Have you ever been told in an irritated voice by one or both of your parents “Money doesn’t grow on Trees you know!” or “What, do you think money grows on trees?” or sarcastically “Let me just go to my money tree and get that for you.”?
I know I have heard more than one of these iterations when I was growing up, and silently to myself I would think, “Well technically it does, since it’s made out of paper.” Ha ha, ya, that would have gone over like a lead balloon if I had said it out loud. This memory came to me while I was reading the first Chapter of “Money: A Love Story” by Kate Northrup. In it she talks about how money doesn’t actually exist. In 3000 BC Mesopotamia, humans needed a system of exchange to keep track of their valuables and thus the word “Money” was invented and used as a representative word for the value of things. So we as humans made up this system of currency and have since let it evolve to its current state of using pieces of plastic and paper to represent something that has an enormous impact on our daily lives.
Reliving my memory of the Money Tree reminded me that even when I was young I knew that money itself was made out of paper or metals that didn’t hold intrinsic value. I also recognized that it does however hold emotional, mental and psychological value as I had witnessed both my parents stress out over money when there wasn’t enough to buy food or pay back debt and then also breathe a sigh of relief when the cash flow was better.
For most of us today money is less about the physical paper and coins and more about intangible numbers floating through the ethers of our online bank accounts and investment firms, or the numbers in our head as we mentally keep track of how much we have and how much we have spent with our plastic rectangles. This could be one reason why keeping track of where our money goes can feel impossible; money has become an even more elusive and untouchable thing since we started using online banking and debit cards to conduct all of our transactions.
So, if money is a made up concept, then it seems evident that we can “make up” more of it when we need it right? If we created money and its value out of thin air, then we can by all rights, create more or less of it based on our beliefs and desires. Right?
How does this concept feel to you? I know a statement like this will make some people feel very angry, “IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE!” they will scream, or “That’s a nice fairy tale but back here in the real world where people have real problems…”.
That is exactly why I am bringing it up. In order to heal our relationship with money and learn to love it we have to first examine our current relationship with money. We need to honestly feel and understand all the beliefs that we have accepted as our truths about money throughout our lives.
Please take a few minutes to share your truths about money and what it means to you.