I believe the single biggest hurdle to accumulating wealth is a person’s values related to money. I also believe money values are an indicator of a person’s level of comfort and happiness with money. In other words, it’s very hard to make, manage and enjoy money, if someone has personal values that conflict with the reality of wealth.
Something for Nothing (“They owe it to me.”)
There are millions of people who believe the world owes them a living. And, it is ruining their lives every day. I’m not talking about people who are desperate and need a helping hand. I’m talking about people who have an attitude that they are due something and they spend their lives trying to collect.
I have a friend who is a master at working the system. He used to get a free lunch by claiming they messed up his order at fast food restaurants. And, he would leave me on job sites to work by myself, while he drove the truck around. He once got a great job with the city, but he soon suffered a mysterious back injury and went out on disability. That was about 20 years ago and he still doesn’t work.
My friend now lives in an old trailer out in the desert, because he can afford to live there on disability. And, he is mostly alone, because everyone else is busy working and raising their families. He rides around in a Rascal because he is too obese to walk. Who has he really outsmarted?
It’s easy to get something for nothing, but it will cost your integrity.
Blue Collar Ideals (“I work hard for money.”)
My dad was an Engineer and he wore a white shirt and a tie to work. I also wore white shirts and ties, before the new corporate uniform became Dockers and golf shirts. But, I have strong blue collar values passed on to me by my parents. And, I was proud of those values, even though they seem outdated now. There are few things more rewarding to me than a job well done. But, I realized early in my life that it’s hard to make a living on laborer’s wages.
There was a time in America when hard work and loyalty was enough to ensure a long and prosperous career. But, those times have long since passed. The new corporate reality is that everyone is a free-agent and jobs rarely last an entire career. Companies are more concerned with headcount and the bottom line than with the welfare of employees and their families.
The lesson I learned was to never place false limits on my pay. I honestly believed I only deserved a certain level of income and I later found out I was worth a lot more. It was a huge mistake that cost me tens of thousands of dollars and kept my family living in poverty. Within one year of realizing I was underpaid by 40%, I was making it. My income has climbed steadily since.
Income is based on the value you produce, not on how hard you work.
Money is Bad (“It’s the root of all evil.”)
I went to Catholic school and I was taught the love of money was the root of all evil. I was also told it was harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. At the time, I accepted these teachings and I never questioned them. Now that I’m a little bit wiser, I know religious organizations are some of the richest entities on the planet. If it’s not a sin for the church to be wealthy, why is it a sin for us?
Money is inanimate and it has no properties of good or evil. People are good or evil and the size of their bank account has no direct correlation to their conscience. The temptation of a rich man to cheat others to become richer is no different from the temptation of a poor man to steal a TV. It’s the choice of good or evil that matters, not the amount of money involved.
Do you believe having more money could make you better person? Do you think it would be wrong to have more money than you deserve? Do you think you could find a purpose for the extra money that would help others? There is no right answer for everyone. There is only the obvious fact that money doesn’t make the person.
Most of the taxes and charitable donations come from the wealthy.
Most of the criminal activity is perpetrated by the impoverished.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that personal values shape behavior, whether someone is aware of this or not. The best way to enjoy a happy and prosperous life is to make sure your money values are aligned with your financial goals.
“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”