We can sit here all day talking about 401(k)s, which checking account yields the most interest with the least amount of hoops to jump through, and what your PSR (personal savings rate) is versus the national rate.
I love these subjects.
But you know what? It’s not about any of this. It’s not about money, it’s not about wealth–who’s got it and who doesn’t. It’s not about counting. If it was, I would just get a nice 9-5 job as one of those people who counts other people’s money all day.
Money is a Tool, No More, No Less
My affinity towards money is strong. But that’s only because I realized long ago that it isn’t about the money. It’s about what money can do for you, and what living in lack can take away.
I’m simply the person who tries to avoid the latter, and accelerate the former.
Money is not icky, dirty, or taboo. It’s not where we should park our anger, frustration, or highest hopes.
Money is merely the vehicle, the tool. If rocks could get you where you wanted to go, then I’d be talking about rocks. If smiles could pave your way to a cushy retirement, then I’d tell you to do so until your ruddy cheeks rebel.
If you can detach yourself from all of your hangups about it, then you can attach yourself to all of its possibilities and realize that you, my dear, are in control here.
Deathbed Regrets Aren’t Going to be About Money
I once was a bit sore about the huge costs on my husband Paul and I to fly home several Christmases ago. Because we didn’t have the okay from his work supervisor until November, two roundtrip tickets to PA were going to be just shy of $900.
And as I often do with large costs, I sat on it. I threw it back and forth in my head. I ignored it for a day or two until the right answer (as well as the “why”) bubbled to the surface.
We needed to go.
The fact is, on my death bed, I will not lament the $900 I had to spend to get us to PA for Christmas. But you know what I might be regretful of? Not taking that 11-day trip to spend quality time with my family and friends. We would’ve missed out on: my grandmother’s cooking (specifically her stuffing…like, woah). Learning to cook family dishes alongside her as well. Spending an afternoon in Philly’s Italian Market with my little brother and husband, after having spent the morning with my friend and her lovely two daughters. Country drives showing Paul sheep, snow, and Amish kids sledding down humongous hills–the kind I used to sled down when I was little. Christmas morning at my sister’s family’s house, where we get to watch our niece and nephew tear open their Santa packages before helping ourselves to her homemade breakfast.
This stuff just doesn’t have a price.
Can you be careless with money? Absolutely not. If we were up to debt in our eyeballs and not sure where that month’s bills (or January’s) money was going to come from, then the right answer would have been to stay home.
But that wasn’t our situation.
Money Should Never Take Center Stage
Here’s one of the huge takeaways I’ve gotten from over a decade of studying money: Whenever money takes center stage, it wreaks havoc (no matter if it is center stage because of having too little of it, or from greed/too much of it).
So if you find money taking center stage in your own life’s decisions and day-to-day, take a step back, and realign yourself. Because guess what? I’ll be one of the only personal finance bloggers ever to say, it ain’t about the money, honey. It’s about so much more than that.