[wealth week] the spirituality/money conflict, part 1

Is abundance a “must” for you?

Yesterday we talked about the difference between “shoulds” and “musts.” Unfortunately, a lot of us nowadays “should all over ourselves.” How many times do you hear things like this in everyday situations?

workout

via homeworkoutexercises.com

  • I really should start working out more, but I just don’t have time.
  • I really shouldn’t eat that, but I just can’t turn down a good burger.
  • I should be saving, but those shoes are SO cute.
  • I should really get to the meeting on time, but I have so much to do before I leave.

When we “should” over ourselves, it’s often a precursor to our excuse(s) as to why we aren’t doing whatever it is we should be doing.

Right?!

In contrast, I find that we very rarely see people saying, “I shouldn’t watch one more episode before bed” and turning off the tube as soon as they say it. It’s uncommon to witness a person earnestly saying “I should” or “I should not” and then following through with a congruent action. If you’re one of these people, congratulations, you know what verbal integrity is! (I’m being serious, despite how sarcastic that may have come off. I really respect people who do what they say and say what they do.)

All this said, rather than thinking we “should” save money or invest or use T. Harv Eker’s jar system for money management, changing that should to a must is, well, a must.

But this is where things get hairy. We as a people tend to have some pretty mixed feelings about whether money is a good or a bad thing. When we have conflicting feelings about anything, the results tend to be pretty conflicting, too.

Shakespeare

from cmoh.blogspot.com

So first . . . I want to dispel the myth that wanting plenty of money is unspiritual. A lot of people associate spirituality with the swearing off of all material goods. To me, this makes zero sense, and I’m going to be a literary nerd here and allude to Shakespeare.

In his play King Lear, one of the quotes that always stood out to me as truth is this one:

 

 

O, reason not the need! Our basest beggars

Are in the poorest thing superfluous.

Allow not nature more than nature needs,

Man’s life’s as cheap as beast’s . . .

What this means is “humans would be no different from animals if they did not need more than the fundamental necessities of life to be happy” (as explained by SparkNotes — yes yes, I know. I may be out of high school, but I still think it’s a legitimate source of literary analysis).

But isn’t it true? We humans appreciate so many things beyond just feeding ourselves and seeking shelter. We celebrate art, whether it be in film, on canvas, or (thankfully) in the written word. No critter I know has ever reaped as much joy out of a good novel than I have, and I’ve been caught admitting that if I ever had to choose between a bed and a bookshelf, I might have to think about it. (No joke.)

Beyond life’s little pleasures, who draws the line between what’s “enough” and what’s “too much”? Why is the pauper who only has a bed and one blanket more noble than the person with a canopy and four decorative pillows? And isn’t there always worse? For every person who only has X, Y, and Z, there are people who only have X and Y, and perhaps someone with only Z. Who gets to say who’s more spiritual than another simply based on material possessions?

Not to mention, when your financial situation provides you enough to not have to worry, it creates this wonderful situation — one in which you can easily take care of your loved ones, give to the causes you believe in, and create that which you’re most passionate about. (I have more to say about this, but that is reserved for tomorrow.)

I think the problem lies in the bad examples of the wealthy that are out there. People mistakenly believe that the more money you have, the worse a person you must be — but that’s simply not true!

Money only gives you the ability to be more of whatever you already are (this is an MMI principle). There are douchebags and shining stars in every income bracket, and the greedy people who made it to the top have only created the option to be greedy on a larger scale.

That said, do I agree with most of the things the leaders who earn top dollar in corrupt industries do? No! But the reason we need to raise money to match their financial power in order to right their wrongs is because the less money we have, the less options we also have.

Let me repeat that. Money gives you options.

I’m not one to claim that wearing designer clothes or driving sports cars is the best way to spend your millions — not at all. But if you’re honoring yourself and your finances by splitting up your assets into the six categories in the jar system (financial freedom, long-term savings, education, necessities, play, and give), you’ll see that there’s nothing immoral about splurging on things you simply enjoy.

jars

from crateandbarrel.com

For example, for me, before I got my serious DSLR camera, I always felt like my photos fell short. I had the good eye for decent photographs, but the effect I always wanted was something my simple point-and-shoots couldn’t provide. I even invested in a small camera that was very good, and had far more options in terms of manual settings that exceeded most point-and-shoots, but ultimately, my demand for photos with an aperture setting won out.

