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Money Lies And The Devil

by J. Money on Wednesday, January 9, 2013

money lies

My friend Serena recently came out with a new blog about “getting your life straight” (so new, in fact, that there’s only 2 posts on it!), but her 2nd post really hit the nail on the head: Lying to ourselves about our money.

Here were the top 5 lies she pointed out:

  1. Charging something now telling yourself you’ll pay it later when you get paid (AGREE)
  2. Wanting something for so long that you just “had” to buy it when it went on sale (KINDA AGREE)
  3. Telling yourself your $5,000 credit card debt is fine because others have $30,000+! (AGREE!!!)
  4. Telling yourself it’s all okay because you’re not spending it on “frivolous stuff” (AGREE)
  5. Believing your paycheck isn’t enough (KINDA AGREE)

All things we lie about because we’re both fearful AND lazy in her opinion. And for the most part I’ll agree (I can never fully agree just ‘cuz there are always exceptions to the rule, but overall yes – most of “these people” need to be better about coming clean to themselves).

It also reminded me of another thing I hear allllllll the time which I find to be pretty similar:

“You shouldn’t want more money because it’s greedy”

Now there *are* a subset of people who truly believe they don’t want any more money whether they understand why or not, but unless you’re Bill Gates or Warren Buffet (who DO want more money, btw, because they know of the good that can come of it!), I don’t believe people who say they don’t want any more money because of the greed factor. They may not NEED any more money and are quite content with their lives, which is totally understandable AND admirable btw, but that’s completely different than WANTING more money. Which to me shouldn’t make us horrible people by default.

In fact, that’s the #1 excuse I always hear: Money’s the devil’s work. Usually in a “high and mighty” tone too, as if to look down upon those of us who desire more as if it makes us really bad people or something (not realizing that looking down on people in itself is bad!). Of course there will always be people who use it for negative stuff and/or completely for themselves (not saying that’s all the way bad either, as most of us here would certainly do that! I most definitely do!), but it doesn’t mean you can’t use money for “good” too… It’s not like everyone’s a Dr. Evil ;)

Money has TONS of potential even if you never spend a dime on yourself:

  1. You can help the less fortunate
  2. You can help your friends
  3. You can help your family
  4. You can help your future kids, grand kids, great grand kids
  5. You can help someone adopt
  6. You can help someone rescue a pet
  7. You can start a foundation
  8. You can quit your job and VOLUNTEER 40 hours a week
  9. You can invest it and make a million dollars and THEN give it away or quit your job and volunteer
  10. You can get rid of stress and help yourself live longer and be there for all your loved ones!

And on and on and on. In other words – money does not automatically equate to evilness. It’s the *PERSON* who receives more money that has total control of how that money’s spent – not the money itself. People who say otherwise (that money = evil) don’t give the rest of us much credit. Or maybe they’re just too lazy to go out and find a way to make more at the end of the day themselves! Reminds me a lot more of those excuses Serena pointed out above, doesn’t it? ;)

And I should know as I totally used to be that way too.

Whenever I got jealous of others getting these huge promotions or raises/etc, I’d just tell myself I didn’t want the money anyways to help myself feel better. Which of course works to a degree, but deep down we all know that’s not the truth. We DO want more for whatever dreams/goals we may have (or why even work to begin with??), but unfortunately we have to WORK EVEN HARDER in order to achieve it. It’s not like winning the lottery is the only way to come up with tons of extra money or anything, and even in those cases the winners had to at least go out and BUY the tickets! They didn’t sit on their asses and just pray for it – that came after ;)

Anyways, all this to say that wanting more money isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can do both good and evil with it, but at the end of the day YOU choose where it all goes. If you truly don’t want any more because you’re completely content with your life, more power to you. But for the majority of us, we need to keep it real and understand that getting more money IS an option as long as we’re willing to go out and fight for it. Lying about it only hurts our own potential.

