The Love of Money
I expect this one to hurt…
I have a difficult relationship with money.
Something I went to Peru to heal. (That will be our discussion in part two.)
I think it started when I was a boy.
As I sit here in Winnipeg, Canada preparing to speak to a very small group about investing, I find myself ungrateful for the potential clients who will show up.
Not because they aren’t good people, not because there won’t be action-takers among them, not even because they have mostly done poorly at making and managing money. Indeed the only reason
I’m ungrateful for a room full of beautiful human beings, is because the room isn’t big enough.
Big enough for what? For me to make a bunch of money.
When a friend offers to help me, I resist. In fact, I won’t ask for help until I am desperate. “I’m not a beggar damnit!”
And when I do receive help, I try to get as much as I can out of the person as fast as I can because I know the second call won’t be free and I fear I won’t be able to afford them.
Or worse, I’ll pay them a bunch of money and my situation won’t change.
I’ll stay up until 2 am on modafinil-coffee cocktails to figure out how to re-build my own funnels, design my own graphics, write my own copy.
Because I don’t trust my subs to fix their own workand I’m not going to pay them twice.
I lost a friend over money he owed me, I lost another over money I owed him.
Another offered me $250k of his own cash for my portion of a deal. Offended, I refused because I insisted it was worth more. We stopped talking after that and 2 years later, I sold the deal and lost $15kAt least he didn’t make anything either
When my dad was dying, I was in Oklahoma with my contracting company and a team of friends that drove up or flew in to help me. Some of them made money, I didn’t. And when dad died, I was in Orlando selling t-shirts for my apparel line.
In total I ended up having to get a loan to make ends meet that summer, and I missed the last weeks of my father’s life.
One month, I made $140k in the stock market. Every day, I was so stressed out that I was going to lose the money. I eventually had to see a doctor because of heart arrhythmia’s. I was 26.
It didn’t take long before I lost the whole $140k + $120k of principle. Most of that principle was what I inherited when dad died. It took me 4 years to forgive myself.
There are people I owe money to right now. There are people who owe me money right now. I’m not close with those people. And I don’t think it’s because of them.
I have made a lot of money for a kid who grew up in a town between two oil refineries. I’ve traveled, bought nice things, have a great home, luxury car, and my kids never want for anything. But to say that money has been good to me? That would be a lie.
More times than I can count, in my effort to make money my bitch, she made me hers.
And while there are moments when money flows abundantly, I’m not grateful, I feel I deserve it. And when the money flow slows, I look for someone or something else to blame. Bad advice, subprime mortgages, or the universe trying to teach me something.
My self-worth as a human being is defined by my checking account, my net worth, and how easily I can spend or give away the money I have. Rarely giving it away without ulterior motives.
So when did it all begin? Why does money torture me both when I have it and when it’s elusive?
I honestly don’t know.
My grandad wasthe millionaire-next-door type, we would go to a buffet and he’d tell us to eat past stuffed so we could get a few extra hours of energy out of a single meal. (Most of my family is obese.)
He would then steal pepper from the table so that they didn’t have to buy any for home. Every piece of paper printed or received in the mail that didn’t have print on the back, would be turned over and cut into little squares for scratch.
When he took me to the grocery store, my grandfather would eat by the pound grapesbefore we reached checkout. No-doubt he had a Great Depression scarcity mindsetbut mindsets can be inherited.
My dad constantly barked about the cost of the air conditioner, and leaving lights on in the house. The phrase “we can’t afford it” still rings in my ears.
When I got picked up from school, it was in a crappy old Astro van, and we would dumpster dive for scrap wood for the fireplace during Christmas. All the while, my family had more than enough money for a nicer house, car, and frickin’ firewood.
It made no sense to mewhy money had to be so tight
I always had a taste for the finer things, If I wanted nicer stuff for myself, I could have just about anything I wanted (Jordan’s, Hilfiger slacks, Nike track suits, Nintendo 64, Etc).
A combination of working at dad’s shop, mowing the lawn, washing cars and being enterprising (I imported hacky sacks and yo-yos from China and sold them to fellow 7th graders), I always got what I wanted. And, if I didn’t have the savings, dad was an open-window loan for just about anything.
Then there was church. Oh, chirchianity!
I was told that loving money was evil. But the people who said that we’re broke and usually handing me, an 8 year old, an offering plate to put what little I had in there. (Train up a child indeed.) Wrapping up in the mixed messages at home of scarcity and materialism, I had preachers telling me that God would bless me with cash if I was good but that I wasn’t to love the money that I was being blessed with and that I had to give 10%+ of it to them if I wanted more. But I wasn’t supposed to want it. But I needed to titheor it would go away. But I wasn’t supposed to care if it went away. Confused? I sure was
Dad said to make sure to get a receipt for tithe so I could reduce my taxes
I was 8 years old
I was taught that Jesus spoke about money more than anything else because money is important.
I was taught that homeless people were lazy or frauds. Welfare recipients were the same. Taxation was theft, so cheating on taxes was acceptable. People who make more money are better
and to be commended and learned from.
Broke people are people too, but there is nothing to learn from dirty hippies and monks. Get what you can, where you can, as often as you can. Don’t steal, or defraud, or cheat but go as close to the line as you can because that’s there the money is.
Whether this was intended or not, it is the money operating system I had installed as a kid.
In 2008, I lost everything. Millions of dollars of property, over a million of equity, and, with it, an identity.
For years I would blame the government (convenient) and I joined a movement of self-identified victims screaming about injustice. Many of whom had given up on hope and most of whom never really tried to begin with.
Even to this day, I am defined by that loss. I’m defined by my money. I wake up in the morning thinking about money, when I shower I think about money, when I play with my girls, make love to my wife, and when I lie down at night, it is always on my mind.
Like a lover. An obsession. A muse. I love money.
And the more I love her, the more I’m in pain.
“The love of money is the root of all evil.”
I used to think Jesus was talking about evil people and evil deeds done in the pursuit of wealthI though that He meant to steer clear from evil and I could have all the money I wanted.
I thought this was about how loving money would drive you to hurt others. Of course I thought that. I’m Western. I frame everything in external cause and effect.
Now I realize the internal truth, what He really meant:
“The love of money is the root of all pain.”
Thank you for reading this. It was cathartic to write and the result of a new commitment to let go of my money obsession and give abundantly.