The Money Trap
What is money really for? Most people would simply answer “to buy stuff,” but I want to challenge that thinking. I agree that it can be used to buy things, but we should start thinking on a grander scale and start thinking about how we can use money to buy freedom.
Freedom from excessive work, freedom from pressure, freedom from missing out on time with your family and friends, freedom from being a slave to maintaining your things. Freedom to live a more meaningful and abundant life full of purpose.
My aim is not to criticize, but to give you a new perspective. Let me go ahead and put my disclaimer out there: this perspective came through the school of hard knocks. My wife and I both got it wrong for many years. In fact, that's the main reason why I'm so passionate about financial responsibility today.
You’ve probably heard the saying that we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.
Every week I talk to people who are trapped in a job they don’t love. They feel stuck. They want to stay in a house that’s too large, to keep their kids in private school, to pay for a luxury cars, to eat at restaurants they really can't afford, to keep that excessive boat, to shop without limitations, to take over-the-top vacations, and to keep and maintain the lifestyle they’ve built. Sadly, that same job often keeps them so occupied that they barely have time to enjoy the life they’re building.
Now if you see them on Facebook, it looks like they have it made. They have a picture-perfect family and seem to enjoy all of the accommodations that relative wealth brings. But it’s so deceptive because in reality something is missing. They’re frustrated on the inside. They feel pressure to keep up… there is unspoken and unintentional pressure from the family, from a demanding job or boss, or for the desire to give their children a better life or more experiences than they had. Living under that kind of pressure becomes discouraging and can make even the strongest of us feel defeated.
There’s something wrong with that, right? Listen, I’m all for a nice home, good education, decent and reliable cars, boating, and vacations. I really like those things myself! However, I believe there is something wrong when having to give so much of your life to sustain those things keeps you from being able to enjoy them. Or worse, it keeps you from your most precious treasure… your family.
Are you with me? So how do you keep from falling into this trap? I believe the key is to ask one very important question before every financial decision. Whether you are considering accepting a job at a new company, accepting a promotion, buying a house with a larger mortgage, taking out a loan on a car or boat, taking a big vacation, dipping into your retirement savings to buy something, or any other financial decision, ask yourself this…
Is saying yes to this going to bring me greater freedom or am I going to be enslaving myself to sustaining what I’m building?
I would like to boldly suggest that if it’s not going to bring you greater freedom in the long run, there’s a strong chance that your answer to that next thing, whatever it happens to be, should be NO (or perhaps just not right now). “No” is the one of the first words I remember my kids saying, but it seems to be one of the hardest words for us adults to say.
Do you find yourself completely embroiled in this kind of futile living and thinking? What can you do to unravel the complicated web of obligations you’ve unintentionally built? The place to start is by recognizing it for the trap that it is. Start adjusting your perspective and the value you assign to money. Seek some help in breaking down the financial obligations that seem to have snowballed over time. Is it hard… yep, but probably not as hard as you might think. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Just to be clear, I am not saying you should sell all of your possessions, quit your job, or neglect saving for your future. I’m just saying, don’t get trapped in the “Rat Race.” We really do have a choice. We can use money to buy more and more things or we can use it to pursue financial freedom. It may feel impossible today, but you can live a more meaningful life that has more purpose and impact if you’re willing to challenge the status quo. Send me an email if you’d like to talk to me about how to get there.