July 21, 2014

Wicked, Wicked Wealth

Oct20


Lately,  not a day that goes by where I don’t turn on the TV or radio and hear incredibly strong, opinionated views on wealth, debt, finances and then some.

For a geeky personal finance kind of girl like me, I am all about digging into issues, fleshing them out, and attempting to learn from situations, so that I can better apply them to my own life.

I haven’t always been that way. Since my teen years, I’ve chosen a fairly frugal lifestyle, but it hasn’t been until recently that I have really been educating myself about making my money work for me (whether it’s $10 or $10,000), the ramifications of debt, and brainstorming ways to increase my income.

I think we do ourselves a huge disservice if we let others think for us. It’s so easy to listen to those more articulate on the news, and nod our head in agreement. In fact, every once in awhile, I find myself doing that because it seems to make sense, but then I pause, reevaluate the deeper meaning and long term impact, and realize that I completely disagree with the statement that I had just been nodding my head too.

That group mentality scares me. I need to be able to understand these larger issues on my own, especially in terms of fiscal responsibility. I need to know how these issues impact my family.

One of the words I chose to dive into was the meaning of “wealth.”

I consider myself an incredibly wealthy woman when I view “wealth” in a broader life context, but I challenged myself to garner insight into the word through a financial realm.

(Now, this is NOT a political discussion. I actually have had this subject line written for two months, long before the Operation Wall Street stuff broke out, so please separate the two. ;)).

It’s interesting to look at that word in the context of the complex feelings that arise when we examine our beliefs about money. Early on in this series, I stated that Money is Amoral. It’s not intrinsically good or evil, but when we talk about wealth, it starts feeling quite personal.

I’ve had to examine my feelings on wealth from three standpoints – parenting, business woman and my spiritual beliefs. If I am “walking the talk,” my view on wealth needs to be consistent across the board.

So I asked myself a few philosophical questions.

What do I think of when I hear the world “wealth?”

Does it make me feel uncomfortable, excited, dirty, jealous? Does putting business practices in line that garner wealth line up with my world and life view? I keep hearing on the news that wealth is wrong – is it? Am I judgmental towards someone who builds a 10, 000 square foot house, or maybe 25, 000 square feet? What if someday I want to build a something like that and pay cash for every thing I own, can I then spend our money at will? Is it fine to put 75 TVs in your new condo – one in every closet, bathroom etc? Is it even my business?

I could go on and on with some interesting questions and discussions on a very taboo subject, and get riled up in the process, but for me, it truly comes down to a heart issue.

I go back to the premise that Money is Amoral, but it’s the love of money where our ideas get skewed. I want to keep my heart attitude in check. Since our family’s time of unemployment is still in the forefront of my mind, my husband and I have brainstormed, worked hard, and searched out ways to establish multiple streams of income. Having had our eggs all in one basket for too long and realizing where that can lead, we don’t want to rely on just one establishment type of job. $10 here, $10 there, $100 here and there can all start adding up to increased income.

As our family attempts to increase our income, “wealth” (whatever that is to people) needs to be a heart check for our family. Our goal is to be 100% debt free. We just have our house left to go. In paying that off, I would become wealthier than most because no one else “owns us.”(This goes for someone who has a small 600 square foot house, as well.)

My desire is to continually cultivate a life of contentment with little, which then opens the door to fully living a life of gratitude if we have much.

So, what about you? Do you have to ask yourself some hard questions as well?

 


Comments

  1. I agree with you that we have to think for ourselves and make our own decisions when it comes to our finances, and that can be scary. I have been thinking more about that in my own life when it comes to retirement planning & my 401K (as I’ve watched it decrease in value). There’s just a lot to think about when it comes to finances!

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  2. Jodi from New Jersey says:

    Money or wealth, like it or not , means freedom and choices to me. My values are up to me. Opportunity is out there for all of us as Americans—the world owes me nothing!