Agree? Disagree? Too harsh? ;)

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Photo by ktylerconk, edited by J$

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lance @ Money Life and More January 9, 2013 at 7:17 am

I personally think anyone that says wanting money is the devil either had a REALLY bad experience with money corrupting someone or just doesn’t want to work to get what they want so they use it as an excuse.

People who win the lottery and go bankrupt may say wanting more money is evil because it changed their lives horribly and I can understand that, but money wasn’t the devil, how they managed it was.

I’d say 95% of the time wanting more money is just normal. Like you said, money itself is not evil, it is the person who wants it that can make it that way.

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2 Miss Britt January 9, 2013 at 7:40 am

I think the trick is striking that balance between not needing any more money to be happy, but totally being OK with the idea of wanting more. It’s hard for that want not to cross over into what feels like a need, though, which is a big reason I think some people just try not to go there. (OK, why *I* try not to go there!)

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3 Elle January 9, 2013 at 7:56 am

Everything in balance. Wanting more money in itself is not a problem, it’s how you go about it and how you use it that says something about your character. Like you pointed out, there are so many good uses of money.

Money is a usually a tool for something that we want. Talking about WHY we want more money can actually help us find out what route we need to go. For example, perhaps someone wants to earn more money so they can see the world and learn about different cultures firsthand. Chris Guillbeau travels the world for less than a typical person may imagine. Putting out the reason can help someone find a mentor for what they really want to do.

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4 Financial Black Sheep January 9, 2013 at 8:07 am

There was a debate on Ted.com about money being the root of all evil. Basically money was first thought of as evil, because it was believed that scheming and lying caused the want of money. Since humans put value on an object like cash, it cannot be evil because it is just an instrument used. That’s like saying a car is evil because of a car accident. The person either makes it evil or not, the money cannot.

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5 Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies January 9, 2013 at 8:27 am

I think money often bestows power – which can magnify tendencies inherent in people. But I definitely don’t think it’s evil. It’s just a tool. It’s like saying a hammer is evil.

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6 Serena @ Get Your Life Straight January 9, 2013 at 9:14 am

First off– SO GLAD my ‘lil ‘ole new blog, Get Your LIfe Straight, could be the inspiration for this post! Thanks for the link luv. ;-)

In addition to the lies that I have told myself, as stated in my post and above, I have lied to myself in the past that it was wrong to want more money. I never said it was EVIL, per se, but yeah, because of how I grew up, I thought that wanting more was greedy. I thought that I should “be happy with what I had.”

I still think that I should be happy with what I have, but now, as adult, it doesn’t mean that I can’t acquire more. It doesn’t mean I am greedy or spoiled. And I know it’s okay to have goals and dreams, and money is usually a necessary vessle for those goals and dreams.
Great post!

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7 Cat January 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

@ Elle “Money is a usually a tool for something that we want.” – I agree.

I constantly feel like I want more money because I skimp on so many things I want. I want to develop my career, but I can’t (or maybe I’m lying to myself), because I constantly have to take positions I don’t want and can’t accept a lower paying offer to learn valuable information or I won’t be able to afford the roof over my head. And trust me, the roof is really modest, and my car is old, and I am not living in luxury. I’ve tried to cut out everything possible!

But it goes back to Elle’s comment, there are so many things that I want, and those wants could potentially make me happy. I want to work for a non-profit. I want to have time to jog and be healthy, and having more money would give me the leverage of cutting a day off my work week to volunteer, or to learn… etc.

I run in circles with this idea all the time, feeling guilty and greedy for wanting more because people tell me I should be happy with what I have.

Where do you draw the line? When do you need to stop searching and start accepting?

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8 Grayson @ Debt Roundup January 9, 2013 at 9:48 am

I am on board with this post. Money is not evil, but intentions are. Money doesn’t make you evil, but just brings out your true self and exposes it. Our society rewards those with money along with using money as a reward. I always strive to make more money, but I don’t go around taunting people when I have more. I enjoyed your money potential list, it was great!

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9 Manette @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance January 9, 2013 at 9:51 am

As the Bible says, it is not money that is the root of all evil but the love for money. As you have explained, there are many ways that we can use money make it beneficial to everybody.

