A lot of people have very strong beliefs about money. In this article, I try to dispel some of the most common misconceptions I believe lead to unhealthy attitudes about money, and why we should cultivate a more balanced view about money and how it fits into our value system.
I imagine that before you even opened this article, you read the headline and had a strong reaction to it.
Maybe you read “revolt against money” and immediately thought, “Hell yeah – let’s do this! Money is evil, and we need to get rid of it – it’s ruining people’s lives.”
Or maybe you read the headline and thought, “Revolt against money? That’s ridiculous – money is what makes the world go ’round! We need money to survive.”
There’s no doubt about it – people have very strong beliefs about money.
I’m no different.
And throughout my meanderings into the blogosphere, I come across many different opinions about wealth and money.
- Some sites about money are scams, playing on people’s desires, promising you fast, easy, and effortless cash.
- Some sites about money just criticize those who try to make an extra buck writing e-books or doing coaching.
- Some sites about money proclaim the virtues of minimalism and relinquishing our desires for material possessions.
- Some sites about money proclaim the virtues of consumerism and the luxurious lifestyle.
I believe all of these extremes can reflect unhealthy beliefs about money. Rarely do I find a perspective that seems properly balanced (but I’m sure they exist…somewhere).
And I’ve written about these concerns before. In my post Money on My Mind: Tips for Financial Wellness I cite a declaration made by certain psychologists saying that our attitude about money is an often neglected factor to our happiness and mental health.
There are people at both extremes: those who worship money, and those who run away from it.
Of course, not everyone is at one of these two extremes, but from my personal experience many people unhealthily favor one side over the other. Here are some ideas I have to help cultivate a more balanced viewpoint that I find is more sensible and practical.
Money isn’t everything – no #$%!
One of the most common criticisms against money is that it “isn’t everything.” This is so glaringly evident to me that I wish I (and many others) didn’t feel the need to always say it (yet, here I am writing about it).
Yes, money isn’t everything. But that doesn’t automatically mean it has no value. My legs aren’t everything, but if I had the choice to have legs vs. not have legs – I would damn sure choose the legs!
In the real world, people are the same way with money. Most people when presented the choice to have more money vs. less money (all things being equal) will choose to have more money. Why is this?
Money can fulfill some of your values.
Okay, money can’t by itself buy you love or happiness, but it can fulfill some values in your life and other people’s lives.
At the very least, we understand that money is often necessary to provide food, shelter, and clothing – basic necessities. Let’s get that point out of the way – it’s moot.
Regardless of how much our basic needs are already satisfied, people will almost always choose to have “more money” over “less money” (all things, time and work, being equal). This is because money continues to satisfy values for us even when our basic needs are already met.
Yes, I get it – now that we have more money we can buy a new Xbox, or iPod, or Corvette – but that’s not the kind of value I’m talking about either.
Wanting more money doesn’t have to be a purely selfish thing. Money can be used to help others. You can donate to charities, organize a community event, invent something, fund scientific research, start a business, lend to a friend, or buy something from a local business and help your city’s economy, etc.
Money is just a tool that facilitates an exchange in value, but it is up to you to define the values in life that you want to support.
So one individual having more money than someone else can still be a net gain for all of society – it all depends on how that money was spent or invested.
I’ve said it before on this blog that I have very clear plans for making money throughout my life. Not just through this site (which I am currently in the process of monetizing), but through many different endeavors that I hope provide value to others.
And once I have money and I’m comfortable, I don’t just plan on splurging my earnings all on myself. I want to be a philanthropist. I want to be very active with charities and volunteer work, because I think those kinds of activities fulfill the deepest values for me (but they are values that are not OUTSIDE the context of “money” – money helps make those other values happen).
Why you shouldn’t get upset when your favorite blogger starts selling a product.
I mentioned earlier how I’ve been meandering through the blogosphere. I came across two posts within the past 24 hours that really irked me. I’m not going to bother linking to either one, but both basically said how online writers and bloggers who try to make money off their sites are doing a disservice to society.
Information and words, I am told, should always be free.
This poses a problem in my opinion.
If you enjoy a blogger, and you are educated and inspired by their writings, why wouldn’t you want them to be able to make a living doing that? Why would you subject them to have to also maintain a day job on the side, which only detracts that person from devoting more time doing something you you enjoy and receive benefits from.
I think the root of that “shouldn’t make money!” attitude is destructive. Not just to the person who wants to make a profit, but also to the people who enjoy the work and service they receive from that individual.
Keep in mind, in any voluntary marketplace, online or offline, you don’t have to buy anything you don’t want. No one is forcing you to buy their e-book, or their webinar, or their coaching. But if other people want to pay money to receive these things (if they perceive them as “valuable” enough to spend money on), then who are you to call the exchange illegitimate or evil or immoral.
This doesn’t mean there should be a price on everything.
Look, I’ve made it clear that I have intentions for making money on this site. I’m very open about that to anyone who asks me. But that doesn’t mean that everything I do here is solely driven by a profit motive. I genuinely enjoy writing about the things I do and interacting with like-minded people. I would still write about these things even if I wasn’t making money (although I definitely wouldn’t be writing about them as often).
If there is any proof of my dedication, it is the fact that I’ve written over 300 articles on this site and I’ve never charged anyone a single cent to read any of them. I don’t believe that everything needs to have a price-tag. And from my own research and experience, I’m actually discovering that giving away value (with no strings attached) is actually a great business model in the long-term.
I think – as a general trend – most businesses (especially online) have the incentive to offer the most value to their audience at the lowest and most reasonable price. In the end, I see these exchanges as a win-win for all parties involved.
I just wanted to get that off my chest.
I just wanted to get these things off my chest. I know I’ve written about some of these ideas in the past, but I’ve seen a lot of criticism lately and I wanted to clarify my point-of-view one more time (although it probably won’t be the last).
No, I don’t have an affiliate link to share with you, a product to sell, or even a link to my newsletter in this post.
I just wanted to voice my opinion – and you listening is all the value I needed in return. I appreciate it.
- What are some of your beliefs about money?
- Do you think money is a net gain or net loss for society?
- Are some of your beliefs about money affecting your own career choices and spending habits?
Please leave a comment below!