Putting Money in its Proper Perspective

One of the money mistakes I used to be guilty of was that I gave money way too much power in my life. On the seemingly “positive” side, I used it to try and buy happiness, to increase my self-esteem, to appear successful to others and to win others’ approval.

On the negative side, I allowed my life to be filled with stress, guilt, fear and condemnation because of the debt we’d accrued. I beat myself up constantly because of past bad financial choices and lived with lots of regret.

To put it in a nutshell, I gave money a much higher position in life than it deserved. 

In the Bible in the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus says, “He who is faithful in what is least is also faithful in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”

Part of what Jesus meant to get across in this parable is that money is on the bottom of the list as far as value is concerned.

Yet so many people give it far too much power in their lives – whether they have too much money or too little.

I remember spending countless hours being plagued with fear about our debt situation. What if Rick loses his job? What if we lose the house? What if we have to file for bankruptcy?

Even today there are stories weekly in the news of people breaking down and succumbing to financial pressures.

My dearest friends, don’t give money (or money difficulties) that much power in your life.

Instead, make a plan to overcome your fear of money and turn things around. Not because money is that important, but because you deserve peace of mind. 

Here are two steps you can take that can help you put money in its proper perspective.

Remind Yourself that There are Other Things in Life that You Value More than Money

Make a list of the top three-to-five things that mean the most to you in life – is money one of them? I’d be willing to bet that the top three aren’t money. For many, the top three go something like this:

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Friends

or

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Health

Money isn’t anywhere on the list of most people’s top three to five because it’s not as important as we sometimes think it is.

Remind yourself of that when you start to worry about money or start believing that it will buy you happiness.

Make a Plan to Change Your Money Situation

If money or the lack of it is being a snare, figure out the reasons why and make a plan to change it. If oodles of debt are stressing you out, make a plan to become debt free. 

Don’t focus on how long it will take to dump the debt – instead celebrate each day or month where your debt is lower than it was the month before, remembering that every step in the right direction is a victory.

Learning to de-value money yet still manage it responsibly can be a hard task for many people. I know I used to fluctuate back and forth – one day I’d give money so much power that I’d be terrified to spend a dime, the next day I’d completely de-value it and spend with reckless abandon because “it’s only money.”

So there is a balance to be found there. And that balance lies in realizing that money is a tool that can be used to help you gain some security in your life from a financial standpoint, or it can be used to get you into serious debt by funding emotional needs that will never truly be satisfied with money or stuff.

Once you’ve got a clear vision of money and how it can help you for real, you can begin on the road to managing it in a way that will help you achieve your true financial goals.

Have you ever struggled with giving money too much power? 

 

*Photo credit: Chrishna

12 comments on “Putting Money in its Proper Perspective

  1. So true. Yesterday I got a call that you never want to get. My stepmom was taken to the hospital. She’s still there and in the ICU but things are looking very good. Still, in those moments when you just want to make sure she’s going to be OK, money never even enters the mind as something of importance.

  2. Money (or wealth in general) is a necessary evil in my opinion. We all need it to live. Whether you pay cash or barter, you need to be able to give something in order to receive something in return.

    The difficult question to answer is “How Much Is Enough?” Most people will never have enough. You can always find a reason to spend more or save more. I always “liked” at work that people would say this job would be tolerable if we got paid $XX,XXX. Each time the annual salary rose to that amount, they were content for a couple weeks. Until they wanted more. I fell into this category as well.

    As you said, the top 3 values in most every person’s life doesn’t include money for most people. It’s really easy to value success by the size of a person’s paycheck, house, or car. But when trouble hits, these same people either look upwards or towards family/friends for support.

    Money is necessary & great but only goes so far.

  3. I think money worries are part of life unless you are very much financially secure. But like you said, you can’t give money power over your life. Faith and family is so important and money can’t take the place of that 🙂

  4. “Learning to de-value money yet still manage it responsibly can be a hard task for many people.” That was a struggle for me. I had a hard time justifying any focus on money management because it seemed “shallow” and of “false value”. Yet I had no trouble demonstrating shallow, false values in thoughtless spending. That idea of de-valuing AND managing money well was key for me.

  5. I agree, you can control money or let it control you and your lifestyle. I had gotten into the “letting it control me” when I’d racked up credit card debt thinking, “I deserve this.” I actually remember getting a new credit card and telling myself, “This one WON’T be used for eating out, random shopping, etc… It will be my empty emergency card…” Less than a year later it had a $2500 balance on it. Ugh.

    When we realized that we could use our current situation to get to a more free lifestyle and get to spend time with family, we have been way happier since. More happy than when we were randomly buying stuff we didn’t need, I’m guessing as “shopping therapy” just to get a little feel good sensation from buying stuff. I’d much rather have more time and freedom, and now am very close to that goal, mainly by changing how I viewed money.

  6. I love this post; it’s so full of great reminders!

    After our fairly tense discussion about our views on our finances, my husband and I are committed to having one, in-depth look at the state of our finances every month. I love the idea of having a quick assignment before each meeting, to help frame the discussion. I’m going to use the priorities list above for the next meeting. Thanks!

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