role does money play in your life? I’ve seen everything.

1. Money is the goal itself. Working in the financial industry, this attitude comes as no surprise to me. When the ultimate goal is to accumulate an impressive bank account balance or net worth, the unconditional love of money helps people rationalize their behavior; the end, being wealthy, often justifies the means with this attitude. Never mind the good that can be done with this money; often, those who are obsessed use the wealth they accumulate to buy items that exist primarily to show that wealth off, not items that increase happiness. The philosophy is that displaying wealth to the world increases the chances of attracting more wealth. Even if there is some truth to that, there are other costs, as well.

I may be critical of those who place their faith in money alone, but I’m not anti-wealthy.

2. Money is evil. At the other extreme, you might find people who turn away from wealth at all time. They may have had a bad experience with money in the past. Perhaps they watch the news and take to heart the latest scandals and scams, and assume that money always makes people to awful things to one another. Nations war and people die over money. Bad behavior is often rewarded in the marketplace. How can money be a positive force when it encourages people to make bad decisions? People who think money is evil may not trust the banks to hold onto savings accounts.

This approach is dangerous because it helps those who hold this philosophy to avoid financial freedom, the ability to live mostly on one’s own terms.

3. Money is a tool. This is my camp. Money didn’t exist forever, and happiness itself is a modern concept as well. Money only increases happiness to a point, so why accumulate more money than you need to achieve maximum happiness? There are good reasons. If you set relevant life goals, like helping eliminate hunger in your country, providing all opportunities possible for your children, or encouraging education in the arts, money is one of the strongest tools for reaching your goals. These goals don’t stop at a certain dollar amount. More can always be done.

When I hear someone say their life goal is to have a nest egg of $1 million when they retire, the question I think of is, “Then what?” I understand that decades of hard work can make someone long for retirement and an end to the rate race, but it’s the financial freedom that should be important, not a monetary target. Targets are useful when deciding how to allocate and invest your wealth as it grows, but money is not the purpose intrinsically.

Squirreler shared his thoughts about the role of money in his life, putting money on an equal ground with health and relationships. Health and relationships contribute to happiness. Wealth contributes as well, but only insofar as it fosters health, relationships, and other things like experiences, self-worth, and independence. Therefore, I would not put wealth in a symbiotic equilibrium with anything else. It’s another layer that helps amplify everything else; people who have a positive outlook on life while improve with wealth, while people who take a destructive approach to living will only become more dangerous.

Wealth makes life easier and helps you reach real goals, but money is neither inherently good nor inherently bad.

Published or updated December 12, 2011. 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 .

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kyle

Where does “swimming around in a money bin full of gold coins a la Scrooge McDuck” fit in? I’m guessing #1.

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avatar Mike

I loved that show. I definitely want to make that reality happen if I could. Still can’t figure out how he swam in it though. :)

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avatar tbork84 ♦1,867 (Half-Dollar)

Thank you for that comment. Great way to start off my day with a laugh.

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avatar Mike

My favorite cartoon back in the day.

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avatar retirebyforty

I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to money, but I agree with you that money is a tool to a less turbulent life. Money is good. :)

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avatar Doctor S

I love your response to the people that say they want X amount of dollars by this certain time “Then What?”.

I am learning every day about myself in respect to money. It’s like my mindset changes every few weeks and I always think of new ideas what I want to do. For the next year, I know I want to travel and enjoy myself. That means saving and spending my money in a more meaningful fashion, rather than overpaying Sallie Mae. Time to put the money to work.

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avatar SteveDH

Money was the greatest invention of all time! It relieved us from the trouble of finding someone with extra eggs and a need for grain when we farmed grain. However it is neither good nor bad – it is a tool. Cash flow is the only measure of financial success because it not only implies a wise use of resources but also a measure of savings. Negative cash flow (debt) is fool’s measure of success based on toys, appearances, and an unwillingness to face the future.

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

I’m assuming like most people, I think of money somewhere in between. Of course it’s not the most important thing in my life, but money plays a significant role. I don’t think money itself is inherently good or evil; it depends on someone’s perception and usage.

