Sit down for a moment and think about your finances. Are your finances where you want them to be? Are you rolling in tons of green? Are you in debt to the point where you feel crushing financial obligation? Do you feel like you’re making enough at your job? Do you feel like you’re even working a job you give a shit about? What is your total relationship to money?
Just like an inter-person relationship, there are so many different dynamics to money and your perspective and feelings on it. Pretending that money is just the paychecks that you take in or each penny you pick up is erroneous and rather flawed thinking. Even if you attribute money to your job and the amount of coinage and dollars you “own,” it is so much more. It’s more than just what comes up in the bank account, what comes up on the bills, and even what you need to get what you want. It’s a complete and total relationship to energy and each thing that money can symbolize in that energetic relationship as well as your feelings about the whole process.
For a brief reconsideration of money, here are places where it touches your life and your relationship to it is determined, enhanced, damaged, etc:
- How much time you spend commuting (30 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour?…)
- Whether or not you are compensated for this commute (gas, time spent en route, etc)
- What you commute with (car, bike, bus, combination…)
- Whether or not you are compensated for the costs of your commuting vehicle (car repairs, bus pass, car insurance, etc.)
- What you do for a living
- Your satisfaction with what you do for a living
- How much you get paid to do this for a living
- Job perks (healthcare, uniforms, free lunch, etc)
- How much you pay for those perks (if you pay at all)
- How much you actually pay for those “perks” (yeah, we get free lunch but I hate the food and buy or bring lunch every day… *or* yeah we get healthcare but I have to pay 75% of the doctors’ costs so it really costs me…)
- Living expenses (basic living expenses like rent & utilities, garbage, water)
- Make life more fun living expenses (like internet, netflix…)
- Grocery (only grocery)
- Eating out (yes, you should calculate this separate from grocery because it’s not the same thing)
- Going out like bars, musicals, other social events
- Entertainment (like movies, video games, ballets, operas, plays…)
- Traveling (if you have to pay for this– even though it might be fun to calculate the costs even if you have accrued mass points for being a frequent flyer or whatever)
- Crap (like ipads, ipods, books, toys, furniture, yarn, circular knitting hooks…)
- Replacement Crap (like your couch finally met its maker and you got a new one)
- Clothing (for everyone)
- Health Care (even if that’s echinacea tincture and you administered it yourself without doctor’s orders)
- Sanity Keepers (your monthly yoga pass, your favorite beer, whatever)– that thing that you occasionally allow yourself because if you didn’t “treat” yourself from time to time you’d break down in a sloppy mess of tears and expletives
- All the stuff you already own
- Gifts that you receive
Obviously this list, despite encompassing much of what you regularly experience concerning money, is only a partial list at that! Money fuels the entire existence of us privileged first world assholes and even affects the existence of the underprivileged masses the world over. The lack of money and financial security drives droves of farmers in other countries to committing suicide. The lack of money drives many impoverished people into unsafe drinking water, food scarcity, and debilitating illnesses from unsanitary living conditions and lack of access to medical care. Money is universally accepted as a prerequisite toward living in any capacity if not an ideal one.
Aside from the life that money is accepted as giving, money can be the sum of all parts of your life. In essence, I’m resting my feet on money as I type on money wearing money next to the money I birthed from my uterus lying under a warming blanket of money… Everything costs money and therefore everything is money. It’s not that money grows on trees, it’s that money is the single universally recognized form of energy and acknowledgement the world over. As soon as money stops being that form of acknowledgment and exchange of energy, it is not money. It’s sometimes hard to wrap your mind around that part of it– the energetic exchange– especially when many of the exchanges we make these days seem so impersonal and unsatisfying.
No one wants to wait in line to be “served” by someone who is rude and hurtful when we’re spending money we worked hard to get. And yet, despite the pleasant or unpleasant experience that happens when money is exchanged, that’s all money is: a tool of exchange. When what you must do to procure money can be terribly demeaning, frustrating, and riddled with defeatist feelings of failure and inadequacy (minimum wage jobs, ya know), money seems to be the root of evil and all negativity. However, that is misplaced emotion– it’s not the money, it’s the people or person giving it to you. You feel out of alignment with what your self-worth is, what the people paying you believe you’re worth, what you should have to do to get money, and what you actually have to do to get money. So you blame money when it’s really the people that you’re asking for money from not the money.
But here’s the thing, even though I didn’t really birth a wad of cash (t’would be interesting though…), my child did cost me $3800 out of pocket. It seems expensive though for a myriad of reasons it’s not that expensive. The point isn’t whether or not it’s expensive or cost effective or even worth it, though, the point is that I paid my dues so I could acknowledge a team of 4 midwives (1 OB and 3 midwives actually) had more direct experience and knowledge about birth than I do and to birth safely, I would appreciate their presence at my house when I reached parturition. That is the cost that they charge (the monetary acknowledgement they ask for) for their services and it’s my choice to either acknowledge that they are worth that (to me) or not worth that (to me). Some people will balk at that cost and refuse to acknowledge that any of their knowledge is worth that amount of money. Some people will instead believe it’s a bargain and happily pay that amount of money. Some people will pass no judgment but think of the emotional aspects and believe that whatever they have to pay to feel a certain way is worthwhile. Whatever the perspective, that is part of your relationship to money.
Many people speak on how it’s been a “tough” financial time with the stock market crash, “recession” and blah blah blah. I’m not denying that money can suck right now with jobs falling off the face of the planet and foreclosure rates continuing to creep up along with the margin of income to debt ratios. I do however think that most people have really shit relationships to money that they pass along down the generations regardless of recession or abundance. It’s like cancer “running in the family.” Sure, there are some (very few if any) cancers that can run in the family but a lot of these things can be helped immensely with diet and lifestyle (as if the two are really different) improvements.
