Recently a person who shall remain nameless made to me an argument stating that money is bad, nay, EVIL. I will not bother to detail this person or their argument further except to say that this is what inspired what I'm about to say. So let's start off by insulting almost everyone who will read this.

It is a fact that most Americans are clueless about money. I know this because data illustrates it: right now (October 2013) the average American has a credit card debt of $15,000.00 and "homeowners" an average mortgage debt of $148,000.00. Right now 47 million Americans are on food stamps, and another 7 million make more on welfare than they do working at McDonald's. Let's ignore the rising student loan debts because education is a investment with real dividends. If Americans had real financial education and understood about money they would not be so willing to enslave themselves to the monthly mortgage and credit card debt payment, the cell phone bill, the car payment, the gym membership, the cable television subscription, the restaurant bill, the tobacco bill, the alcohol bill.

I talk to these average Americans: some hard working, some disabled or on welfare, some working two jobs and still need to take food stamps to feed their kids. I've met hundreds of them in my personal and professional life, and I hold them no ill will in fact the opposite. When I talk to these lower and middle income but debt-ridden people I listen carefully about how they talk about money.

This essay is to those willfully ignorant people who act as though they do know about money - an absurdity considering their often self-impoverished state of debt. If you people can't manage your own finances, don't authoritatively speak concerning t government spending or personal fiscal policies or why capitalism is wrong or why you favor a resource based economy.

Briefly, let me demonstrate without bragging too much that I am qualified to preach on this subject. I am at the present time 28 years old, single by choice. I own rental property that makes me financially independent, meaning that I do not ever have go work a 9/5 in order to continue existing. I save money every single month. I have zero and I mean ZERO debt. I did this all myself - I grew up very poor and started working (and saving) full time at 15.

Enough about me. By now you will either trust me as an authority who knows what he's talking about or you don't. Yes, I believe my credentials make my opinion more valuable than someone who is debt-laden. Moving on, let us start at the beginning. What is money?

Now pay attention because this next part is important. Money is how you keep track of who owns who. Every single debt you have constitutes you being a literal slave via credit card or mortgage agreement to the slave-owner for the duration. Every single entity to which you owe money is holding a knife at your throat threatening always to cut you if you behave in any contrary way. This threat of violence is not invisible - but tangible in a very real sense. You feel the stress impelling you to go to work even when you feel misused and abused by your employer. You understand that if you don't pay your car payment men will come and legally steal your vehicle. You understand that if you do not make your house payment, you will be threatened with eviction and eventually violently (but legally) expelled by your slave-master's thugs. You feel the looming ostracism if for any reason your social status should decrease.

This is where most people make their mistake - they think to themselves that "this is just the way it is" or that "I can't help it because I don't make enough money" or a myriad of other excuses. The real thought ringing throughout their mind should be: how can I avoid this situation? These are the words I have for all you debt laden masses:

For anyone who truly values freedom, you must seek it in your own life. Abundance of money is a pure expression of true freedom. You cannot be free when you must labor each day for the slave-masters named Visa, Ford, Wells Fargo, and yes Uncle Sam.

If you internalize the concepts that lust of freedom for yourself and your family is necessarily desire for money, you can start to change your internal way of thinking. You have to learn to love money, but hate what money buys. Every purchase must be reluctant. Think like a capitalist. You will understand that unspent money is infinite possibilities. Spent money can only be one thing - ever. If you are more free the more choices and possibilities available to you then you are more free the more unspent money you have. Because money is important to you, you will value it. You will realize that people who do not value money do not care to keep it, and so cause their own suffering.

This desire for freedom should be so strong that you are quite willing to endure ostracism and give up social status: trade in your new car and buy a used car to eliminate your car payment thus lowering your insurance and tax liability. Pay off your mortgage as soon as possible. Cancel your magazine, television, cell phone subscription. Don't go out with friends or family if it means spending money. Eat simpler, and eat at home. Don't overindulge in pleasures like alcohol or tobacco. Do not buy gadgets or doodads. Do not buy people birthday or holiday presents. Spend less on gas and electricity by walking and by never using air conditioning.

Revel in the visceral pleasure of paying your debt off. Visualize yourself mentally orgasm upon seeing your savings account. Value money far above people. You must be selfish. You can best help your neighbor when you yourself are unburdened. Selfishness by putting yourself first results in more humanitarian thinking and behavior because you understand by experience what being financially happy and content is all about. And if you want to raise a family freedom is the ultimate way of expressing your love because you will give to them the ultimate you: unstressed with unlimited time and choice of activities.

Understand that you don't become wealthy by increasing your income, but by bridling your expenditures. Realize that your goal should be to buy things that generate you income so that some day you can work or not work according to your desire, in the field of your choice.

If you are married you must make this effort together. If you are single, I strongly urge you to ensure that your values are shared by your partner. This is a fundamental way of thinking about the world, far more immediate than any idea of religion, and more important to your daily life than any question of politics, opinion, attractiveness or background.

If you choose to start on this journey (and I really hope that you will) then know that you are not alone. Many have written on this subject - educate yourself. Perhaps read Robert Kiyosaki, listen to Dave Ramsay, try to imagine the mindset of Donald Trump.

Good fortune!

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Comment by Joan Denoo on November 1, 2013 at 2:55am

You may be surprised, but I agree with you. My argument with the government, capitalism, and education is that they teach one to be consumers and enable one to borrow money for wants. Watching the younger generation spend for things they don't need, or a standard of living they can't afford by too easily borrowing money, and then getting caught with paying not only the cost of whatever it is they want, but interest as well.

