Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich
For most of my life I have had a dysfunctional relationship with money. To be honest, I hated it. I hated that it existed, that I needed it and if I didn’t have it, I was anxious, stressed or depressed. At a young age, I had convinced myself that I was going to be a “starving artist”.
Yeah… lofty goals at a young age.
I didn’t exactly excel at school aside from art class, so it seemed like the only probable option. At the end of the day, it was just an easy out, an excuse I used to support my lack of success in school. I was my own enemy and the fault bore down on me. There’s a quote in Jen Sincero’s inspiring book You are a Badass: “It not your fault that you are fucked up. It’s your fault if you stay fucked up.” I could blame the school system, sure, but ultimately, I had to take responsibility.
With this attitude fully locked into my mind, I slowly discovered the reality that it wasn’t a romantic bohemian lifestyle that lay before me. No shared apartment in Paris with other artists, giving the middle finger to the bourgeois class while sipping cheap wine. I wasn’t shaking up in a tiny studio apartment at the Chelsey in New York, living off leftovers from the restaurant down the block.
I was living a suburban life with kids and responsibilities. My attitude about money had no place in this reality. But I continued to distain money and all that it represented. Why? Because money is dirty. People who are rich are unethical, untrustworthy and gross. An opinion that I had created that forced its way into my reality. I fought the need and desire for money for years and it didn’t serve me. It was destructive and selfish.
So why did I feel this way? Why was I so stubborn? I still don’t have an answer. Then two events forced me to reevaluate. The first was that I had so badly managed the finances at home that I found myself collecting bottles from the garage to get the change to buy some milk. Keep in mind, my wife at the time made a good salary, I had just mismanaged it. We lived in a good sized home with all of the latest “stuff”. I drove a nice car. So what the hell was I doing scrounging money to buy milk? I could have made more money and better run the finances but my attitude towards money held me back.
The second incident came from a comment my sister made during a Sunday dinner. “Why aren’t you a millionaire?” she innocently asked. It didn’t sink in at first but I found it spinning in my head. Why wasn’t I millionaire? I had to admit that there was some reality there. I’m not saying I’d be swimming in riches, but definitely better than where I was. Was I the one responsible? How will I fix it?
Money is one of those things, like mental health, that you struggle with on your own. You don’t want to talk about it. You hide under the sheets like a scared child hoping that the sock eating, foot grabbing monster under the bed will go away. The monster will but the money situation only gets worse. People not knowing or not wanting to know how to fix themselves is the reason that we have PayDay Loans and the like. So, I struggled and didn’t ask for help.
Money can occupy a major part of our monster. It certainly did for me.
The change finally happened when I purchased a copy of You are a Badass by Jen Sincero and then her follow up You are a Badass at Making Money. I don’t want to be cliché, but Jen changed my life. Reading these books changed EVERYTHING. I found someone who had the same relationship with money. Someone I could identify with.
Basically, we need to change our way of thinking. The way we think about money and the world around us. For me, I stopped applying emotion to money or the people who had it. Money is inert. Paper and ink. It’s that simple. I needed to think about what having money would give to me, not what it would take away. Money provides opportunity and freedom to explore our true self. It’s what we do with money that makes a difference. Travel, education, charitable donations – turns out it can actually have the opposite effect than what I was associating it with. Money doesn't make you an asshole, thinking everyone with money is an asshole does.
You have talents and abilities that can attract money. Money that you can use to make some good in this world. There are religions that preach not using your talents to their full potential is a mortal sin. For me it was selfish. I was an asshole about money. You don’t have to be.