Money is one of those things that people seem to think is inevitably difficult to come by. Unfortunately they pass this attitude along to their children as well. They pass along bad habits like not balancing a check book, impulsive spending, disorganization resulting in duplicate purchasing, buying multiple items for each person because no one knows how to or wants to share (or thinks it’s necessary), throwing away things that are still useable or upcyclable (that should be a word just so you know), holding on to broken things and not fixing them… People also pass along the idea that you have to work hard for the money, that you must sacrifice things you love to get the things you need, that you need things at all, that work and money are barriers to happiness, that money is a necessary evil persay… the list is very long and likely illuminating if not depressing somehow.
But see, the thing is, money isn’t a necessary evil and you can still be happy and make money. You can still be provided for well without having to commit your entire life around the clock to making money. Why can’t you have it all? The fact that there are obscenely rich people who have it all and then some should be proof enough that you can too. Yet while there seems to be a core belief that everyone can get rich, there also seems to be a contradictory belief that not everyone can be rich– like there’s a quota on large incomes. When a billion dollars seems like a reasonable pursuit these days, it doesn’t seem to make much sense why most people would resign themselves to a $40k or less income per year. You can at least aspire to make a million, no?
But there are all the things that parents do from complaining about how credit cards are maxed out, to how they’re in so much debt, how they don’t know how much money they have, how they can’t afford that , and so on. Kids pick up on these stresses and negative attitudes. They feel guilty when parents say they don’t have money and kids want to ask for something. Kids feel upset when parents spoil them with gifts but also regularly say “times are tight” or “money doesn’t grow on trees” and all those other pernicious idioms regarding an attitude of financial insecurity. Kids start to internalize the idea that their family doesn’t have enough money, that no matter how hard their family works, they can’t get enough money, that money is a source of pain and frustration and that if they didn’t have to deal with money and its troubles, things would be better. Their relationship to money becomes complicated and they don’t feel positively toward it for a myriad of reasons ranging from:
- Mom/Dad gets really stressed when there doesn’t seem to be enough money
- Mom/Dad is always working and I never get to see them because they need money
- Mom/Dad is always telling me that I don’t understand what things costs… that money doesn’t grow on trees… I must be doing something wrong that is upsetting them.
- You can’t make money without compromising happiness
- You can’t travel the world or see the world unless you make enough money.
- Vacations are for rich people.
- You have to work hard unless you want to wind up broke and homeless.
What other attitudes about money do you transmit to your family? What do you remember being transmitted to you?
As a parent of a child with a father who sometimes graces my child with his presence, I’ve watched them play store or whatever and seen first hand how these negative money attitudes get transmitted. My child’s father actually “plays” minimum wage worker. He has told my kid during playtimethat my kid “doesn’t have permission” and has to “check in with management” or that my child doesn’t have enough money to purchase the supplies, et fucking cetera. I suppose when minimum wage is your reality, you play from a place of familiarity and yet, I find great displeasure in allowing my child to think in imaginary play that they aren’t their own boss, that there’s a limit on the financial resources they can access in imaginary world to purchase imaginary goods and that they don’t have permission to be awesome. This, my friends, is where it starts and ends. If you can’t imagine it, it ain’t gonna happen.
Money, abundance, lack, and prosperity is an attitude. It’s a belief system. And it’s something that you teach your children. I’ve seen it and I experience it enough to know that unfortunately, wealth or the lack thereof is generational. To overcome that lacking, that negative relationship with money, you have to overcome your own programming (or lack thereof) concerning it.
As you can imagine, a negative relationship to money is quite destructive to pass along to someone who can literally cultivate a positive relationship with money or a negative one without any attachment or previous experiences to contaminate their views.
Money really does provide for you the securities that humans are wont to acquire to survive and more importantly to thrive. To disregard what money truly means (can mean, and does mean) or to denigrate it or downplay it as something unnecessary or negative or frustrating or stressful is to deprive yourself and your child of stability and success in essence. Money can buy security and a life that brings you and your child all the foundations of happiness you always dreamed of and hoped to receive yourself. While money is not happiness or the end all of happiness, it relieves the stress and frustration that “lacking” causes. Money can allow you to focus on the relationships and fun things instead of on getting by and paying the bills. What you do once you’ve achieved financial security is up to you.
Bad communication, negative people, abuse, and other pitfalls of relationships and the pursuit of happiness can happen at any level of wealth. Being stuck in a cycle of negativity and abuse while financially insecure leaves you little to no room to cultivate a positive relationship to life. Most people can’t break free of negative life circumstances until they come into a better financial situation. That is the point– money can be an ally if you let it. Teaching your child how money can be an ally and not an enemy is one of the most important lessons that you can teach them. As they grow older, there are many things they will have to learn and re-learn in relating to other people. And yet the one thing that will remain constant over the years is their ability to spend wisely, save their money, and cultivate a positive relationship to money in general. Their relationship to money is something that will allow them the freedom to get what they want (or think they want) and to eventually pursue their dreams and passions without fear or inhibition. Teaching your children the value of money allows them to be creative in how they acquire money from barter, DIY projects, or working on passions so they can find financial security in their life to live life.
Money doesn’t buy happiness because happiness is something intrinsic within that you must work for and maintain. A child doesn’t want to spend money to go to Disneyland because money buys happiness, they want to spend money to go to Disneyland because spending a day playing with characters from their imaginations and most happy memories with you is happiness. Money is just the passport to the highest levels of happiness they can experience. When you teach your children to relate positively to money, you gift your child another avenue by which to find their highest expression, happiness, and most radical life available. Anything less is limiting and I can’t think of a single reason to limit my child’s future.