Do You Know the Value of Money?

Is it worth it?

The past year of creating, modifying, and living by a budget has led to a revelation in how I perceive the value of money. Now that I know exactly where every dollar is going, it’s really interesting to see the difference in how I think about the “spending of money”. I now know the dollars that go into a purchase could otherwise be helping me take a step towards my (financial) freedom. Or, they could be contributing towards my happiness in the moment. So I ask myself the question- “Is my happiness in this moment worth putting off my freedom?” and “Can I get this happiness without spending $?” And quite often I find that the momentary high I get from spending the money is not quite worth it.

Prioritize What’s Important

How do I choose? I will generally prioritize moments that deepen friendships. These moments don’t always have to cost money, but I’ve found that living in Los Angeles, there are a plethora of fun and exciting little events that friends of mine love to go to. These are worth it, because the value I gain from their friendship is priceless. But I can now easily bypass impulse purchases I see in stores, like clothes, jewelry, books, etc. I feel like I finally understand the value of money! It only took me 40+ years!

How to Teach the Value of Money?

I have read and heard many articles discussing this topic. It fascinates me! How exactly does one teach the value of money? There are so many different meanings given to “money”. I think a lot of it has to do with influences from childhood. There are so many variables in how families deal with money. Below I’ve outlined some thoughts I’ve had about the differences between growing up in a family that had a healthy attitude about money and families that are dysfunctional with money. This is by no means a comprehensive study! I’m drawing from my own experiences here, so if anyone has any insight, please feel free to share in the comment section below. I’d say my family was a middle class/stressed, type family.

Poverty/Stressed:

Where a parent may be frivolous with money at the expense of family needs. Where parents are ashamed about not having money so pretend they have money and live beyond their means. Lack of financial role models, so not understanding about saving/investing. Lack of “connections” to people who can hire their children for entry-level jobs. Too much pride to ask for help. Where children hear fighting or depression around not having enough money.

Poverty/Not stressed:

Where children know there is not a lot of money but parents are able to maintain the basics while occasionally offering treats and splurges without it being a stressful, painful issue. Teaching children good work ethics and providing emotional support through school, applying for federal student loan aid and scholarships. Knowing where to go for help. Attitude of gratitude.

Middle class/Stressed:

Where there is enough money for basics but parents want more- so are stressed about money as if they were in poverty. Wanting more and comparing yourself. It is so easy to compare yourself, and there is always someone just one level up from you. Lots of fighting. Not understanding the significance of compound interest and the importance of investing. They may know people who are financially healthy, but cultural taboos around talking about money prevent helpful conversations. Not understanding the value of what they have. Not able to take action steps towards a financially healthy future.

Middle class/Not stressed:

Attention to saving or investing. Open to having conversations about money with their friends. Able to share strategies and learn about how to better their financial situation. Including children in discussions about money- especially in decision-making about why or why not they can afford something. Understanding that wealth is not just about how to trade time for money. Attitude of gratitude and sharing/giving to those who have less.

It’s different for everybody!

As you can see there is lots of overlap between the categories. Please keep in mind these are only my opinions- and a very idealized and simplified look at the economics of family dynamics. Of course, real families probably encompass a variety of all these traits. For those of us on the journey towards financial independence, it’s important to understand the real value of money. For me, it was helpful to take a look back at how I developed my understanding of money. I could identify long-held beliefs and question them, and let of those that didn’t serve my new path.

How do you value money?

I think the value of money is going to be different for everybody. Before you know what the value of money is to you, you first have to do some soul-searching and know what you want. Then you have to take a deep breath and face what you have, including debt and desires. Then you can make a plan with your current abilities to earn an income- and THEN you’ll know the value of money. What do you think? How do you understand the value of money? Let me know in the comments below!

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