When you think about money there will be many different emotions and images that come to mind. What does money mean to you?
As you read that question, it is certain that you will have attributed a certain meaning to money.
The meaning you have is like a filter or window through which you see people, possessions, and events, and shapes how you make decisions…
If you chose security as the meaning of money, as I did when first posed the question, it is likely that your choice of car would be the one that has a higher safety rating.
On the other hand, if you answered ‘freedom’, then your choice of car would likely be the 4WD that enables you to get off-road and explore, even if you never actually do take it off-road.
The thing is, we all have a unique belief of what money means to us, each based on our own money filter.
The interesting thing about these unique filters is that there are a common set of meanings that you draw on unconsciously to make decisions and create the life that you have today.
Let’s have a look at some of the responses to the question of ‘what does money mean’. In the book, ‘The Secret Language of Money’, David Krueger identifies 22 meanings for money. Here I am going to look at 9 of the more common meanings.
It will be interesting if your response is on this list…
This is a reasonably straightforward and well-understood meaning.
Having more money typically will increase your range of choices and therefore come to mean freedom.
Those that associate with this meaning have the belief that wealth can effectively free them of any worry and open them to all opportunities.
As with any meaning in life, there is always the counter effect, the opposing view.
In the case of freedom, it can be argued that great wealth brings greater scrutiny and potential for negativity.
For example, ask any lottery winner (especially the large prize winners) what it is like to have great wealth. They tend to be hounded by anybody and everybody looking to get their hands on a slice of their wealth.
Not only do they win a large amount of money, they also attract a lot of new ‘friends’ and ‘advisors’.
To these people, the meaning of money would definitely not be freedom…
Financial Security is a desirable and measurable goal. In fact, at The Investor’s Way, it is what we want to teach as many people as possible.
With a set of goals, a plan, and strategies to achieve the plan you can attain financial security.
However, security as an emotional meaning is entirely different. Have you ever tried to put a dollar figure on how much would be enough for you?
Each time you come up with a number or get close to achieving this number, it tends to change and needs revision to another more distant number.
The dilemma becomes when is enough, enough…
The thought that money brings happiness would probably be one of the more popular themes about money in modern society.
Money certainly can buy you most things that you want, such as the latest technology, houses, cars, health care, and even a better mood.
But can it buy you happiness?
Have you ever made a purchase and gotten really excited about it and then by the time you get home, or maybe a day or even a week later, wondered why you bought the item in the first place?
The saying that money can’t buy you happiness is probably true. The positive emotions from having more money don’t sustain long enough to indicate that money means happiness.
Almost everybody relates money with power in some way.
And, not surprisingly, almost everybody aims for some level of both, money and power.
The more money you have, the more perceived power, and to some extent respect. It is a common belief that money gives you social status and is a measure of achievement.
However, as with all the previous meanings, power comes with a sting. The attainment of power can lead to the need for more power and therefore more money, and hence control over you.
You cease to enjoy the money because of the control it now has over you.
In modern society, it is a common belief that money can buy you time…
Time has evolved to be something that you can exchange for money.
The interesting thing about this relationship between time and money is that you give of your time to earn the money that we then use to try to buy back some of the time that we used to earn it.
It’s a circular equation that doesn’t seem like it will be solved any time soon.
This is on the darker side of the meaning of money.
This meaning results from an upbringing whereby you may have believed that your life had no meaning, or that nobody believed in you, and to prove them of your worth you sort to attain more money.
Money became the way that you proved your self-worth. It is the evidence, the measuring stick.
The only problem with this meaning is that you can’t measure your self-worth with money.
Those people who seek acceptance via money find themselves constantly having to prove themselves, and never really finding satisfaction or the acceptance they seek.
Your personal worth is completely independent of your net financial worth. The sooner you acknowledge that the better you will feel.
Another of the commonly understood meanings of money.
Attaining money leads to strong emotions of needing more money and the unfavourable attribute of greed.
The desire for more can become a sickness.
Losing control of this insatiable desire causes people to do whatever it takes to get more and more money.
Greed can be a very destructive emotion. Avoid this one at all costs, it won’t help you attain more in the long run.
To an extent, envy is a contrived meaning.
You are surrounded by marketing these days that convey people having more, enjoying more, and being more.
These images create emotions in you of envy, wanting what others have. We compare our results with those of others with no reference for our situation to those of who we envy.
This desire can manifest as low self-esteem, despite these images and projections provided in the marketing material that you envy being a completely unreasonable comparison.
Envy becomes an emotional state that you seek to avoid or stop feeling. You do this by attempting, with money, to give the appearance of wealth.
If you see money as meaning opportunity, you are the type of person who sees its capacity to provide, to grow, and to attain more.
You understand how to change your circumstances with money, not just a way to pay the bills.
Money seems to be attracted to you…
Your ability to see and seek out opportunities enables you to live for the future, beyond your current position and attain the goals you desire.
As I mentioned at the start, this list is not exhaustive of the various meanings that you can attribute to money.
However, it is likely that at least one of them will resonate with you.
The challenge is to understand how this impacts the decisions you make about money, and how these decisions will impact your ability to create wealth.
Your meaning will enable you to know what is important in terms of money and how to use this information to make more informed decisions that assist your wealth creation strategies and goals.
Knowing how you perceive money will provide you with some powerful information of why you are where you currently are with your wealth goals and how to improve your situation.
In the years that I have researched wealth creation, one of the observations that I have made about those that have struggled is that there is a tendency to get in your own way.
I attribute this to not knowing the meaning that you place on money.
So spend some time this week thinking about the question of ‘what does money mean’ to you and the decisions you have made recently about money.
How do they define your current wealth, and what can you do differently that will help you achieve your wealth goals?
Leave me a comment below on your thoughts on defining money. It would be great to get an understanding of other words you may have to describe what money means to you.