Thursday, March 22, 2018

“In our time, the curse is monetary illiteracy, just as inability to read plain print was the curse of earlier centuries.”

1: “One of the greatest pieces of economic wisdom is to know what you do not know.”
John Kenneth Galbraith
2: “We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
3: “99 percent of all statistics only tell 49 percent of the story.”
Ron DeLegge II, Gents with No Cents
4: “In our time, the curse is monetary illiteracy, just as inability to read plain print was the curse of earlier centuries.”
Ezra Pound
5: “Geniuses and prophets do not usually excel in professional learning, and their originality, if any, is often due precisely to the fact that they do not.”
Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy

Wealth and money are two different things to some people. For me, wealth doesn't necessarily reflect financial prowess but having a lot of money does. Wealth is a more "holistic" view of a person's happiness. They can be wealthy with experiences of traveling, or perhaps they are wealthy in a life of accumulated education and knowledge. The definition of wealth is as unique as the people who possess it.

Money, to me, is the strength or buffer zone of someone's financial capital. Bill Gates once said that how rich someone is would be to test how long they could survive with the money they had saved. I wholeheartedly agree with this concept. Like all resources, control over its quantity depends not only on how much there is initially, but how long it takes to deplete it.

People earn money by work, for the most part. There are of course exceptions, but for you and I, we have to earn our money in whatever ways we can to ensure our survival and livelihood. In Australia, there are three types of people when it comes to monetary success.

The first are the losers. Harsh label perhaps, but it reflects their spending habits. The losers spend far more money than they earn - fancy house, car, clothes, the whole nine yards. This might occur because one may want to enjoy a personal sense of achievement or perhaps to impose onto others that they are "successful" in life - "keeping up with the Jones's" as it is commonly referred to. They take out loans from the bank or the people they're close to more frequently than other people.

The second group are the winners. These are the people who spend money only on things that will yield a profit. They are calculative people and it has paid them dividends. Any excess is cut and sometimes an outsider may view their financial decision-making as "stingy". While they win in the financial game, they are often viewed by outsiders as hoarders and ungenerous.

The last group are the people who spend within their means. Their salary may be low, but so are their spending habits. Some may be richer, but they can afford to spend a bit more. Regardless, what they make and what they spend are in harmony. They do not go into debt, but they're not swimming in bank notes. From what I've observed throughout my life, most people in Australia fit into this category.

Being conscious of one's spending habits is an important life lesson and one I'm still learning myself. As I am being exposed to new situations as I mature, I have to look at my spending with a more critical eye. But sometimes it's good to splurge. A celebration for hard work is deserved.

In cases like these, we can't be excessively calculative with our money. After a year of hard work, it is absolutely within reason to indulge in an amazing holiday to a place on the other side of the world. We have to respect our non-financial well-being too.

Ultimately, we do not want to be in a position of debt. It hurts our wallet and reinforces bad habits, but more importantly it can damage our relationships, especially if we have to resort to borrowing from people close to us. It reflects our eagerness to feed our egos instead of developing relationships that do not depend on money.

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