I’ve been thinking a lot about young people, money, and how to get the two in the same room. Yah, I know, you’d love nothing more than to have someone throw a ton of money at you, but that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about how to get young’uns to think about money in the right way.
For years and years, I’ve been telling people that money is a medium of exchange. It’s what stops us from having to put the goat over our shoulder and the knife in our belt when we head off to market to buy a new pair of shoes.
And I’ve been telling people that money doesn’t know from “feelings.” But, ya know what, I’ve been wrong. Not wrong about money and feelings, just wrong about how people should see money and feelings.
We can’t help it if we start to salivate at the sight of a snappy new car. Well, some of us can’t. And if it isn’t a new car that sets our juices a’runnin’, it’ll be a fabulous new purse, the latest electronic toy, or the sight of that longed-for WHAT-EV-ER that has us swooning.
Money, it turns out, is probably the single most powerful human creation on the earth. We think it’s guns. It’s not. We think it’s the computer. It’s not that either. It’s money. We’ll lie for money. We’ll steal for it. We’ll sleep with strangers for it. We’ll even kill for it. The things we’ll do for money are so strange, so perverse, that when we see ourselves do those things, we blame the devil, society, or even our parents!
So, what is it about money that makes it so powerful? And how much power will you allow money to have over you?
You know the joke about the guy who walks up to the girl and says, “I’ll give you a million dollars to sleep with me.” She’s shocked at first. But a million bucks is a million bucks. She smiles.
“How about if I give you $100?” he says.
“What do you think I am?” she says, appalled at his suggestion.
“We’ve already determined that,” he says, “now we’re just haggling over price.”
You see, money – enough money – seems to justify behaviour we wouldn’t otherwise even consider. Why?
What is it about those pieces of paper, those coins, that would have us betray our friends, turn our backs on our families, heave a stone into some sod’s head? Why will we lie to our parents, our friends, our partners about how much we spent?
If you have $10 and your friend has no money for lunch, and he asks to borrow $5, would you say, “Sure.” Or would you say, “Hey man, I’m broke.” What about if this guy has hit you up for money before and never pays it back?
You have money and he is hungry.
Would you tell him the truth: “Dude, I’d give you my money, but I know you won’t give it back and I might need it later.”
Hardly anyone ever does. Why is that?
How about if you were the first person in your family, in your whole frickin’ family, to actually know what you’d be prepared to do for money, and what you wouldn’t. I’m not talking about that blah, blah, blah, everyone pipes up with so readily. I mean deep down KNOW what money means to you and how YOU can use it, instead of being pulled in all directions by The Power of Money.
Money isn’t bad. It isn’t evil. It isn’t ugly. But some of us do behave rather badly when the dollar signs start turning over in our eyes. It can bring out evil around us. And it has the power to turn what is beautiful into something ugly.
You can ignore it and just stumble along like all the people who have gone before you and seriously screwed up their lives, or you can finally figure it out. Or you can know what you really, really want. You can reign in this most powerful invention, and like a cascading waterfall, harness it to make the power work for you. Your choice. You decide.