8 Money Myths You Have to Know
Money is scarce.
We’re taught that money is scarce, so you must clutch it with tight fists. Money is hard to earn and easy to squander.
But is this true? Or is this a self-fulfilling prophecy? If we believe that money is scarce, do we close ourselves off from receiving it?
You’ve heard the expression: “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you spend.”
This is half-true. What you spend matters, but what you earn also matters. It’s both. It’s what you earn and what you spend.
Your job is to increase the gap between earning and spending. There are two ways to grow this gap: earn more, spend less, or a combination of both.
Money doesn’t matter.
Uhh, money does matter. If it didn’t, why wake up to an alarm clock? Why climb out of a cozy warm bed, scrape ice off your windshield, and sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic? Why spend the day drinking lukewarm coffee under fluorescent lighting, while you answer emails and shuffle paper and deal with a passive-aggressive supervisor?
Why would you endure this with your short, beautiful life … and then turn around and claim that money doesn’t matter?!
This makes zero sense.
When people say that money doesn’t matter, oftentimes they mean buying unnecessary crap doesn’t matter. Lamborghinis don’t matter. Gucci handbags don’t matter. That’s true. That’s also irrelevant.
Money is distinct from the physical goods it purchases.
A surplus of money buys the opportunity to engage in work that fuels you. Money allows you to wake up to an alarm because you’re going to spend the day creating art, or writing, or volunteering, or building a business, or taking care of your children.
Time is scarce, and value derives from scarcity. Time, therefore, is more valuable than money.
Money is the root of all evil.
The actual quote is “for the love of money is the root of all evil.”
Money itself isn’t the root of all evil. Loving money — i.e., greed — can lead to evil decisions, but money itself is an inanimate object. It’s neither good nor evil.
Money is a tool, like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build a house or torture a kitten. Regardless of how you use it, the hammer itself is merely an object. The person wielding the hammer imbues it with meaning.
Money causes conflict. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
As a child, if you saw your parents or siblings arguing about money, you may have developed the unconscious idea that money creates conflict.
In reality, your spending is a reflection of your priorities. An argument about money, fundamentally, is an argument about values.
Often, a person’s stated values — they values they think they hold — aren’t reflected in the way they spend.
Someone might say, “my health is important,” but regularly choose fast-food to save a few bucks.
Someone might say, “I want to travel, but I can’t afford it,” but they order from restaurants twice a week.
Someone might say, “I’m committed to growing my side business,” but they’re not willing to invest in it.
Money reflects what people actually care about. When people argue about money (including internal conflicts with themselves), they’re not actually arguing about money. They’re conflicted about priorities.
It’s shameful or embarrassing to think about money.
At a recent Epic Life Conference, I covered the topic of money and asked folks to write down some thoughts about money. One of those that many had was…
“I don’t want to have to think about money so much.”
What’s wrong with thinking about money? People may argue that it’s more noble, more morally authoritative, to discuss ‘safe,’ ‘esteemed’ topics like social causes and art and music.
But — um, hello! — money allows you to spend your time focused on your passions and priorities. What could possibly be more critical than that?
Rich people suck.
Oftentimes, people who would agree with the statement “you shouldn’t judge someone based on their socioeconomic class” will also, in the same breath, make flippant comments like “rich people don’t care,” “rich people are greedy,” or “rich people suck.”
I think some people hold a deeply limiting belief that they’ll never be rich. Nor will their friends or family. A reasonable coping mechanism, therefore, is to “otherize” the wealthy.
But as we’ve learned, the “us vs. them” mindset is never positive for society. This is a mindset we should eradicate, not encourage. If you agree that it’s wrong to judge others based on their socioeconomic class, remember that this works in every direction.
Profits are made by taking advantage of others.
This myth comes from the idea that life is a zero-sum game. When one person wins, another loses. Any money you’ve earned is “made off the back” of someone else. Profits are evil; if you own a business and make profits, you are necessarily taking advantage of others.
Every time I publish a real estate income report, I get comments telling me that I shouldn’t profit from my tenants. They tell me that I should “be nice” and offer my properties at-cost; otherwise, I’m taking advantage of my tenants.
I’ve thought about this carefully, and here is my conclusion:
If rental investors couldn’t make money, there would be no incentive to invest.
The Bottom Line:
We hold many misconceptions around money. Some of these are tactical, such as misinformation about credit scores. Others are mindset-oriented, and influence how we feel about concepts like profits, scarcity/abundance, and the level of attention that we give to our finances.
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