What Money Is & What Money Is Not

Certain things now hold different meaning and significance for me compared to some years ago.

While in college, a promise of free pizza could tempt me to attend even the most tedious of extracurricular club meetings. Nowadays, my precious evening hours with family are not so easily traded away.

The weight money carries has also changed for me.

As a teenager, having money in my pocket just meant I could go to Dairy Queen before the home soccer game or rent a movie that weekend at Family Video – perhaps it meant a little freedom.

Now, money is what feeds my children and pays our mortgage – security, I suppose.

We don’t all define money the same way. However, if I generalize, I think I can state what money is and what money is not. What money is to you at a certain time in your life changes over time.

 

What money is:

1. Money IS a Resource – Money IS NOT power.

There are resources on this earth… trees, oil, precious metals… they can be used to build, propel, or create. Left untouched, they will never be transformed into a home or be used to fuel a jet across the country. They will remain just as they are. Similarly, a hammer does not build anything if it is never swung. It must be wielded by someone with a plan.

You can have millions of dollars and not carry any real power or leave any real legacy if you do not apply purposeful action.

2. Money IS Security – Money IS NOT a solution to your worries.

Money truly can bring so much peace of mind. When your spouse is sick, your car breaks down, you lose your job… all of these things are MUCH less scary when you have money in the bank to handle it.  A healthy savings account absolutely brings security.

Yet, somehow, I have seen even the wealthiest of individuals be consumed with worry. Worry about the stock market, their families, the elections… money alone never seems to be the resolution. The most common trait I see in individuals who live without the burden of persistent worry is gratitude.

3. Money IS Freedom – Money IS NOT purpose.

Like I said before with my trips to Dairy Queen as a teenager, money really is freedom. You have far greater ability to travel, buy a pretty bag, give to whomever, get the degree you really want. However, a pile of money in an investment account does not give you desire, passion, or purpose. It does not give you the drive to do any of those things.  

It pains me to watch individuals with great financial wealth wander through life with no sense of excitement. They aren’t excited to wake up and plan their next trip. They aren’t thrilled to see how their latest donation changed lives. They aren’t eager to dig into their next project. They – along with their millions – just exist. Money allows you the opportunity to act freely… but you must indeed still decide to act.

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I’m not sure if there is an “actionable takeaway” from this blog – at least not ones that can be drawn in straight lines. What I can suggest as takeaways are:

  • Create goals. Use your money to achieve those goals. Aren’t sure where to start? I have a worksheet. I want you to quite literally print it and fill it out by hand.
  • Educate yourself. Having deep knowledge of a topic makes you more comfortable with it. Talk with your advisor for as long as it takes to get a better understanding of your finances, your investments, and what it will take to meet your long-term goals. Knowledge is the first ingredient to peace of mind.
  • Understand your values. Live your life aligned with those values. The excitement will come naturally. Try a Refocus on Retirement Workshops™️ to help you figure out what exactly your values are and how to live them out.