Wealth is a state of mind. Hear me out before you think I’m a nut job for making this statement. I know this sounds a little weird and metaphysical, but from my experience it’s true. The psychology related to money and wealth is important to understand, much more than the physical process. The mechanics of investing and growing a business are important to act upon, but easy to grasp. A simple way is to find out how others achieved the results you want and copy it.
On the other hand, the psychology of money and wealth is hard. Too many people have self-limiting beliefs when it comes to money and wealth, and at times I, myself, am included.
Often times people do irrational things when being rational is a much better solution. When it comes to money, people get downright nuts. Benjamin Graham’s Mr. Market comes to mind. It’s been said people like to talk less about money than sex. Yet money affects us in our daily lives. At least when I went to school, we didn’t learn anything about money, not even in home economics. So if it’s not discussed in school, friends don’t want to talk about it, and if your parents weren’t good with it, how can one become an expert in money? Instead we get ideas about wealth and money piecemealed together at various times in our life.
Money Is Just a Tool
It’s been said money is the root of all evil, but is that really true? I had a college friend that always spewed that mantra whenever he could. So it’s no surprise today he’s the head of a local teachers union pushing for teachers rights so they are paid fairly (but I thought teaching was for the kids?).
My friend’s parents lacked money, and he held my other friend’s dad in contempt because he had a lot of money. My friend’s belief that money was evil (among many other things) lead him down a specific path in life. Where are your beliefs about money and wealth taking you? Most don’t consciously think about money.
I believe the lack of money is the root of all evil. Over the centuries, countries have gone to war, and people have been driven to do desperate things just to put food on the table. Individuals have resorted to acts of violence, stealing, lying and cheating all for the sake of surviving.
Money is inert. Money is just a means to store effort (otherwise known as human capital) and exchange that effort with others. Money is neither good or bad. It knows no hatred, no pity, success or failure. Money is only “good” or “bad” based upon how it’s used. Just like a gun, money is just a tool. It’s nothing more or less, but maybe the most complex tool we know least about. Doesn’t it make sense to become an expert in a tool you use so often? In today’s world understanding how to use a computer is critical. It’s important if you want a well paying job and to interact with friends and family online. Yet many in the population will know more about Snooki, than how to balance their checkbook.
My focus has always been how to effectively use money. How can I earn more money with less effort. Let me give you an example. Sure you can dig a ditch with your own hands, but how effective is it? A shovel will get the work done in half the time and with less effort. With this blog, I hope I’m helping my readers put their money to more effective use, or at least removing limiting beliefs so they can increase their income. I know this sounds a little cliché, but my goal is to make money work for you, rather than you working for money.
The Psychology of Being Poor
I also find fascinating what others think of money and how it plays out in their decisions. Starting with the financial crisis in 2008, to recently the Occupy Wall Street movement, the zeitgeist of the country has definitely changed. In my opinion, the change is not for the better. Instead of once looking up to others who’ve achieved financial success, society is now looking at them in contempt. In some cases blaming groups in society for our ills, instead of blaming the individual (ie. “Bankers add no value to society, and where the cause of the financial crisis. Wall Street was bailed out, but Main Street was not.”). In reality, many groups were involved in the financial crisis, and not one single group can be blamed: the homeowners, the real estate agents, home appraisers, politicians, investment bankers, etc. It’s easy to find a scapegoat when you don’t blame yourself for your actions.
In my opinion, most of the time when someone is poor it’s from bad decisions they’ve made in their life. The decision to pick a college major because it was “easy” and party instead. The decision to ignore changes in the marketplace. The decision to not constantly learn new skills. The decision to have a child out of wedlock. The decision to not work hard or take a “cushy” job.
I don’t look down on someone who’s made these decisions. Who am I do judge someone else when I haven’t walked in their shoes, and it’s their life, not mine. Though no one should judge me for decisions I’ve made in my life, if it’s put me in a better position financially.
Why do some people, who don’t have any money, have angst against others that do? Could it be as simple as envy? There’s no dastardly plot by Dr. Evil to target poor people and suck them dry of their money. Rich people don’t think of ways to stick it to others; instead they focus on how they can add value to others.
Many act as if people with money must have done something evil and wronged others to attain it. Nothing can be further from the truth. Most who create wealth do so by the rules setup by society and created their wealth ethically. Yes, of course, there are exceptions: some get a lucky break, some do it unethically or by illegal means. Most achieve wealth by hard work and taking risks. They are then rewarded for their effort. You don’t get something for nothing, and you don’t stay wealthy by luck alone. Know the difference from being “lottery lucky” from an overnight success that was ten years in the making.
Money Is a Means to an End
My pursuit of money and wealth has always been much more than about the money itself. It’s always been means to an end, than an end in itself. To me gaining money has been about taking care of my family, being self-sufficient and not relying on the government for aid, and enjoying the occasional material splurge. I hope my family can get to the point where we can donate a decent percentage of our money to charity. Money is just a means to make you feel good.
Only until recently have I not cared what others think of me when I start discussing money. I rather speak from my heart and do the right thing than worry what others might think of me. Even if this means someone might mistake me for being materialistic, or that I must not care about the poor. I really don’t care what other’s think of me anymore. Again money is just a means to my end. We do have some materialist things, and in perspective it’s not much. I’ll have no issue if our material things were gone. Money to me is just a means to keep score. Ironically it’s not with others, but my own personal goals in life.
You Are Already Wealthy!
Wealth without question is a state of mind. You can be well off, yet still feel poor. I know because I’ve felt this way. I have some friends who are really struggling financially, yet I complain about the issues I have in my life. There’s no comparison, and I should feel grateful for what I have.
Getting to some financial goal does not then mean you’ll never have to worry about money again. If anything, to quote Notorious B.I.G., Mo Money Mo Problems. Just realize having more money does not solve all your problems. If anything, it amplifies your character flaws and weaknesses.
We live in one of the wealthiest times in history, even after the financial crisis. People even in the lower income brackets have things that our ancestors didn’t have 100 years ago. Almost everyone has running water, a roof over their head, clothing, and enough food to eat. Even today, there are parts of the world that can’t say this.
Money Is Flowing All Around You
Instead of coming from the idea that money is scarce, we should hold the belief that money is available all around you. As simple as this sounds, this belief is much more empowering than believing money is scarce. All you need to do is figure out how to capture it.
My imaginary lack has caused great stress in my life. Even though my wife and I make a very good income, it’s always something that’s been a concern for me. We have a lot of obligations, and it’s no longer just me. Having a wife and raising three children adds to my daily worry. My fear, as silly as it sounds, is I won’t be able to support them. I have high standards, and I’m concerned I won’t be able to meet them.
I recently changed my metaphor, and it really helped me. All I have to do is figure out how to capture money by adding value to others. By just changing this thought process, it has relieved a decent amount of stress in my life. So just be thankful you are alive. You get to live another day, and get one step closer to achieving your goals and role in life.
Improve Your Psychology Towards Money
I recently listened to an Anthony Robbins program about wealth. Yes the big teeth informercial guy. I’ll admit I’ve been a fan of his work for years, and I like most of his work. I’m excited because in March will be attending his Unleash the Power Within seminar in New York (see my review). In case you are wondering – yes I’ll be doing the infamous firewalk.
Previously I had a link to a program available for free on the Tony Robbins website. It is no longer there but is still available commercially on Amazon.
It’s called: Anthony Robbins — Financial Freedom
The details in Tony’s program is simple, but still worth listening to so you can improve your psychology towards money.
Readers: What limiting beliefs do you have about money and wealth? What path is your belief about money and wealth taking you towards?