Wednesday, November 05, 2014

My Relationship With Money

I woke up this morning, as I have for about a year now, to the radio combined with a beeping sound. It is supposed to be an alarm with one or the other, but it's a cheap radio and so I get both. It drives me crazy.

It replaced one I had had for nearly 20 years; it finally stopped holding the radio station and I was waking up to static noise.

This made the think about money and our relationship to dollars and stuff. We buy a $12 clock and expect it to work perfectly and last 15 years, and consider it a waste of money if it doesn't.

Yet we think nothing of buying $12 for a spaghetti dinner at the local restaurant. Or spending money on consumables like chewing gum, cigarettes (chewing tobacco in my husband's case) or $100 a month to watch the trash that comes across the TV screen these days.

We don't want to spend $4.00 for a bag of apples, but we'll spend $1.00 on a single candy bar. We expect appliances that we pay $500 for to last more than 5 years.

When you break it down, though, you're paying $100 a year for the $500 appliance. I spent about $1 a month on the cheap alarm clock (which I am getting ready to give to Goodwill and replace, as soon as I can find something suitable).

I think as a society, our relationship with money and stuff is weird.

I found this quiz about how you feel about money to be interesting as far the questions; the answer on the scoring left a little to be desired as it didn't really tell me anything. And I'm not sure it addressed the thing I am trying to puzzle out, which is the VALUE we place on things.

We over-value football players and under-value firefighters. We over-value entertainment and under-value education. We over-value the military and under-value the welfare of the nation's population. Or least in my mind we do. Obviously others do not agree.

We stand in judgment of someone on food stamps who buys a Mars bar, but honestly, doesn't everyone deserve a candy bar every now and then, if they want it? And who am I to stand in judgment of how you or you or you spend what you have, however you've received it?

I know I make bad decisions sometimes with money. That alarm clock was obviously a lousy purchase. Our house is full of stuff that needs to be removed - clutter that I can't quite part with because it might be worth $5, and yet - I want it out of here. I can name a dozen things that are stuffed in a closet that I need to remove (an original X-Box, an older model lap top, and about 100 books just to name three). I need to have a yard sale but I live in a rural area and I'm not able to pack the stuff up and haul it elsewhere.

This article says this: "I’ve noticed that people in general (and Americans in particular) have a complex love-hate relationship with wealth. People want to be rich — but they’re suspicious of those who already are."

I agree with this statement. Do you?

I'm still working on this idea, these thoughts of what we value. We value relationships but perhaps don't really work on them. We value our cellphones more than our mothers, it seems. Do we value stuff more than people?

When money is the primary value, it is a value misplaced. Of that much I am certain. But it is rather like being a food addict - you have to eat. In this society, you have to have money.

Is it any wonder we have a nation of hoarders?

This website, The Story of Stuff project, wants us all to have a better relationship with stuff. "We have a problem with Stuff. We use too much, too much of it is toxic and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division."

This is an idea I can get behind.

My goal is to develop a healthier relationship toward money and stuff. Money and stuff are both simply tools: things that make life better or harder, depending on how you use them.

I have never wanted more than "enough" - whatever that is. Enough to pay the bills, eat okay, and be comfortable. I've never aspired to great riches. Sure, I dream of winning the lottery - I think in our society it's a conditioned idea. But generally when I think about the lottery, I say - and mean - that's I'd be okay with just one of the smaller five-figure prizes. But even that is a complicating the relationship.

Anyway, this is what I thought about this morning when I hopped out of bed. Yes, I know, my brain goes nonstop.


  1. yes, so true...i'm not stuff buyer anymore really. i really have downsized since we moved from ca. we lived rather materialistically back there, not as bad as some but something i grew to be embarrassed about when i realized it. move 1500 miles from home and you'll downsize tremendously lol...i find myself only really buying things we need now but it is funny how i can still clean out the basement and toss a ton of "stuff", and then be happy about it! it's like we just buy, buy, buy then get excited when we clean it all out ha...have you thought about ebaying your things? that's what i'm doing with bags of ashlyn's clothes she doesn't want anymore...very easy and will give her a few bucks!

  2. I love how your mind works, to record your feelings and direct them toward us, too! I agree with so much of what you wrote. I like your "enough" analogy. But - that brings a whole blog of it's own....what is enough. Different for each of us, I'm sure. Whew!!


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