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10 AverageJoe January 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

Amen, brother. Someone using their money to build a company is the reason why most people have a job. It takes money to build community centers, walking trails and schools.

It also takes money to build doughnut shops, which are clearly the work of some higher, glorious power.

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11 SavvyFinancialLatina January 9, 2013 at 10:11 am

I know a lot of people that feel like money is the root of evil. I grew up Catholic after all. Except I always saw discrimination, and felt like the people that had money always wanted to keep the people without money down. :(

I do want more money. Why? So I can develop passive income, travel, help family, and ultimately free myself from wondering how we are going to pay off our bills. My husband has a buddy that is a trust fund kid. He lives life so carelessly, enjoys it, and is developing a business from his creative ideas. He doesn’t have to worry about his future. While I wouldn’t be careless if I won the lottery, I think having a peace of mind would allow me to be more free. It would lift a weight off my shoulder that I carry.

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12 Budget & the Beach January 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

I don’t think money is the devil at all and there is nothing wrong with wanting more (but be careful to make sure you do appreciate what you DO have already). I think if you are smart, there is so much good that can come from it.

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13 becca January 9, 2013 at 11:22 am

I think what indicates to me that *most* desire for money (my own included) is a bit suspect morally is that the desire seems intimately related to who we compare ourselves to.

There are some in this country (Bill Gates et al) who really have just mind boggling amounts of accumulated wealth. Practically, what this means for a typical person is that there will always be someone wealthier than you. So you can always drive yourself bonkers by wanting to have “as much security/freedom/power/good-doing potential” (or whatever you let money be a proxy for) as someone else. It’s generally a destructive course (though “evil” might be a tad melodramatic).

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14 Chris January 9, 2013 at 11:33 am

This post is reminiscent of the Francisco d’Anconia speech is Atlas Shrugged.

“So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”

Also, I see a lot of people using the same arguement as pro-rights gun owners. Money is a tool as is a gun, automobile, and hammer. How can an inanimate object be evil?

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15 Brian January 9, 2013 at 11:54 am

Whenever I have a review at work and we discuss salary, I always try to point out that I’m not being greedy, I just want to receive what is a fair value for my efforts. Then, once I get that raise, bonus, etc, I can use it for all of the good things. I won’t lie, when I got my first BIG raise, it completely changed my life. I didn’t have to worry about my student loans as much or groceries or anything. It got rid of my stress.

At the same time, there is something to be said about the way certain people go about trying to get more money. I will say this: greed in that fashion is bad. Pigs get fat but hogs get slaughtered. I don’t mind being a pig, so long as I don’t become a hog!

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16 Skint inthe City January 9, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Ha, I’m with you on the lies! And I’d have to add one – buying clothing/homeware you’re not sure of, telling yourself you can try it at home and return it for a refund if it doesn’t fit/suit. I tell myself all the time and yet a good 70% of the time I don’t return it out of laziness, missing the deadline etc. When will I ever learn?

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17 Jon B January 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I would have to concur with you J$, good post!

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18 The Happy Homeowner January 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Definitely in the camp of money not being evil but that intentions, emotions and behaviors can muck it all up. I’ve set 2013 goals around making more money–yes, I want it; but I’m going to EARN it! :)

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19 Emily January 9, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Thank you. I was recently labeled as “materialistic” on my health blog b/c I stated that to be truly healthy, you need to have money. Then when I replied that DH and I want to be able to help more with our favorite charities, the person emphasized even further how materialistic I was.

Whatever. Some people you just will never get through to, because they insist on being stuck in their narrow perspective.

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20 John S @ Frugal Rules January 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm

In two words…PREACH IT!

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21 Edward Antrobus January 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

That’s a good point. I believe the problem is that people only give half of the sentence. “I want more money” isn’t helpful and just sounds greedy. “I want more money to donate more” or “I want more money to be able to pay off my old debts” are not greedy at all.

