It’s Only Money.

dollarbillNever in my lifetime has there been so much universal fear surrounding the economy.  My heart breaks for every single person out there who has lost a job (including my husband) and possibly a home due to the economic upheaval around us.  The uneasiness we all feel and the questions we have about the future are very real.

That said, I have found it very interesting to watch different kinds of personalities in various financial circumstances react to the volatile market.   I have one friend whose countenance from day to day is almost entirely reflective of what the stock market happens to be doing at that time… when it’s down, he is irritable, cantankerous and gloomy, and when it’s up, he’s downright giddy.  This young professional has been a good steward of his resources. He isn’t going to go hungry anytime soon. Yet he is consumed with fear.

I’ve got another friend who stayed loyal to his company after not being paid for months only to learn that his company is dissolving and he is left without severance, without a job, and with hardly any savings left after using it up during the months he wasn’t paid.  He is the single parent of three kids and has a lot of reasons to be stressed.  Yet he speaks with more hope than the guy whose emotional roller coaster is determined by whether he is “rich” or “richer.”

One friend of mine is the owner of a business that was destroyed by a natural disaster last year.   The company lost an inordinate amount of money, not to mention future revenue, because there was no flood insurance.  Yet his main concern was for all the good people who had served his company.  He was very quiet about how he took care of those people, but I happen to know that he is even more loved and respected today than he was before that flood.

I’ve read dozens of statistics about money being the number one subject couples fight about. It breaks my heart to think that money would actually be the proverbial “straw the broke the camel’s back”  in countless failed marriages, but the statistics support that very possibility.

Regardless of where you find yourself today financially,  remember this:  it’s only money!  It’s paper.  It doesn’t give you value.  It doesn’t make you matter more.  It definitely does not earn you the kind of friends you want and need.  It doesn’t fill any spiritual or emotional void. It doesn’t make you a better parent or spouse. It doesn’t buy contentment. In fact, it constantly creates battles with contentment.

Story after story, my own included, reveals that money (or the lack thereof) does not determine who we are.  It does not make us better or worse than anyone else.  Money does not have the power to decide whether we are kind and fair, it doesn’t guarantee us happiness or peace, and it simply cannot be trusted to offer us true security.  Lack of it certainly can create stress, but so can the abundance of it.

Trust me, I am dedicated to the principles of wise money management, debt freedom and conservation.  I’m just saying, maybe it is time to reassess just how insignificant dollars are when weighed against truly eternal things.

I just thought this might be a good time to remind you that human life is worth more than a gazillion dollars.  You are a brilliant, beautiful work of creation.  And money… well… it’s only money.

7 thoughts on “It’s Only Money.

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  1. Being given an early retirement package in February when my company downsized has opened the door for discussions with many other out-of-work people. And with so many variables, it seems everyone’s situation is unique.

    Some are financially stable; others need another job yesterday. Some are grieving for a job they loved; others feel somewhat relieved to be free of a job they hated. Some families had two incomes; others were the sole earners. Some families are only a couple; others still have children at home.

    I agree that money doesn’t define us, isn’t the be-all and end-all, and may be insignificant in this brief moment in time compared to all eternity, but it can’t be denied that life is easier with money than without.

    And let’s face it… for those who are struggling to put food on the table, money, or the lack of it, is no doubt first and foremost in their minds right now.

    Hope all that didn’t come across as too “preachy”. This is quite a difficult topic to discuss sometimes and still remain impersonal.

    On a positive note though, I love your new theme. Looks very bright and springy.

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  2. Thanks for your candid feedback. I know very well the feeling of desperation that comes with struggling for the basic necessities. There is a weariness of the soul that comes with financial stress that isn’t quite like any other stress. Money can help a lot of things.

    That is exactly why I wanted to also put into perspective the seldom-remembered fact that money is only so powerful. (Maybe I didn’t say it very well.) I just think we might be surprised at the things money doesn’t fix. Maybe the change we want to see in our finances could begin with an internal inventory of our personal value separately from our financial situation. Then if/when our situation changes – for better or worse – our sense of worth, our marital happiness and/or our faith isn’t tied into our bank account.

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  3. You make a great point. It reminds me of the movie Life is Beautiful where a few people could choose happiness even amidst the horrors of concentration camps. While our circumstances certainly affect us, we cannot let them define us.
    I wrote some articles recently about how the economy affects marriages and tips to help couples at my blog.
    http://www.lorilowe.wordpress.com
    See you on SI.
    Lori Lowe

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  4. Emily, thanks for sharing. Have you read the book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”? It is definitely empowering, and worth your time. It might bring new insight about how and why individuals finances are what they are. We are hosting an event on May 21st based on that book. I hope you will check it out.

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  5. Emily,

    Very well put. Michael and I have certainly taken a lashing in this economy. As someone once said, “you can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” We have adjusted and adjusted and keep adjusting as necessary. Some days we’re more hopeful than others but we mostly manage to stay out of the doldrums. The thing that bothers me the most is we can’t give to or assist our kids in achieving their dreams as much as we’d like. Deep down I know that this will only make them stronger and their greatest dependance needn’t be on us anyway. Hopefully it will draw them closer to the only unfailing helper, Jesus. Many years ago, when Michael and I were MUCH younger we faced a serious financial calmity that was the result us not understanding the IRS and the IRS not understanding the nature of our business. (Fortunately we came to a mutual understanding and disaster was averted.) During the most stressful of times a friend said to me, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? They can take your stuff. They can’t take your kids, and they certainly can’t eat you.” I laughed when she said it, but it’s true.

    If the worst comes, they might drag you kicking and screaming out of your home, but they cannot pull you from the arms of Jesus. So really, what else matters?

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  6. Emily,

    Well said! I retired 2 1/2 years ago thinking that with Iras, pension and SS I could and would have an easy street retirement. Well, investments started getting whacked and then for some strange reason (will is still unclear) two months of SS checks were not received! Talk about panic time!

    I had heretofore been use to buying whatever I wished at whatever price! Check time was on now! Never could I be bothered to check out those clearance racks (you know the ones that are always “messy” with sizes interspersed everywhere); I further didn’t make any great attempts at getting to a shop when it was sale day; and heaven forbid if I should ever clip a coupon! But this turn in the economy brought me to reality and quickly!

    The old saying “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” became reality. Thank God it did! I have never been happier and certainly do appreciate that the size of my accounts do not enter into the measure of my happiness. I am wealthy with friends and the love of God. I don’t know if I could ever have understood that before as I do now.

    As previously stated by someone, for the person about to lose their home, who has not the money for food and wonders how to pay their utilities – the state of the economy has to loom huge. My prayers are with all those hurting financially.

    But for me, the state of the economy has opened my eyes and made me so extremely grateful for the many blessings God has bestowed upon me. I don’t think I would have been quite as cognizant if my “retirement” monies had not been messed with at this time.

    I love your “head” and the way you express what is in that head.

    Max

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