I enjoyed a couple of articles in recent days about the importance of money in our lives. The first one (seen here) discussed how more money can indeed make you happier (contrary to the popular opinion that more money doesn’t necessarily correlate to more happiness). The other article asked an important question – what’s important about money to you?
Of course these things interest me because I get to play the role of a money expert on the internet (little do you know! Bwahahaha!). And I found this section from the NY Times article particularly pertinent:
The purpose of this question isn’t to think in terms of goals. It’s meant to go deeper than that, or to get at the reason why we have certain goals. The first answers people come up with are usually easy — things like security and freedom. But once we pause and really think, we can move even deeper still, or into what might be called the “why” of money. This question gets uncomfortable because it forces us to get really clear about our underlying reason for doing things. It also forces us to face some inconsistencies in our lives.
Let’s say the first thing you come up with when you ask yourself the question — what’s important about money — is indeed freedom or security. Then, the next question you should ask yourself is, “What’s so important to me about freedom and security?’” From there, keep asking questions until you get to until you get to the thing that is most important to you.
Here’s how it works.
My friend, who we’ll call Sara, was a hard-charging professional whose career required her to be super competitive. She was “type A” to the hilt and worked long hours. So when I talked to Sara and her husband and asked her this question, I was curious what she would say was most important. She said freedom.
When I asked her what freedom meant, she replied, “More time.”
So I said, “Okay, let’s pretend you’re there. Let’s say you have more time. What’s so important about being at that spot?”
With some emotion she said, “I just want the time to raise a child.”
Time, huh? When you read my paper on the monetary system you’ll see a recurring theme in there – the importance of time. After all, aren’t we all ultimately racing against a clock? The Monetary Realism law states:
“We generate improving living standards through the efficient use of resources resulting in the optimization of time”
That’s a pretty broad statement, but it’s one that should resonate with you when you understand what money really is. Money is just a means to an end. Yes, having more money can (some times) mean more time. But it can also (at times) mean more responsibility, more hardship and less time. It depends on the specifics of course. But the overarching message shouldn’t be lost in all of this. I’d argue that it’s in the achievement and pursuit of something greater than money that we ultimately measure ourselves. Money is simply the tool with which we try to achieve some end. It is not in and of itself the end. And that’s the real lesson here.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.