I agree that young people need to start out by not having credit cards, or if they do, to pay them off each month in time to avoid interest payments. I also agree that such expenses as housing, transportation, household costs need to be lower than the income generated. If a couple starts out doing that, and keeps it up for a lifetime, people will have more at the end of their lives than if they borrowed to satisfy their wants.

Living simply is a challenge and it can be a pleasant one. I bought a condemned house and over the years turned it into a lovely home, using borrowed money only the first ten years. We have gourmet meals because I know how to turn a potato into a thing of pleasure ... without spending a lot. I grew our vegetables when my children lived at home, and they are now growing gardens for their families. 

You are on the right track, and I understand the frustration you express about how ignorant so many people are about money. It can be a tool that works for one, or it can be a means to work against one. 

If one is to live such as you describe, any partner he/she has must be of the same mind. Fighting over money destroys any sense of peace and joy in a home. If two people have common goals, such a lifestyle can be an adventure and an achievable challenge. By all means, do not link up with someone expecting to change them after commitments have been made. 

Good luck to you, although getting along in life requires more than luck. I like your ambition. I do have concern that you may be rigid; that can cause problems when issues of living confront you. I am a 77 year old woman and was born at the end of the Great Depression. I lived through those lean years and am grateful I have the experiences to draw on in a bad economy. 

Comment by Daniel W on October 31, 2013 at 9:48pm

Čenek,

Thoughtful approach and discussion.  Your attitude is not typically American.  Neither is mine.

Somewhat like you, I was on my own at 17.  Responsibility for my own finances and security was formative in much of my attitude about money.  I did military time, which helped a lot for future education.  I worked through school.  My grades were not always the top, it's hard to do that when working, but I was diligent and overall had very good grades.  

I don't like debt, and I don't have any.  I've tended to save ahead, or work ahead and earn what I decided I needed or wanted.  I overdid education, which did wind up putting me in debt, but I paid it back as quickly as possible, and the debt has long been retired.

I bought my house knowing it needed repairs and improvements.  I did repairs and improvements myself, and it's worth a lot more now.  I paid cash for my car, and ran it into the ground before buying another.  For clothes to wear at home, I buy them second hand.  Old jeans and shirts last a long time, and it doesn't matter that they come from a yard sale, or Goodwill - plus it's environmentally friendly to reuse.   Like you, I don't drink or smoke.

In the current economy, I don't know if you are right about education.  At least, not universally.  Some degrees will get you far further than others, and some never pay off.  On average, however, it pays to go to college.

I also prefer my own cooking to eating out or premade.  A garden supplies some food as well.  Cheaper, healthier, better.

One thing to be careful about - no one thinks they will get ill.  But illness or injury can happen to anyone.  It can wipe you out.  It's less likely when you are young, but it can still happen.  Be sure you have health insurance.   At least, for catastrophic issues.

Comment by Čenek Sekavec on October 31, 2013 at 6:31pm

Thanks for your comments everyone :)  

Audrey, perhaps would you do me the favor of explaining why anthropomorphize money?

Tom, I agree sir! Abundance without opulence. 

Luara, you hit the nail right on the head with the job importance topic. I echo Thomas More that I desire to be "free, so far as possible, to withdraw their time and energy from the service of the body, and devote themselves to the freedom and culture of the mind. For that, they think, is the real happiness of life." [from Utopia]

Comment by Luara on October 31, 2013 at 2:31pm

My attitudes towards money are similar to Čenek's.  I don't like to spend money and I avoid buying stuff except when I think it would really matter to me.  Then, I look into it a lot and choose something of high quality. 

For a poor person, being careful about how they spend money, might be a very important part of getting out of poverty. 

People who have jobs that are important to them, like scientists who are enthusiastic about their work and couldn't do it outside an organized job, tend to not care so much about money.  They might be paid badly, but they're paid enough to get by, and rich in enthusiasm, so they stay in the job.  "Living for freedom" by not having a regular job implies being un-enthusiastic about the available work, and perhaps, wanting to avoid the social structures - companies, etc. - that offer the work.

My reluctance about spending money has caused me problems, actually.  I posted earlier about a medical situation recently where self-help was crucial.  I had to self-diagnose an allergy by going to a no-pets hotel for about a week, repeatedly, to get over a chronic illness that was from allergens in my house.   Then I exposed myself to dogs and got really sick, so I knew I had a dog allergy. 

But I avoided doing this for a long time, partly because of the expense.  Not being willing to spend money on myself was part of why it took so long to figure out this chronic illness.  I ended up being too sick to have a normal life for about 6 years.  My awful family background probably made it harder to spend money on myself, on experiments with hotels.  I had no way of knowing whether the experiment would work, so I had to possibly "waste money". 

In the past year I've spent money like water, trying to help myself.  Both on expensive medications and on living in various hotels to be relatively free of pet allergens.  (I rented a NEW mobile home recently, so I'm not spending tons of money on hotels any more - and it has a lot less allergens than the hotels, so it's helping me).  Sometimes you have to be willing to spend money that may be wasted. 

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on October 30, 2013 at 11:48pm

I've been poor and I've been rich. I choose rich.

Comment by AudreyRuma on October 30, 2013 at 10:54pm

Keeping it short, Money is the Devil, it is a fear tactics by all the organized theologies and some of the cultures are following that blindly too. If one has theologically poisoned parents than is a brain wash and the goal is same as a marriage, " till death do us apart ....".

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