Blog | Personal Finance

Why You Need Money to Live a Full Life

The necessity of knowing what you believe about money and what's important in life

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Growing up, I had two influences in my life who shaped my views on money.

My poor dad, my natural dad, didn’t think money was important. He valued the traditional things most people value, a good education, security, a nice home, a modest life.

My rich dad, my best friend’s dad, believed money was immensely important. He felt that all the things he held most dear in life would not be possible if he didn’t have money.

As a kid, I had to take both these views into account in order to decide what I believed about money. The thing is most people never even go this far. They simply blindly believe whatever they are taught about money, or they rebel against what they were taught.

So, rich kids might deny the value of money and try to live a life of poverty. And poor kids might hate the fact they grew up with money and make it the most important thing in their life.

My rich dad taught me there were always two sides to a coin, and that’s where most people stop. But, he told me, there is another side to a coin that most people don’t pay attention to. It’s the side of the coin. Most often the truth is not found on one side of the coin or the other, but instead it is found on the edge...the point between points.

What do you believe about money? Do you need it?

Most people don't take the time to sit down and understand what they really believe about money. For some, money is the root of all evil, to be avoided at all cost, not talked about, and demonized. People who make money are the enemy. It's the rich against the poor.

For others, money is everything. They'll sacrifice friends, family, and integrity to get it. It's a dog-eat-dog world.

For others still, money is merely a tool.

For better or for worse, our understanding of money often shapes our life. And our understanding of money is often something that is passed down to us from a young age, received without a critical eye, and lived out in unseen ways. Because of this, money often rules us in ways we can't understand, because we don't truly understand money and the way in which it works.

So, if you want to live a rich and full life, one of the most important things you can do is to actually define for yourself what you believe about money and to order your life appropriately. It doesn’t matter what the answer is for you (I believe money is very important and will say why later in this article), but what is most important is defining what you believe about money and understanding why you believe that.

Money is evil and you don’t need it?

My poor dad had a strong belief that the love of money was evil and that excessive profit meant you were greedy.

As the head of the Hawaii school system, he felt embarrassed when newspapers published how much he made because he felt overcompensated in comparison to the teachers who worked for him. He was a good, honest, hardworking man who did his best to defend his point of view that money wasn't important in life.

My highly-educated, yet poor, dad constantly said:

  • "I'm not that interested in money."

  • "I'll never be rich."

  • "I can't afford it."

  • "Investing is risky."

  • "Money isn't everything."

Because my poor dad didn’t believe money was a good thing, he never took the time to learn about money or how to use it. Unfortunately, when he was older and had lost his government job, he tried to make ends meet with some bad investments. On his deathbed, my dad lamented that he had nothing left to give his children. We were all fine financially and tried to ease his mind, but his regrets were strong and hard to overcome.

You need money...if you view it as a tool

On one hand, my poor dad was right about money. There are many people in the world who make it the most important thing in the world. They’ll sacrifice almost anything, friends, family, integrity, to get it. Unfortunately, my poor dad viewed anyone who was rich in this way. I knew from experience, this was not true. I still do.

My rich dad had a different point of view. He thought it's foolish to spend your life working for money and to pretend that money wasn't important. Rich dad believed that life was more important than money, but that money was important for supporting the life you want.

He often said, "You only have so many hours in a day, and you can only work so hard. So, why work hard for money? Learn to have money and people work hard for you and you can be free to do the things that are important."

To my rich dad, what was important was:

  • Having lots of time to raise his kids

  • Having money to donate to charities and projects he supported

  • Bringing jobs and financial stability to the community

  • Having time and money to take care of his health

  • Being able to travel the world with his family

Those things take money," said rich dad. "That's why money is important to me. Money is important, but I don't want to spend my life working for it."

I think one of the reasons my poor dad felt so bad about having nothing to leave us was that he really wanted to make up for the lost time he had with us because he worked so hard. He valued the same things my rich dad did, but he was never financially free enough to enjoy them to the fullest like my rich dad did.

The truth is that enjoying whatever is important to you means you need money

Most people find the same things to be important that my rich dad did. I know my poor dad did.

The problem for my poor dad, however, was that his attitude towards money kept him poor. And because he was poor, he didn't have the ability to fully do the things that were important to him.

The truth is that money isn't everything, but it does help us do everything we love.

So, what's important to you? Are you freely able to do the things you love? Or are financial struggles holding you back?

And how do you view money? Is it evil or is it a tool to help you do what's important?

How you answer that question changes everything.

Need help answering that question? Join others in our free, financial education community here to help you answer that very important question.

Original publish date: May 07, 2013

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