So a year ago, I got my first DSLR, and I’ve never been happier taking pictures. Since I feel writing (blogging, for me) comes hand-in-hand with photography, it was an investment in my freelance work as well as an outlet for creative expression. Now that I’m the blogger for Argentina Leyva Portrait Studio, further expanding my photography repertoire may certainly be part of my job description one day.

In short, what may be considered a “luxury” item to one person (e.g., someone who knows nothing about photography) may be a very good investment to another. My boss Argentina certainly looks at her pieces of professional equipment in a different way than I do my own.

I also own a Mac. There is pretty much no one out there who can convince me to not have a Mac, no matter how many people grumble about a supposedly high price tag. To me, my Mac offers me value no other computer does.

Herein lies the rub! Money is simply an expression of value — it is what we trade for services and products that we alone can’t (or won’t) produce ourselves.

Picasso

via www.richhainesgalleries.com

Consider the Picasso parable (I don’t remember from where in my studies of wealth I came across this, but I know I’m not imagining it, as I found this article online.

It seems a woman came up to Picasso and asked him to sketch something on a piece of paper.

He sketched it, and gave it back to her saying: “That will cost you $10,000.″

She was astounded. “You took just five minutes to do the sketch,” she said. “Isn’t $10,000 a lot for five minutes work?”

“The sketch may have taken me five minutes, but the learning took me 30 years,” Picasso replied.

The thing is, while every business does mark up its services and/or products, these things have cost the business owner (or whoever created them) countless hours of education, practice, and practical experience to get them where they are. Money is simply an expression of that energy, the efforts put in to create something salable, rather than just an arbitrary figure someone thought up to “rip you off.”

I recently had an experience very similar to this. While I was with my business team down at our Premier Designs headquarters, we visited manufacturing. Seeing all the manpower involved in creating molds, electroplating, and manually setting gemstones into the jewelry gave me such a newfound respect for the end product. To the consumer, this may just be a simple bangle or ring, but it was the result of how many workers putting in how many hours to create? Not to mention the electricity or whatever else it takes to run a huge brick-and-mortar establishment or the cost of materials and semiprecious metals! (Let’s not forget, either, the creativity of the design team or what their educations cost them in time and money.)

I’ve learned to never question too hard why something costs what it does. (Exceptions to this include things like selling Dasani water bottles at a tourist attraction for $10.) Sometimes, I’ll ask, “Why does this item carry the price tag it does?” and more often than not, I find out that oh, there’s silver in the threads in the material of this shirt, or hey, it took five years to produce this by hand . . . or whatever the case may be. Jumping to conclusions and just saying, “That’s too expensive” is just a lazy way of saying, “That’s out of my budget for this widget, and I’m choosing to direct my funds elsewhere.”

That said, I do understand that sometimes you don’t feel the need to invest in a gym top with silver embedded in it — and that’s fine. If your needs require a run-of-the-mill, off-the-rack cotton T-shirt, then it is your prerogative to write off the value in that silver-threaded top!

Value is relative to the consumer. For me, I’d rather spend the money on a Mac and everything being a Mac owner entails. I recognize and appreciate the service I get at Apple, and I utilize the crap out of Apple-exclusive programs. Macs hold a lot of value for me. And the beauty of a capitalistic market is that there’s usually something for everybody, and if there isn’t, well, no one’s stopping you from creating it yourself and profiting from it!

Returning to the $10 Dasani water, don’t you think your perspective might change if you were stranded on a desert, desperate for hydration? Heck, you might even throw thousands at that bottle of H2O! Value is relative. If you don’t see value in something, no one’s forcing you to buy it.

Just don’t stick your nose up at someone who’s asking you for more money than you think it’s worth. They’re in business for a reason, and if making money is that reason, you can’t fault ’em for that.

This post has gone on far longer than I anticipated . . . so I’ll have to conclude it tomorrow in part two. I hope some of this gave you food for thought! I leave you tonight with this video of one of my favorite business mentors, Marie Forleo:

Until tomorrow,

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