Developing a Better Relationship with Money
Page Updated on November 24, 2007
When people hear "developing a better relationship with money" they assume I must be speaking metaphorically or that it's a statement targeted only to people addicted to shopping, but we all have a relationship with money, and most of us should spend a little time improving that relationship.
Money is not the goal.
Respect for money should not be confused with the love of money or the idea that money equals success. Money is a tool for trade. Without trade, money is just hunks of disc-shaped metal pieces and rectangular pieces of paper or, in our technological age, a number in a database or on an account statement. It is not a score; the person with the highest number doesn't necessarily win. The purpose of acquiring money is to use it to meet your goals.
Money is not the root of all evil.
Money is just a system of trade. When we didn't have money, we had another form of trade, the barter system, which is still used in most of our lives daily whether or not we realize it. The basic idea behind any trade system is that the value of an individual's time, effort, and skill is exchanged for something of equal value. This value is agreed upon by both parties in a transaction (any exchange that is not agreed to is theft). There certainly is nothing evil about a fair trade.
When the money system was introduced, we were able to trade with individuals who had no use for the services or products we had to barter. For example, let's say that I can knit, so I knit gloves and scarves to trade. I meet a man who lives near the equator where it's quite warm, and he has tropical spices to trade. He would not be willing to trade with me for gloves and scarves no matter how nice they are because he has no use for them in a warm climate. With money, though, I can sell my scarves and gloves to another person for money and purchase the items I want from him without such conflicts.) The exchange of money is just another example of fair trade, and there is nothing evil about fairness.
Respect for money is respect for your own time, effort, and skill.
What would you NOT be willing to give to others for free? Babysitting, teaching, research, and gardening are things that I enjoy, but honestly I wouldn't be willing to invest the time, energy, and skill development into them just to do these things for other people unless I was receiving compensation or providing them as a gift. There are also things that I hate doing, such as working in stores, restaurants, or boring jobs, but I would only be willing to do them for compensation (especially if I needed extra money). Compensation comes in many forms, not just money. Perhaps I would babysit a friend's kids in exchange for her babysitting my kids (or housesitting while I'm on vacation or sewing a shirt for me because I couldn't afford to buy it at the store). When you choose to be compensated for your time, effort, and skill, you are affirming that you and what you offer in the world has value; you are an asset.
Some people have difficulty requiring or receiving compensation, especially money, for assets they provide. Often, this is because they have low self-esteem or worry that other people will think that they are greedy or selfish. How you take care of your money reflects how you feel about yourself. The truth is that you are valuable. The benefits you can provide to others are valuable, and anyone (including yourself) who expects you to provide your time, effort, and skill completely without compensation doesn't respect you or the services you provide. It is perfectly acceptable to give items and services away for free as gifts because in doing so you acknowledge that they have value and giving gifts brings you joy, but you should never feel obligated to provide or guilted into providing your assets for free (except when providing for the basic needs of your minor or impaired children or elderly or disabled parents, which you are morally, and in the case of minor children legally, obligated to do).
For the average person, the money you have acquired is most often earned rather than received as a gift. Earned money is compensation for and representation of your time, effort, and skill, and it deserves the same respect that you would give your own masterpiece. Money received as a gift represents the time, effort, and skill of somebody who cares about you, giving it sentimental value, and reduces the time, effort, and skill required of you in the future, so it too should have your respect even if you didn't directly earn it. In either case, the money you have is a symbol of what you could provide or have offered to others and deserves your respect.
See other Kristen's Guide topics in this category.