Like it or not, money is a part of life. Some need more than others and having it, can, bring some opportunities. Trick is, like most pursuits, balance. I encourage you to finish this article before you click out because you don’t want to deal with the topics in here. It’s time to just have a look inside.
One of the most interesting self reflective moments for me was a time I started thinking about what I would do with unlimited money. I started to feel the “need” for it….it struck me as a really interesting feeling. Though no stranger to that “need” feeling when it came to money, I wondered for a moment if I were addicted to it. I immediately thought, na…… then, I gave it a second thought.
I’d grown up thinking, the more money I could make, the better. I got married, had two kids, bought a condo, a couple cars….. the usual. And then, the race for money really began. Credit cards, trips, schooling, pass-times, better cars, toys, competing with the Jones’ stuff, I’m sure you all know. Before I knew it, piles of debt.
When my divorce happened, some of the reasons for which were, my work, the long amounts of time I was there and, my focus on trying to make more and more money. I had allowed my thirst for money to get in the way of the relationships which, were most important. The whole reason I was working so hard was for my family. During my divorce, so much of the arguments were, and continue to be about money.
I’ve watched family members come into fortunes and loose it all. I’ve watched as some go to great lengths to hide money from those who should be closest. I myself have squirreled it away. I’m sure if most of you as your reading this, will find it resonating. Our fixation on money, the things it buys, provides and does for us is unmatched. Or is it?
I started really wondering…..thinking, maybe I am addicted to money? I didn’t even like the sound of myself questioning this. So, I decided to have a good hard look at my relationship with money, see where I was with it, and as with any other relationship, find, define and then implement the right balance for me.
I looked at the pure definition of “Addiction” and found the following: Addiction, “is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences” I guess this sorta fit my circumstance but, it didn’t really nail what I was feeling. I didn’t feel like I had a “brain disorder”….geez, sounds really bad right. I decided to dig….. and looking to the behaviors around addiction:
I looked at other issues around addiction… An addictive behavior is a behavior, or a stimulus related to a behavior (e.g., sex or food), that is both rewarding and reinforcing, and is associated with the development of an addiction. Addictions involving addictive behaviors are normally referred to as behavioral addictions. Ok, this for me sounded right(ish)
I had to ask myself these questions:
1.) Was having money rewarding?
I guess so, I’ve always been told (and believed), the more of it I have, the greater status I’ll achieve.
2.) Once I had the money, was this feeling of increased status reinforced?
Uh, yeah for sure.
So, I certainly have addictive behaviors around money. Crap, I’m not excited about admitting that.
I guess I’m going to have to talk to myself here for a sec…..
Now the big questions…. what does it mean for me to have addictive behaviors around money? Its kind of like being addicted to food, sleep or water right?…. yeah I need these things to live?
Yes, I do. However, I felt I needed to compare this addiction to others in a similar class. With food, I make reasonably healthy choices…..I choose what goes in, how much, when and under what circumstances. With water I don’t drink tainted water, I’m careful about it. With sleep, I make sure I get enough and that I’m healthy.
Why is it with money that more is always better? Why when I get a raise, is it already gone or earmarked for something? It’s like I can never get enough….always more is better…Why did I put money in the same category as food, water and sleep?…really like an addiction…Oh crap! That’s when I realized, that very moment…. this is insane. Why would I have allowed myself to be so consumed and I didn’t even realize it! Ok, I needed to make some changes stat!
Debt. This was the pariah in my life. I started adding up how much money I was paying in interest. Omg! I needed to get rid of it. I figured out, was working about 10-12 hours a week to pay my interest load. One week per month I was working for someone else. I took my weekly pay, multiplied it times 12 months (one week for each month)..and wow! It was a lot of money. I took that amount and multiplied it times 30 working years…..nearly $1,000,000.
A couple things.
1.) start looking at money as a product. You pay for this product. The more you pay for this product the worse it is. For instance, the average credit card debt in the US is $16,048. At 21% interest, that is $3,370 per year in just interest. If you carried this debt from one card to another or collectively over 30 years, a credit card at 21% interest, would cost you more than $85,000 (without adjusting for inflation). That $85,000 if you invested it, would presumably double about every seven years if invested properly.
2.) Quit chasing the Jones’, quit “retail therapy”…. buying things to make you feel better. It so short term and you’ll really pay for it in the long term as I illustrated above.
Maybe time to look at your own relationship with money. Might be costing you more than you think. For me, its really all about being more self-reliant and aware of what is going on. An extra several hundred thousand dollars can go a long way. I wont be able to get rid of all my debt right away but, I’ve made big improvements. My grandpa had a great line, “He who understands interest, makes it. He that doesn’t, pays it”
I was a bond trader for many years. Managed millions and millions of dollars, I know what I’m talking about. This journey of self-reliance is a difficult one at times because confronting fears is never comfortable. The moment you decide, enough is enough, the shackles come off and the liberation begins. Do it!