Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about money, finances, moola, dollar dollar bills… whatever you want to call it, without even realising, it can dominate your life. At the end of the day, as much as we may not like it, money makes the world go round. Many people think that money brings happiness from allowing you to indulge in luxuries such as fancy holidays to buying your dream home. But why do we have such an attachment to it? Does money really bring happiness and if so why is it such a taboo topic?
Growing up my parents taught us to have respect for money. We worship Laxmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth, purity and abundance. Laxmi will grace you with good fortune when your intentions are pure and you show dedication and hard work. We grew up in a simple household where my parents worked extremely hard for their fortunes. They never bought us expensive toys or clothes and always taught us the value of saving. We saw them ‘grinding’ for every single thing they have. Nothing was handed to them on a plate and what is even more inspiring is that they don’t feel a need to flaunt or showcase what they have earned. They live a modest life and it is truly admirable. As South Asian immigrants they have done their community proud.
I guess I was lucky that I was raised with an understanding and respect for money with role models to support. However I think there is a severe lack of education on the topic of money in schools. We should be educating children from an early age so that they understand what money actually means and how best to manage it.
After university, once landing my first job and securing a stable income, you could say I became addicted to the security of a monthly income. As my parents had taught me I would always save a portion of my income and then use the rest to live a ‘happy’ life – experiencing new things from the latest restaurant to the newest dress in Zara. But once I realised that I could leverage my ‘skills’ to get a higher paid job I did exactly that. As I’ve talked about before, none of the jobs really gave me any satisfaction. But what they did give me was financial stability to start saving for a property and a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel. Don’t get me wrong, without working those jobs and earning the associated salaries I wouldn’t be on the property ladder or be preparing for a 6 month travelling adventure. But my point is that my motivation for continuing in really unhappy jobs was to save more money. Can you imagine how much more I would have saved if I was working as hard but on something I actually enjoyed doing? My happiness was the sacrifice I made to be financially stable and that’s where I knew my mentality around money needed to change.
Money as a taboo
Money gives such a level of status in society. I remember in previous jobs some employees would secretly talk about their salaries, while others didn’t wish to discuss it at all. The reason it was always in secret was because companies often included clauses in contracts about not disclosing how much you earn to others. There is no transparency. Without transparency and equality we see pay gaps and discrimination based on age, gender and race. Companies often use money as a bartering technique but honestly I don’t think that creates loyalty among staff. If anything after a few years that employee will be looking for the next highest payout as a standard has been set.
I don’t know if you have felt this too but when a friend or family member gets a new job you would never dare to ask about the salary. Likewise when people are struggling with money they find it hard to open up about it as it carries feelings of inadequacy or failure. Why do these paper sheets create this feeling and why can’t we openly discuss our feelings around money? If we did could we not solve more of our problems and limit the associated worries that cause so much anxiety.
I listened to a podcast this week: the Calmer You Podcast: Anxiety & Confidence – Flow, money and how to be electric with Jody Shield. They talked about how much of a taboo topic money is. They discuss how we become awkward and uncomfortable when it is brought up but in reality it should be talked about more. They discuss how money has always been meant to be used as an exchange and in order for us to grow we need to be able to invest in ourselves and in our businesses.
I couldn’t agree more, but I know personally there is a fear around an investment paying off, especially if you are looking for a specific return on it. For example, in my situation I don’t have another job to fall back on if an investment I make into my own business doesn’t work out. That fear around ‘losing’ the money becomes a vicious cycle, one hard to detach from. What if we switch the mentality though. If you are able to make financial investments in material items then why not make those same investments in yourself instead. You might just find that the result is even greater than any material possession. Think about things like courses, reading new books, trying counselling or therapy, travelling the world. These investments in yourself might just leave you better equipped to attract more financial security into your life.
Money and happiness
When leaving my full time job that gave me financial security, money was the only thing that gave me doubts. I didn’t worry about how I would fill my time, or if I would miss the routine. My only concern, and the reason why I didn’t do it sooner, was money. Money just had such a hold on me. And since leaving, I have never felt happier. Yes I think about money and worry about the financial implications but I don’t wake up each day dreading the day ahead. I wake up with a sense of lightness knowing I am building my day in the way I want it to flow, not dictated by someone else. It is giving me the space and time to concentrate on the things I enjoy and I know one day that will help me grow a business of my own that will give me that financial stability, more than I could ever get in working for someone else.
If you have the right intentions, served with hard work and gratitude, money and financial stability will flow. But happiness is not dictated by money. Money can buy those short term satisfactions but not true happiness. Instead use money to invest in yourself. Invest in your own growth and development, I bet it will pay off more than any material possessions will.
This was quite a deep topic to talk about and as mentioned, something seen as being quite taboo to discuss. Lets talk about it, share experiences, help each other and break the taboo. Do you have a different perspective on money mentality and happiness? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
P.s You can read more about my journey here.