I was having coffee with a friend the other day and she was confiding in me about her money problems. She worked for a start up but wasn’t making enough, but also she wasn’t keen on asking for a raise. Her reason was that she wanted to be a “team player.” But in almost in the same breath, she admitted that she was envious of her friends who were financially fortunate enough to take many months off from work to travel the world. I thought this was so interesting.
On one hand, she feels if she asks for more money that it would make her less of a “team player” and would give everyone the impression that she’s actually a terribly greedy person. On the other hand, she looked at at well off friends as having freedom and independence as if having more money automatically provides you with that.
It’s pretty clear that there’s this tension that exists in her views on the role of money in her life. This tension got me thinking about my own views and how the way we all view the role of money is never straightforward.
There are so many different ways to think about money. On one hand, there’s this idea that money is the root of all evil. Immediately, images of Leonardo DiCaprio from the Wolf of Wall Street come to mind. But on the other hand, there’s this idea that money represents freedom and opportunity, vis a vis Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. I mean she certainly needed to have boat loads of money to be able to travel the world for an entire year!
The funny thing is that many of us often have both of these perspectives battling it out in our mind without us even knowing about it. And sometimes these contrasting views can prevent us from better financial decisions.
Your Money Journey
But how do we get here? Thinking about your own money journey is so important. For instance, when was the first time you were truly aware of your socioeconomic class? My own story is a bit unique because growing up my parents started many businesses both in the US and in India, so our financial position changed constantly.
There were times where I was very aware of us not having a lot, qualifying for free lunch in middle school and being embarrassed about it is a memory I can’t forget. And then there were other times where I was very aware of us having a lot. Immediately what comes to mind is when we had just moved to India from the US. We had a driver that would take me to private school and we’d drive past all the slums every single day.
I can never forget either of these memories. They were formative for my identity and explain a lot about my perspectives on money. For some of us these memories can be painful, but still so important to have awareness of them.
Making sense of it all
It’s such a rewarding practice to reflect on your earliest memories of money as that will give you some awareness on your own perceptions and perhaps give you insight on why you make certain decisions. But no matter what exactly your perceptions are, whether positive or negative, I’m here to tell you that money itself is definitively neutral. Inherently, money is neither good nor evil. But money can be used for either.
A good person with money will do more good. And a bad person with money will likely do more bad. In my view, money simply amplifies who you already are. They say that money can’t buy you happiness and that is absolutely fact. Because only you and you alone can bring happiness onto yourself.
And it is precisely why it’s so important that we understand our own thoughts and perceptions on what money means to us and how we feel about the things money can buy us as we all move forward on this money journey. At Clasp, we’re helping people by bringing that awareness to the forefront.
One of my favorite aspects of Clasp is the Money Journal, where you take a few moments for yourself to reflect on various purchases you made to determine whether you feel good about the purchase or not. It’s important that we spend on the things that bring us happiness, but it starts with having awareness first. Try it for yourself, it's free.
The essence of who we are as a company lies on this core belief: in order to make meaningful positive change in your life whether that be financial or otherwise you really have to have a strong sense of self first. Once you know yourself, anything is possible.
And away we go
This is the beginning of a beautifull friendship. In the meantime, are you curious to know what emotions drive your spending? Take our quiz to find out