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avatar krantcents

I agree with you money is a tool! It is also a score card on how well you are doing. You can stretch it or spend it well maximizing its value. For example, buying from discount stores, avoiding pitfalls like paying interest on a credit card or a high mortgage rate.

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avatar Barb Friedberg

Flexo, I’m going to tell you this, but please don’t tell anyone; I’m kind of like retirebyfory-and like to hoard money. I’m kind of infatuated with having it, although I wouldn’t say I’m extravagant for my financial station. I like knowing it’s there! And of course, I also like the security it provides!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,371 (Platinum)

It’ll be our secret. I’m afraid I like spending money as much as I like saving it. I’m still getting used to the idea of having money to spend. Not too long ago, there wasn’t much. I like seeing my numbers go up… but only because it’ll give me freedom and flexibility.

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avatar Clay Ivy

Money = Freedom
Without an adequate amount of savings, we are slaves to a job or to a certain standard of living. Money is what allows us to spend time doing what we find to be most important. For instance, Bill Gates now uses his time (and large amounts of money) saving lives around the world with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Along with Warren Buffet, Mr. Gates tries to convince the rest of the wealthy that they should also give large parts of their fortune away. Not in the future, but now. I think this will pass on to the future rich, and it might end up being the wealthy who do the most good. They are surely the most capable.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)
avatar Yana

Money is a tool, and a means of freedom and function in our society. Because our society runs on it, I want a lot of it. This is not due to being materialistic, but because I can’t know or control what society is going to require from us. I was also thinking about the question often asked, “Do you eat to live or live to eat?” in regards to employment. We don’t live to be employed or to do what we don’t want to do in order to acquire money. We want money to live, but don’t want to give up life itself to get it. Like most people, we want enough money so that pursuing it will be entirely unnecessary – it’s called “retirement”. ;)

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avatar LifeAndMyFinances

There is a fine line between a “love of money” and “money is a tool”. Both require you to put your focus on saving and investments as you go through life.

I know that for myself, I need to step back sometimes and realise that wealth accumulation is not an end goal, but a way of life that I wish to create for myself. If I accumulate enough income to retire from my regular work, I can spend more time with family, exercise more, and spend more time volunteering.

Money will allow me to live a better life and be with the ones I truly love: my wife and my family.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

You just tugged at my heartstrings. Your attitude will provide you and your family with balance and true happiness. Good luck.

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avatar Evan

I think I have an obsessive relationship straddling between #1 and #3… I haven’t been able to figure out how to shut that part of thinking during the week.

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avatar Jim

Money is just a measure in the great game, so I partially agree with 1. I think a lot of rich people don’t make / save money for the things that it can buy (this simply ends up being a bi-product of having so much wealth), but rather as measure of how ‘successful’ they have been. The more the better.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

I repeat, … then what?

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avatar Benjamin

I’m of the camp that money is a tool as well. I see money as a means contributing to an end. It opens up more opportunities to pursue what truly makes you happy! For instance, I would love to go back to school and pursue a phd, or other advanced degree which would allow me to teach business at one of the local colleges here in Maine. Unfortunately, this is not practicable (financially speaking) for me without totally disrupting my family life (I have a wife and three kids).

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avatar Ceecee ♦796 (Dime)

I’m afraid it’s a love/hate thing for me. Love when there is enough and hate when I fall short. Thankfully my personal relationships are much better than my relationship with money. After a drought, I have trouble spending even if the money is there.

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avatar Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

I’m with you. Money is just a tool to help you get by.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I’m with you that money is a tool. I used to be a money is everything person but then went through a few trials that made me realize that I would have paid any amount of money for my health and/or love or friendship. I never realized the truth of those comments people made ” I would pay any amount of money to see ???? or if I could only get rid of this bad back .

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avatar wylerassociate ♦905 (Dime)

I use money as a necessary evil to survive in this world. I try to be objective and not look at issues like this simplistically. I want to create wealth for myself & my family so when I leave this world I know that my family will be secure.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

I agree that money is a tool. One of many in the box. I’ve had money and not had money. Thankfully having it or not has never defined who I am. My focus has always been how to use it wisely. I use this tactic with everything I do. Guess I can be pretty boring in the big scheme of things. But, content.

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