EDITOR’S NOTE (for MoneySense Magazine’s Mar-April 2009 Issue)
True Financial Freedom
This is the 14th issue of MoneySense and we’ve always written about ways to earn, save, spend, invest, and protect your money. There are lots of stuff on stocks, mutual funds, loans, bank deposits, insurance, and all sorts of financial products and services. But there’s more to personal finance than technical know-how. You see, managing our money has a lot to do with our attitudes and behavior. Financial freedom is more than having a net worth and cash flow that allows you to make working optional. It’s also about being freed from the bondages of materialism. Let me share you seven contrasting traits that I hope you reflect on during the summer or Holy Week:
1. Pride vs. Humility. Do you know why we make so many stupid mistakes with money? It’s because we think we own everything we have and deserve to do whatever we want with what we earn. That’s pride, my friends. If you have faith in a higher power, you would realize you are just a manager, not an owner. And it takes a humble heart to acknowledge that.
2. Recklessness vs. Stewardship. If you see yourself as the center of your universe, then don’t be surprised if you blow your money in accumulating useless stuff or getting into scams. But if you believe you are accountable to what you have, then you will strive to be a better steward of the resources entrusted to you.
3. Anxiety vs. Faith. Money is one of the major things that we worry about. And that’s understandable. For many of us, money doesn’t grow on trees. If it’s all up to us, I’d certainly be worried. I don’t know what you think in but I personally believe in a God that cares for my needs and who promised to supply them. I have had a number of occasions where my faith regarding finances was tested. And you know what? I believe even more.
4. Greed vs. Contentment. You know it doesn’t matter how much money you have because someone has more. Even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet compete constantly for the top spot of the world’s richest people. Regardless of your faith or religion, scientists and researchers have come up with solid studies that the key to financial bliss is contentment. The problem is our human nature – we just want more and more. We have to learn to realize we have more than enough.
5. Envy vs. Gratitude. Studies have also shown that we get miserable when we compare ourselves against our peers, even if we are doing quite well on our own. That’s how strange we are. I sometimes fall into this trap myself. The antidote: start being thankful for your blessings. Maybe write daily gratitude journal.
6. Poverty vs. Prosperity. There are two extremes to avoid. One is to have a poverty mentality – always fearing we’ll run of money, that this is already our lot in life, or that we don’t deserve to enjoy good things. The other is believing in a prosperity gospel – that life is all about blessings and that God wants all of us to be multi-millionaires. We have to strike a balance: yes, God wants to prosper us (and that often means our overall well-being, not strictly financial), but wealth is not our sole purpose in life.
7. Greed vs. Generosity. It’s a little surprising to know that the Bible has more verses about money than any other topic! And many of them are warnings about holding too much on material wealth that money becomes our idol. Money really strikes at the core of what we value most in life. Material blessings are not to be hoarded but shared.
These are gentle reminders that all of us should think about whenever the subject of money comes up. When we get a better grasp of the why’s of money, the how-to’s are easier to follow.
HEINZ G. BULOS