Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Money is NOT the root of evil.

As I get older (29 this year), I am increasingly aware of the importance of not only managing your finances but the absolute need to make investments to *cringe at cliché* - "grow your money".

I always thought naively that it was enough to live day-by-day and relatively debt-free besides regular monthly expenses. You could do what you wanted whenever you felt like, owing nothing to anyone and being responsible solely for yourself - without dragging anybody else down. This philosophy stems from a severe aversion to debt (the origin of which is unknown) and the ratifying notion that money is the root cause of the world's problems. I did however acknowledge that money is a necessity in life. Therefore one should at least have their day-to-day money matters in order.

In today's world this simple financial strategy can get you by most days but it doesn't leave many options when an unexpected life event consumes your Plan B savings (assuming you even have this safety net). To receive a decent salary in this day and age as a contractor or employee, specialized skills, specific potential and higher education are all required. What happens when a person loses their job after investing years into a career? Or when health problems prevent continuation in their current line of work? What happens when your business slows to a halt during a recession and you have no skills or knowledge in anything else?

This could happen to anybody at any stage in their life. Either way you are pretty much screwed. The old (younger) me would've thought it too cautious to live life based on careful preparation for the worst. I would've said that money breeds fear and fear binds us because money is evil*. The current me thinks those are only half truths - just one side of the coin. The real seat of evil is ignorance and laziness. In this fertile ground, all sorts of evil will thrive.

* putting things in terms of good and evil help me to make sense of the world

Money is definitely a necessity in life. To dream and work hard for more in life is natural. To use our God-given intelligence to devise better & smarter ways to attain these goals is "efficient". To attain perfection as close to perfection can be in this life, where we have everything provided for without causing harm to others and the only thing we could worry about is death - none of that is wrong. Current me thinks that it is perfectly okay to want these things. It is also okay not to want them but in order to be stable, independent and perhaps be in a position to aid others– that day-by-day mentality just isn't enough.

I really owe my new found way of thinking to my fiancée who has had a much tougher life than me. Being a natural entrepreneur, he was forced at a young age by circumstance to manage his personal finances well or else forsake his entire future. Commendably, he chose NOT to be ignorant and throughout his life he witnessed other people's "rise and fall". In knowing him I have also met a few people who due to sickness, divorce, starting a family combined with current or previous financial mismanagement ended up losing most of what they worked for in life.

I mean I should've learned that taking care of your money is important simply from observing my own parents since their divorce. I knew it on an intellectual level but emotionally I rejected it. Somehow yesterday while taking the bus to work, it really hit me.

I am making a serious vow here to learn more about actively managing my finances so it will grow instead of diminish slowly, in the hopes that one day that money will either help me 1) retire, 2) send my kids to college or 3) help a familly member or friend in dire need.