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22 K January 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm

You have a good point. I think it honestly depends on the person. Someone could have a lot of money and use it for good. However, someone else could have a lot of money and be selfish with it. At the end, I honestly believe that you can never have enough money. You will always want more in life. But what would you do with more money in your life? Some would say shopping and some would pay off their student loans

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23 Leah January 9, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Wanting more money does not make you greedy, although greedy people tend to want more money.

Money is a tool to help facilitate things in your life. If you want more money, you often just want to facilitate more things in your life. An extreme example is, instead of sitting in your apartment eating pepperoni bites and watching TV, a person who wants more money wants to host a dinner party in his back yard for 10 of his closest friends, cooking organic grilled steak and discussing his upcoming trip to Argentina.

It’s not that the first person is holy and the second is greedy. It’s a matter of facilitating more activity, adventure, pleasure, experience, giving and even (the oft demonized) things into your life.

The greedy person is the one who desires money so that he can own extravagant things, hoard his wealth, gain status for no other purpose than appearances, and denies giving any benefits of his wealth to others. There’s a pretty fundamental difference between wanting money for the sake of benefiting your life and the life of others and being greedy.

Although people LOVE to look at others (specifically “rich” people) and call them greedy rather than looking at them in an effort to see how they can better their lives. It’s a strange form of envy. All of those mortal sins…

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24 debtgirl January 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I like to see people try to aspire for more, to be more and to do more, but I hate it when I see it being all about the all mighty dolla!

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25 KK @ Student Debt Survivor January 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Money doesn’t make people bad or evil and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting more money as long as you have good intentions for the money. What those “good intentions” are can be debated, but having money doesn’t make people good and vice versa.

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26 Brent Pittman January 9, 2013 at 9:22 pm

An evil person will be evil whether they are have a fat wallet or a an empty one.–though an evil person with a lot of money can make a much bigger sinister impact on the world and garner much media attention.

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27 Brian Fourman January 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Money is amoral – it is not good or evil. It’s a thing. When it is placed in the hands of a person, it then takes on life to be used for good or evil. Money becomes a vehicle we use to outwardly express, through our actions, the spiritual condition of our heart. Our use of it reveals who we truly are on the inside.

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28 maria@moneyprinciple January 10, 2013 at 5:16 am

J, this is such a helpful article; well done. It took me close to 20 years to figure out what you just told us – that money is not evil and that it gives us opportunities to do so much good on this planet dominated by neo-liberalism (withdrawal of the state from the support of people who really need it). This realisation made me focus with such determination on becoming wealthy (which includes a very strong moral element to it) rather than simply being rich. Thanks for reminding us all that money is to sustain life and not only ours at that.

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29 J. Money January 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Woo! Look at all those agreeing with me! That’s a nice feeling to have every now and then ;) Especially as I tend to be up to some borderline stuff lately, haha…

A few comments… Okay, a LOT of comments:

@Lance @ Money Life and More – That’s a good point actually, hadn’t thought about their history with money – it very well could be influencing their thoughts w/ it all!

@Miss Britt – Agreed :) Along with *appreciating* what we have vs. what we want too. Always good to stay away from the extremes.

@Elle – Funny you should say that, actually, I just got a guest post sent to me on the “Whys” about money and it being a tool! Haha… greta minds :) I’ll probably post it up within the next few weeks so stay tuned!

@Financial Black Sheep – I like that :)

@Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies – Oh yeah. Same with alcohol too! The more you get the more your personality/trueness shines ;)

@Serena @ Get Your Life Straight – Thank YOU for the inspiration!! Not only with this post, but also with our recent talks behind the scenes :) It’s always nice to reconnect with people you like and get motivated to keep rocking things out. You’re a special one.

@Cat – Yeah, I dunno… maybe we need to be old to finally find that line? Haha… It seems to me most of those who are quite content all around have a few years on them :) But I say we keep on trying to figure it out sooner than later! And at least we know it’s possible :)

@Grayson @ Debt Roundup – Hah! That’s true actually – the world DOES reward us with money! Never thought of it that way before.

