Sometimes I don’t know why I write these types of blog posts. I don’t do it because I feel like I know more than other people. I don’t necessarily do it because of the copious amount of wine I may or may not be consuming. I think I do it because of the vast amount of financial situations I get to sift through on a regular basis. While I’m outwardly trying to assist people in making the best possible financial decisions, internally I’m asking myself very weird questions about the people I’m assisting. Don’t worry, I’m not wondering if they’d make a good skin suit or something. I’m wondering about what role money plays in their lives.
Over the years I’ve discovered there are four primary reasons why people need money. Sure, you can certainly take the boring, dumb view of this and say this is a stupid question. But we’re all better than that. Money is man-made. Mankind decided that we needed it, and we’ve decided they were right. Surprisingly enough though, we’ve evolved from this original decision, and individually, we need money for a few standard reasons.
1. To makeup for the past- You may currently have a very healthy, grounded view of money, but your past may not. Unfortunately, until your past obligations are satisfied, your past wins. These obligations come in many forms: debt, judgements, garnishments, collections, and even over-commitments to mortgages, student loans, and car loans. If you have ever said to yourself something like “I would never have paid this much for a house, if I had it to do all over again,” then you need money because of that past decision. As daunting as this realization is, it’s not the end of the world. Once you clear the past, then you can firmly form your money relationship with the present and the future. This should be your aim. Hell, it’s just how it works. It’s a process.
2. To fund a dream or lifestyle- I’m not hating the player, or the game. If you need money in order to fund a chosen lifestyle or dream, cool. You just need to make sure this doesn’t turn into funding your past. Have you always wanted to open a bakery? Awesome, use money to do this. And make me some donuts. Have you always wanted to live in NYC? Cool. Do it. Have you always wanted to send your kids to private school? Cool. Public schools are better, but cool. Half-kidding.
3. To fund a habit- Financially speaking, is a shopping habit any worse than a drug habit? Is a dining-out habit any worse than a drinking habit? Is an over-gifting habit any worse than a gambling habit? Again, financially speaking, I don’t think any of them are different from each other. Addiction is addiction. I’d love to tell you about the two worst clinically addicted individuals I’ve ever come across, but their spending habits make me uncontrollably sad. Seriously. Why is your insistence on spending money on something trivial, okay? It’s your money, feel free to do what you like. But the reality is that you need money because you have a jones for an item or experience that has taken ahold of your sensibility. This is why YOU need money.
4. It’s simply a byproduct of work- A job’s main purpose doesn’t have to be the generation of income. Income can simply be the byproduct of work. In my opinion, this renders money worthless. I believe this to be a good thing. I understand how weird this sounds. If you understand this, then you understand it. If you don’t, you have yet another reason to think I’m a jackass. There are some very centered individuals both objectively wealthy and not, that feel as though money is silly. I hope to get to this point in my life. It takes a tremendous commitment to cause and purpose to render money worthless. Wealth alone, even vast wealth, doesn’t get a person to this point. It’s a combination of reduced financial obligations, a purpose-driven life, and effortless frugality.
Why do you need money?
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.