My girlfriend and I maintain what I believe is a fair distribution of labour for managing our finances. She does the actual management, accounting, forecasting and planning; while my role involves the much more significant and challenging task of offering her sage advice on income and expenditure from time to time, and generally making sure we spent an optimum amount of money every month on various pursuits. This should not surprise anyone, considering she is a banker and I’m a gloriously unemployed student, for now at least. Also, to tell you the truth, she ignores most of my advice most of the time, and seems perpetually perplexed and annoyed by the idea that a bottle of Old Monk rum a week is a fair and efficient use of money. If that doesn’t surprise you, I swear I have no idea why.
Anyways, this Saturday, as we were headed to a restaurant for some weekend Fish ‘n Chips and beer, I was offering similar advice, and she was ignoring me as usual. I eventually told her that I have this theory about people’s attitude towards money. To be honest, I had never thought of any such theory before. What I had were personal perceptions of how different kind of people look at money from their different perspectives. I just put those together on the spur of the moment and presented it as a grand theory. To my surprise, she actually agreed that it made some sense. So here goes:
I believe a person’s desire for money depends on how much money he has, and the two of these aren’t always directly or inversely proportional. Now, commonsense might suggest that the lesser money one has, the greater is his/her desire for it. However, based on what I’ve seen of life and the world so far, this isn’t exactly the case. I can roughly divide people into three stages of their lives depending on how much they want to accumulate money, and money already in their possession dictates that desire.
The first stage comes when you have very little money. An allowance from your parents, just enough for your bus-fare and lunch. The occasional extra buck during the festive season, the rare charity by an indulgent aunt who’s come to visit. It’s very little. And yet, children, except for some spoilt rich brats, hardly ever complain that they don’t have enough money to get by. At least I never did. It’s not like there’s an absence of temptation. I believe children are far more wise in the ways of the world in many cases than we so-called adults actually are.
The second stage comes when you actually come into some money. Your first job, for example. Or a decent pocket-money allocated by your parents when you’re in college. It’s at this time when your desire for money is the strongest. It’s the time when you can afford things on your own, and there are always things that are just beyond what you can afford. A second movie in a week, that pair of Nike shoes, that slightly more expensive car, that brand of scotch…there’s an endless list of things that makes you wish you had a little more money. Not much, just a little.
The third stage can come either when you have a lot of money, or you have an adequate amount of wisdom. You might end up a billionaire, at which point you might realise that you’ve got enough for a lifetime. Of course, general perception is that the billionaire tycoons are the ones who want money the most. I believe rather than the actual money in their bank accounts, it’s the game that they enjoy. I mean, take Ratan Tata or Warren Buffet. Do you really think they care a lot about their personal wealth? The other scenario is, you might not end up a billionaire, and you can still end up content. You might realise that you have enough money to live reasonably well and indulge in your hobbies and interests, and you can choose to give up the desire for more in exchange for that satisfaction and peace.
There are exceptions to this theory, of course. Some people never seem to have enough, no matter how much they have. I pity them. Some people, on the other hand, have no desire for it, no matter how little they have. I have no idea what to do with them.
Finally, which of the three stages do I fall in? Well, neither. You gotta have some money to qualify. I don’t have any. Mind you, I am not complaining. My manager/banker/financier keeps me well-fed, clothed and pampered. And there lies the biggest truth of the world.
What’s money compared to love? Cheers.
- Money and Happiness (bpnadeau.wordpress.com)