You may recognize the phrase “money isn’t everything.” Maybe you heard it from a parent or teacher when you were a kid, or perhaps you picked it up as an adult.
If you’ve ever caught yourself saying this, this post is for you.
Contrary to popular belief, money is everything — but maybe not for the reasons you expect. This article will explore why money is at the core of everything you do (and don’t do) in life and how to use it to your advantage.
But first, let’s begin with the basics.
Table of Contents
What is money?
We’re all familiar with the economic definition of money — a medium of exchange we use to buy goods and services and a store of value.
When you think about money, you may think of coins or printed currency since these are the most common forms of money in our modern world. However, money can be anything people agree has value, such as livestock, crops, and more recently, cryptocurrencies.
Anyone paying attention knows that money is much more than a medium of exchange or store of value — it’s a fundamental force that either helps us progress in life or holds us back.
Why should you care about money?
You can say you don’t care about money until you’re blue in the face, but it won’t change the reality. We need money to achieve almost everything in life — whether you like it or not.
Money is a tool that allows us to live the life we want. For example, if your dream life involves yearly sabbaticals for travel or other personal endeavors — will this be possible without money? The answer is probably not.
You should care about money, but not only for what it can buy. Money is a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals and live a meaningful life.
It changes our quality of life. You can afford to live in a safer neighborhood, buy healthier food, give more money to charity.
Do you need to improve your relationship with money?
If you want to use money to your advantage, you first need to explore your relationship with it.
So, what do we mean by “relationship with money?” Does it mean you have to start taking your money out on dates and paying better attention to its needs? In a sense, yes.
For example, if your parents didn’t have a healthy relationship with money, you may have overheard them use phrases such as “money is the root of all evil” and “money doesn’t grow on trees.”
A simple way to test your relationship with money is by looking at the phrases below. As you look them over, notice what emotions or thoughts arise.
- Money is evil
- Money makes people greedy
- It’s rude to talk about money
- More money, more problems
- Money is a force for good
- It’s possible to improve my financial situation
- I believe I can achieve financial success
Take a moment to reflect on what came up for you. For example, when you read “money makes people greedy,” did you nod your head in agreement? If you did, this could signify an unhealthy relationship with money.
If you believe having more money will make you a greedy person, what do you think will happen? You will likely overspend, undersave and find other ways to self-sabotage your financial success.
When you read “money is a force for good” or “I believe I can achieve financial success,” did you roll your eyes and think to yourself, “yeah, right.” If so, you might need to work on your relationship with money.
Like most things, the answer isn’t black and white but somewhere in the middle. Money isn’t inherently good or bad — it’s a neutral tool that most people use for good and a select few use for evil.
How to build your relationship with money
Now that you understand transforming your relationship with money is key to improving your financial situation, here’s what to do next:
Explore your money beliefs
You might be carrying around money beliefs you absorbed as a child from the adults around you. If you want to improve your relationship with money, you need to explore your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about money.
Use the following prompts to help you uncover your money beliefs:
- What did you learn about money from your parents?
- What’s your earliest memory of money?
- How did your parents talk about money?
- When your parents would discuss money, did it often involve fighting and negative emotions?
Maybe your parents didn’t tell you anything about money, but you likely still observed how they interacted with money and their financial patterns. Exploring these memories is the first step to improving your relationship with money.
Talk about money
Being open about money is essential. Society has somehow made us believe that talking about money is wrong or impolite — but that is simply false. This stigma is problematic because if you feel uncomfortable talking about money, you probably won’t ask for help or advice when you need it.
Do a financial health check-up
If you’ve been avoiding checking in on the state of your finances, it’s time to change that.
What to do during a financial check-up:
- Make a list of your income and expenses
- Organize your debts (type of debts, amounts, and interest rates)
- Check your credit report (obtain free credit reports every year from AnnualCreditReport)
- Make a list of your assets (such as your house, car, or other property)
- Write down your financial goals and why you want to achieve them
Organizing and reviewing your information is the only way to move forward. How will you achieve your goals if you don’t know where you’re starting from?
Reflect on what a “rich life” looks like for you
Take some time to reflect on what a “rich life” means to you — you might be surprised at what you discover. A rich life doesn’t have to mean expensive yachts, luxurious vacations, and designer handbags — though it could.
Only you get to define your version of a rich life. Maybe your rich life means being a nomad and traveling the world with nothing but a backpack. Or perhaps it looks like a healthy balance between simplicity and luxury. A rich life means living life exactly the way you want — that’s true wealth.
Why money is everything?
Life is better when you have money, but not for the reasons you’d expect. You can spend your life chasing a luxurious lifestyle, but the true power of money is its ability to make everything in life better. Here are a few key ways money improves our lives.
Money and freedom are inextricably linked.
Money gives you more control over how you spend your everyday life — freedom of time.
Money is an opportunity to give back and help others in need — freedom to be generous.
Money allows you to decide how you live your life — freedom of choice.
The list goes on. Maybe you’re working at a job you hate because it pays well. Money allows you to choose a job you like (even if it’s in a lower-paying field). In some cases, it may mean not having to work at all — so you can spend your days working on personal projects, traveling, or anything else you see fit.
One of the most valuable things money can buy isn’t a sports car or a big house — it’s stability.
So, what does stability look like?
It means having a safety net in case the unexpected happens. It means not having to worry that you’re one medical crisis or job loss away from bankruptcy. It’s the ability to buy a reliable car instead of one that breaks down all the time. It’s in knowing you are saving enough to have a secure retirement one day.
Stability provides a strong foundation you can build upon and use to live your version of a rich life.
Though money can’t buy health, it can certainly help. When you have money, it’s easier to maintain good health because you can afford doctor’s visits, healthier food, personal trainers or gym memberships, etc. If we don’t have our health, we may not achieve our goals or be able to live life the way we want.
Peace of mind
Money gives us peace of mind and improves our mental health. According to a recent survey from Capital One CreditWise, 73% of Americans said their finances are the most significant source of stress in their life. Money stress will always exist, but I’d argue that the pressures that come with having money are better than the stress of not having enough.
There are a few different ways to interpret the phrase, “money is everything.” It’s all about perspective. I believe money serves as a foundation for our lives because you can’t live in the modern world without it. We need to recognize its power and necessity to maximize our time and live the life we want.
Saying money is everything doesn’t mean nothing else is important. It’s recognizing that money is connected to everything. It’s ok to want to make extra money or put investing first. Take care of yourself.
Which points from this article resonate with you the most? Leave a comment below!
Theresa is a personal finance blogger. She writes content for busy professional women to take control of their money and investments. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking, and writing. Her work has been featured on GoBanking Rates, Your Money Geek, Savoteur, the Corporate Quitter, Thirty Eight Investing, and more.