What do you need money for?

What do you need money for?

We are know that we need money. There is no debate about that. Some may try to convince themselves that money is not important. There are others who think money is evil and people who have lots of money must have done something bad or cut corners. Our feelings and beliefs about money does not change the fact that we need money. Money is just money, it can be used for good or evil. You can make it your master or your servant. It is your choice.

One question we hardly ask ourselves is what we need money for. We simply assume it goes without saying. Hardly do we sit down to clearly articulate what we need money for, so long as our immediate needs are being met. We spend money the way we see our parents and colleagues spend money. We have a list of needs which we apply cash available as far as it can go. Wherever it stops, we continue from there the next time money comes in. Some people are carrying a pile of consumer debts. They have spent money they are yet to make. So apart from their survival needs, money takes on a new meaning – to settle their debts.

Wish list

There is one interesting thing that happens to me anytime I do mental budgeting. I would be expecting a certain sum of money, and I have a shopping list awaiting its arrival. In my head, the expected amount is enough to cover the items on the list, and maybe some extras. I start to feel rich suddenly. As the money finally gets credited to my account, the moment of truth arrives. As I start spending, it dawns on me I am not as rich as I thought. The money gets exhausted about half way down the list. After falling into that trap several times, I had to make friends with my Excel spreadsheet where I plug in the figures which bursts my bubble before the money arrives. Since the money is not enough, I am forced to prioritize based on what matters most with respect to my key goals.

The more money we get, the longer our wish list. If we are not careful, we get trapped in a vicious, earning to spend cycle. We may keep spending without asking ourselves why. Without a plan, purpose, mission, vision, we can keep going without a clue where we are heading. Money comes and goes and we have no clue where.

Where are you going?

What we do with the money we have depends on where we are going rather than how much money we have available. One of the common excuses I come across when I speak to people, is not having enough money. Enough is what you say it is. It is in the mind.

You always have enough to move you from where you are today towards where you want to be tomorrow. You have to be grateful for what you have today, making good use of it to propel you towards your destination. If you are a good steward of the little you have, more will come your way. There is no excuse for doing nothing with what you have today.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step according to a Chinese proverb. That journey is completed if you take a series of consistent steps till the finish line is crossed. The length of the steps is not an issue. Consistent baby steps beats sporadic giant steps over time. Slow and steady wins the race. We seem to discount what we can do today, but it adds up over weeks, months and years.

When you don’t know what you really need the money for, you will keep spending and asking for more. You will spend on what matters less and postpone what matters most. We love cutting corners when it comes to investing in ourselves. We look for a short cut – we want it free, almost free or later. This does not apply to our phones, fashion accessories, cars etc., things that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Putting money in its place

When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable, according to Myles Munroe. When we look at money as a survival tool, we are ready to lay down our lives for it literally. Leaving home before sunrise and returning after sunset in order to get paid, to have energy to repeat the cycle. The rat race is a highway heading nowhere.

If you cannot answer correctly what you need money for, you will keep chasing rainbows. More money, rather than move you closer to your mission with simply make you more comfortable as your expenses go up to wipe out your increase. Your income will never be enough. You will always want more.

If you use money well, money will work for you. Rather than giving excuses, you will reorder your priorities and use money as a tool to move you towards your goals rather than your reason for going to work. You may not have all the money you want. You have enough money to take the next baby step.

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