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    Jen Reply:

    :)

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  3. I make a distinction between earning an honest wage for honest work and wealth that is generated at the expense of others or the environment. I would be spiritually impoverished if I crossed that line.

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    Mary S. Reply:

    @Mary, I agree with this. I try not to judge other people’s money choices as long as those choices aren’t hurting anyone. If a person has the money and wants to buy 75 TVs I think that is absolutely his or her right. But, if that person came by that money by bending the law or taking advantage of other people then I don’t think it should really be their’s to begin with. I think the people who have come by money dishonestly make for a better news story so they are the ones we hear about more often but there are plenty of people with monetary wealth who earned it responsibly and use it responsibly.

    Monetary wealth can be an amazing, liberating thing and a certain degree of it is a goal of mine but I want to make sure I do it in the most responsible way possible. To reference what Jodi said above the world does not owe me anything but I feel like I owe the world something. As citizens we all owe the world our best effort to be moral, honest, upstanding and fair. I think if everyone remembered those values and promised to work hard we wouldn’t have nearly as many problems. Wealth itself doesn’t cause a problem like you said, it is a person’s heart and attitude that can be an issue.

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  4. Sue@housepretty says:

    My husband and I are working through the Dave Ramsey plan. Becoming debt free equals freedom to me. I’m continuously trying to “think outside the box”, and it is becoming a very fun “game”, I must say! “Owe no man anything but love”, sounds pretty “lovely” to me!

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  5. This really hit home. After my husband’s period of unemployment, I find now that even though he has a good job and I work, I’ve completely lost that feeling of security. I never really thought in terms of the “multiple streams of income” but wow, that sent off fireworks in my head. It makes so much more sense. And embarrassingly enough, it’s how I was raised as well, with my parents farming. I don’t know why I hadn’t made the connection before. They always had different projects in order to make sure if one crop or set of animals didn’t do so well, something else would make up the difference.

    Thanks for doing these 31 days, Jen. :)

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  6. Great post, Jen. As debt-free graduate of Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, my hubbie and I grappled with what “wealth” meant. Now that we are facilitators, we do what we can to help folks work through that. One thing that I have heard from folks is that they are afraid or concerned about really getting their finances in order, because it may mean that they will accumulate wealth, and that would be bad (according to them).

    Something that we continually point out is that it is NOT the money that is the issue, it is our attitude towards it. It is a tool, like a shovel, a mixer, or a computer-nothing more. Having this tool doesn’t change ME, it changes what is possible for me to accomplish. With that money I keep my 4 walls secure, I help the needy, I save for the future, I spend on myself, family and friends.

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  7. We’re another Ramsey fan – and now debt-free. We’ve made our choices and are willing to take responsibility for them. We are in the very spot we stand because of every choice we’ve made up to this point. We are wealthy, not because of money in the bank, but because of our choices. One choice was for me to retire from the employed community. Yes, I still work; I just don’t earn money. I earn the benefits of knowing that my kids are being taught the morals and values of our faith (I homeschool). I have the benefit of my mother being cared for in our home with her familiy, rather than in a nursing home. Yes, sometimes it’s tough without the second income, but I don’t hold that against others who have much more money than us.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have more money! I just cannot afford to spare the hours at this time.

    Money can buy a house, but not a home; money can buy hospitals and physicians, but not health; money can buy a companion, but not a friend; money can buy happiness, but not peace.

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    Jen Reply:

    Amen – such wise, wise words. We will never regret those choices…EVER!

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    Kim Reply:

    @Joan, Well said. Being debt-free throws open the doors of opportunity so wide!

    That is great that you are able to homeschool. I know so many parents who lament not being able to stay at home, but I also see many of them unwilling to make the sacrifice necessary to do so, ie saying no to many of the things they spend their money on. We all make choices and have to live with them. As Ramsey says, if you want to see someone’s priorities, just look at their checkbook.

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