@Manette @ Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance – Good refresher :) And reminds me again to not love money TOO much as I tend to get carried away on tha path too, haha… all in moderation!

@AverageJoe – Haha, indeed good sir. Indeed.

@SavvyFinancialLatina – “Except I always saw discrimination, and felt like the people that had money always wanted to keep the people without money down. :(” Yup! Same here… And I’m also raised Catholic and still attend religiously (no pun intended). Though it seems that some perishes are better at this kinda of stuff than others. The one I was raised in always seemed to look down on others and make you feel like crap, while the one I’m at now still preaches good morals/etc/etc, but they do so in a more positive tone. Which helps us WANT to be better people :) Either way though, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more money, haha…

@Budget & the Beach – Agreed. It’s always important to be happy with what you’ve got, whether you want more or not :)

@becca – Yup! Though some compitition/goal-striving is always good of course :) Just gotta keep things from getting out of hand!

@Chris – Funny you should mention that. I literally had a line about how it’s similar to gun stuff but didn’t want to get politics involved here, especially as I’m not sure which side I strongly believe in anyways, haha… but there’s def. a correlation there! :) And cool about Atlas Shrugged – I didn’t know that.

@Brian – Haha, nice… And I like that mentality too (and saying it out loud even!) during job reviews – that’s awesome. And really helps set the tone of the convo too I’m sure. Good one.

@Skint inthe City – YES!!!! And you better get better about it! ;) I return 95% of my stuff (a trick is throwing it into your trunk w/ receipt so you’ll always have it with you the next time you happen to get to the store and/or remember), with the other 5% being those I still want to try and use later on the off chance it becomes a “favorite” of mine… Especially with styles I’d normally not wear but trying to expand my horizons more… You’ll find a nice middle ground soon, I’m sure :)

@Jon B – Thank you for saying so!

@The Happy Homeowner – There you go!! That’s important too! No shame in working your little patukis off to reap the rewards, go you!

@Emily – Yuck!! It seems someone is riding on a real high horse there enjoying taking someone down… Not a very nice place to be – sucks for them! ;)

@John S @ Frugal Rules – In two words: THANK YOU! :)

@Edward Antrobus – True true, good point my friend… our brains DO tend to put things into a certain box once they hear that phrase, even if there’s more too it that they choose not to listen to :)

@K – Yep! And I don’t think that constantly wanting more is necessarily that bad either – you have to have dreams/goals to always accomplish or you get complacent which leads to a mess of other problems as well. Both professinally and personally.

@Leah – Haha yep! Like people bashing Mitt Romney just because of his success and wealth – it’s not like he just woke up and had it all out of nowhere, he worked his a$$ off and is brilliant at business! Regardless of his politics or other traits he may or may not have. It’s a lot easier to get jealour or write someone off to feel good about yourself than to admit it’s okay or do-able. That changes the whole game.

@debtgirl – I liked the first part of your sentence, but not sure about the second part yet, haha… I guess it just depends on where that money’s going and the intentions/etc – not that it’s any of my business what other people do or don’t do :)

@KK @ Student Debt Survivor – Yup! You got it.

@Brent Pittman – Oh yeah!! Ain’t that the truth!

@Brian Fourman – Nice use of amoral – hadn’t heard that one in a while :)

@maria@moneyprinciple – Yayyyy! No problem! It feels good for MYSELF to put this out there too, believe me… Like I’m standing up for what I believe in after all this time of people trying to take others down. I’m glad this resonated with you :)

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30 Shannon January 11, 2013 at 2:49 pm

The original line was not “Money is the root of all evil.” but rather “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.”

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31 Jeremy Jameson January 12, 2013 at 10:20 pm

As others have commented, it’s the love of money that is evil – not money itself. When one fully understands that money is a useful tool and nothing more – putting it in its proper place by not prioritizing it over more important things in life like people – balance can be achieved.

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32 J. Money January 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

Amen amen!

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