Money is a taboo subject in my family. We were never rich, we weren't poor either, I would classify us as middle class, if you believe there is such a thing, but that is a different discussion. As a child, as long as you have everything you need, money doesn’t occupy your thoughts. We’ve had one rich person in my family, let’s say rich is having over one million dollars. It was my great uncle Charlie. He was from the fields of Mississippi, moved north, worked hard, and earned a better life for him and his family. He lived in Aurora, a suburb of Cleveland, about 40 minutes from downtown. As a child, it was always a big deal to go to visit Uncle Charlie’s. He had a huge house that he built from the ground up, acres of land, trees, and a pool, it was nothing like my day to day reality in Glenville on the east side of Cleveland. Uncle Charlie died one day. He left all his money to his oldest son. The son promptly turned his back on all his siblings, put his mother in a nursing home and got a woman on the side. He burned through all the cash in a matter of years. My uncle’s lifetime labor to establish generational wealth was undone by one fool in a fraction of the time.
There is more to money than the paper and ink which make up its physical properties. It becomes intoxicating to some, terrifying to others, and everyone cannot handle it. Money has a spirit. Don’t believe me? When you have money in your pocket, you feel confident, powerful, there is a bounce in your step. When you are broke? And you are getting alerts on your phone that your account balance is low? That is not the case. You feel vulnerable, exposed, and fragile knowing that any unexpected event can leave you financially crippled. You spend a lot of time praying, “God, please just let me make it to pay day.” Trust me I know, I’ve prayed that prayer.
Money can change you. It is like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, once you see it and have a taste, your eyes are open and you see the world in a total different light. It was not until I reached college that I saw what money could really give you. When I saw it, I wanted it, I’ve been chasing it ever since. Notice, the present tense. I haven’t got there yet. For people who don’t come from privilege, money represents where we are going, if I could just get THERE then I’d be alright. My life, my existence, my family would be comfortable and at peace if I could just get enough.
Just as health and mental conditions can be genetic, so can money habits. I’ve always been more of a spender than a saver, so was my father. See because as I chase the money right behind me is my natural predisposition to finances. I am a world class money spender. Since I started working at the age of 16, I’ve been able to spend money with the best of them. Money left over after bills are paid? That just gets the wheels turning for my next purchase. I was born this way. It is one of my flaws, but being a spender is not a typical flaw. See giving in to most shortcomings clearly negatively impacts our immediate and long term position. For example, a person who has a hair trigger temper, the outcome of that flaw is always detrimental. They blow up on friends, snap on family. But see an impulse buy… no that is a quick hit, which feels nice. Long term position? We worry about that later.
We have someone running for the highest office in our country whose entire claim for the position is how much money he has made. His rhetoric is built around the idea that - this country, is off track and I, I alone will bring it back to prominence by running it as a business….to make money. Do you know the biggest difference between the oppressed and the oppressor? How many dollars you are worth. The top 1% control a disproportionate amount of the wealth in the world. I guarantee if you take someone who downplays your plight out of their plush neighborhood, away from their treasure and place them where the oppressed reside, they would change their behavior. Guaranteed.
So how should you feel about money? That is for you to decide. I cast no judgement, I have no all mighty wisdom. I know money has caused countless wars, broken up infinite marriages, torn apart multitudes of happy homes and ruined lives. It has also opened doors, lifted families and communities out of poverty, allowed millions to become educated and earn a better life for themselves and their families all at the same time. I just wanted to make you think, evaluate your own relationship with the almighty greenbacks. But for me…I’ll just keep thinking…La, La, La, La wait till I get my money right…..