“I’ve always been rich, and I’ve never been happy.”
“I’ve always been poor, and I’ve usually been happy.”
“Rubbish! I’ve ALWAYS been rich, and I’ve ALWAYS been happy.”
- A frank exchange from the 1981 film “Arthur”
When we are young, our relationship with money is quite indirect, as our parents try to provide for our needs and desires. As we grow older and become increasingly self-sufficient, we engage directly with money and learn its impact on our life. Usually it is then that the question arises in us, about money in relationship to happiness – a question that is at its core one of spirituality.
The songs have a lot to say about it:
“Can’t buy me love…”
“The boy with the cold hard cash is always Mr. Right…”
“Money makes the world go around…”
“A woman would sell her precious body for the lean… mean green.”
What is it about money that has been so difficult to reconcile with spirituality through the ages? What makes cash “cold” and “hard?” What makes this green “mean?”
Like anything else in life – body, soul, love, sunlight, food – money is energy. It can flow freely or get stuck. It can be used to get by, to build, to bring together, or too often, to divide.
The spiritual sticking point is not the actual currency, but our relationship with money: how we perceive it, seek it, hoard it, fear it, use or abuse it.
Our financial health – just as our physical, emotional and psychological health – must be aligned to our beliefs if we are to enjoy peace of mind and live out a holistic spirituality. In the end, financial health is not only about prosperity or security – it is about relationship: right relationship with people, entities and money. Ultimately, it is about honesty.
We have to be who we are. Take our losses. Cut our losses. Get away from all creditors. Imagine that!
I have been approached by readers and listeners with various thoughts on money. People have shared about their "healing around money," and how things have "become cleaner with God." Readers have used words like "integrity" and "restoration" in speaking of their renewed relationship with money. And a lot of this is around debt.
One reader from Oregon sent this revealing statement by e-mail: “The more I look at it, debt is not of God. I think it has kept me from God because I have worshiped (or worried about) money to make me okay..."
In the end, the most frequent question I have received is this one: "How do I get out of debt?"
I know this is an achingly painful time in our economy, and circumstances can be very different from person to person; that is, if you are in foreclosure, who cares about your credit cards? But if you are in a position to become stronger in this fragile economy, the simplest advice I can give is this:
- Adopt an attitude of confidence and adventure about your debt. Banish fear, especially your fear of credit reporting agencies. Own up to the fears, motives or youthful illusions that got you into the debt. We have all had them. Hating yourself for your debt will not help matters. Accept this as part of your journey. Then you can look at your finances with cutting honesty.
- Speaking of cutting, start with your credit cards. I am very serious. Revolving debt is death. You can live just fine without them. Better, even. Get the scissors.
- Rather than paying the minimum amount due on your credit cards, or even twice that amount (as expert Suze Orrman suggests), start to think in terms of paying them OFF. When you get a raise, a bonus, a tax refund, put it entirely to your debt. Don't feel bad that you didn't "treat" yourself to a new dress or dinner out. You are treating yourself to FREEDOM.
- Debt consolidation is a short-term solution. Long-term, it is the same as any revolving debt: paying small amounts each month on a large debt that continues to accrue interest. If your income has decreased somehow, use this option in a crisis, but move out of it as soon as your circumstances change. Hopefully that will be soon.
- Think like partners. If you have a spouse or significant other, schedule a weekly financial meeting in which you review income and out-go. Look at all your resources and debts and decide together which debts should be targeted and in what order. One by one, eliminate them by guilt-free teamwork (no blame-shooting), and you will become a stronger couple for it.
Further, I use the word "target," above, as in the bulls-eye image in archery. Emotionally, this 'process of elimination' can become fun, like a sport, for you. As with any spiritual discipline, you must be committed. Stay focused, and you will be victorious.
Money is a tool in this world. Even though a powerful one, it does not in itself bring happiness or fulfillment or peace. That will come from the choices you make in life, the fruit of your experiences, and the lessons you are able to learn.
The mark of success is in your learning.
That will make you rich.
Copyright © Caer HallundbaekGodspeed Institute