Money is part of everyone’s life and most of us have a complex relationship with it. Whatever your religion or culture and wherever you live, you will have values and behaviours associated with money. How you acquire it, what value you place on having it, how you talk about it (or don’t), how you spend it and how you save it (or don’t). You may feel guilty about how you spend your money and how much you spend.
Most people use money as a way to compare themselves to others on some level.
“It’s alright for them, they have loads of money”
“Money doesn’t buy happiness”
“I am so lucky I have enough money to pay for a roof over my head and put a meal on the table”
“I’m lucky I have enough money, so I should give to others who have less than me”
“I live within my means. I am responsible”
“You only live once, there is no point in worrying about money”
“S/he earns more than me but I do the same job, so that’s not fair”
“I work hard to get promoted because I’ll earn more money”
“I earn more money because I have more responsibility than people in my organisation who are paid less”.
Some people only feel secure when they have lots of money and others are frightened of the responsibility of managing money; either extreme can result in a money phobia.
There is a plethora of books on how individual entrepreneurs made their fortune and how you can make yours. There are also books and talks that explore your attitude to financial abundance, which sits broadly under the category of wellbeing. There have always been groups of people who renounce worldly goods including money. The motivation is usually connected with spiritual fulfilment.
Whatever your perspective, we’re all obsessed with money.
Like most people, my attitude to money is influenced by my childhood experiences, overlaid and reinforced by the messages that I choose from the pick and mix of views that society feeds me.
Honesty here, both my parents were hopeless with money, that led to rows and stress at home when I was a child and ultimately to me and my brother financially helping out our parents when we were in our twenties. That left me very careful with money and critical of people who didn’t manage their money. I knew from personal experience not managing money has consequences for others and is irresponsible. A slightly arrogant attitude maybe, but there is some truth in it. My brother responded by valuing money quite highly and aiming to make plenty of it. Oddly enough I place little value on money itself beyond the security it provides. I expect no one to provide for me, the reverse. I would feel a failure if I relied on others to pay for my life. So there are my hang-ups. You’ll have your own set.
As a midlife woman my chickens are beginning to come home to roost and my careful ways beginning to pay dividends (sometimes literally). At the same time I find myself wanting and needing less money and placing a lower value on it. Not because I feel more secure (though I admit to a bit of that) but because I realise focusing on money as a goal is not the right way to think about money. According to many of the books and talks out there, it isn’t even the right way to go about acquiring it!
As a midlife woman I also now see that money and the security it buys is just another thing, as valueless and indulgent as a new pair of shoes or an exotic second holiday. I may save every penny I have but miss living today when I know for sure that I am alive. That doesn’t mean I’m about to get rid of all my savings. A time will come when I can’t work anymore or when people no longer want my services, so I’ll need my savings but I’ve realised that lots of the things still left in my life that I want to do, don’t cost that much. They are about sharing good times with friends, connecting with people in person and online; about learning new things for the sheer hell of it, about spending time in nature, reading voraciously and enjoying my garden. Yes, I need money for all those things but it is not the money that will enable me to enjoy them; that comes from my mind set.
So I’ve just purchased a pair of shoes online, not because I really needed them but because they are beautiful and it will please me to wear them. I shall wear them in honour of all the pairs of shoes I never bought because I decided to save for the future instead. Well the future is now, starting today.