Why do you care about money? Is this even a question worth pondering? Should we even care about money in the first place? And how much should we value money? Perhaps these are odd questions to come from a personal finance blog. After all, money is so important that I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of words talking about money. But why?
Overvaluing Money is Common. And Dangerous
Most of us will spend a large portion of our lives earning money. A typical worker will spend thousands of hours each year working for money. Money is also the leading cause of stress in a relationship. And so important to us that over half of Americans lose sleep over it. Additionally, there are countless songs and sayings revolving around money, including “money makes the world go round” and “I wanna be a millionaire.” So obviously money is important to people. And perhaps the facts demonstrate that we are over-valuing money.
Instead of chasing money for the sake of chasing money and worrying about money simply because it’s money, perhaps we need to take a step back and ask the why questions. Scratch below the surface. What benefit does money bring?
Of course, most of us value having our basic needs comfortably met. It’s nice to know where our next meal is coming from. It’s comforting to know that we’ll have a roof over our heads. And after our basic needs are covered, most of us truly do value some additional frills that money buys- perhaps a family vacation now and again, or going out from time to time with friends or a date. And there are a slew of products that arguably do improve quality of life.
But when we cross the line into the trap of rat-race consumerism, greed and idolizing money, it starts consuming us. When we stop valuing money because of the needs it fulfills and start pursuing it for its own sake, it takes over control of our life.
Undervaluing Money is Just as Common, and Also Dangerous
On the flip side, many of us undervalue money. For example, only one third of Americans even attempt to budget? Why do so few of us have enough money to cover basic emergencies? And at a time when housing values are at an all time high, over ten percent of Americans have a negative net worth!
Undervaluing money can cause just as much stress as overvaluing money. When you don’t have enough to cover basic emergencies, a small car repair or medical bill is going to cause stomach ulcers. When you go through every month with no budget, you’re liable to end up at the end of some months with no money left for the end of month bills, making you vulnerable to debt cycles or bill defaulting. This can pile up into a financial monster that can plague you for life (which is why I think it’s worth it to write thousands of words about money).
You Can Simultaneously Undervalue and Overvalue Money
Oddly, you can both undervalue and overvalue money at the same time. You can be trapped in the rat-race of consumerism, raking up credit card debt, and yet still not have an emergency fund to cover real needs. You might spend 80 hours a week pursuing a six (or seven) digit salary and still live paycheck to paycheck because you don’t have a budget and end up spending thousands each week.
Develop a Healthy Money Perspective
The bottom line is it’s so important to put money in perspective. Recognize what you need money for, and what you truly want money for. These likely include home, food, emergency fund, transportation, retirement savings etc. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with some non-essentials too. But don’t waste your life pursuing things that you don’t truly value. And don’t allow money and greed to control you and consume your life.
Some links pay our bills. Our thoughts and opinions remain 100% objective. Find out more.
- While I do strive to only write accurate information and dispense valuable advice, I am not a licensed financial adviser. All information is based solely on my personal experience and personal research and should be treated as such. Find out more.