Why Your Emotions Can Be Hazardous To Your Wealth

Economists refer to money as anything which has an agreed upon value that can be exchanged for goods and services. The value of money is not constant, however. The buyer and seller have to agree on it's worth, usually based on supply and demand. For example, at one time you could buy a gallon of gasoline for about twenty-five cents. Today however, gasoline hovers around $3.00. In Europe it sells for four or five dollars. The difference is primarily due to the greater demand. Today there are millions more cars on the road and fewer sources of oil. Merchants frequently put their products on sale. It's not out of the goodness of their hearts, but attempts to lure more customers into their stores, hopefully to buy merchandise not on sale. Inflation is a major cause of deflating the value of your money. But that's another story. Today we think of money as pieces of metal, paper or plastic. In more primitive societies it has taken the form of animal skins, feathers or beads. On the island of Yap in the Pacific, natives use rocks as a medium of exchange. This a cumbersome system of trade. How many bushels of feathers does it take to purchase one cow? Or how do you store ten pounds of rocks in a bank? With the advent of paper money, the barter system has become almost extinct in the modern world. You can carry a bundle of money in your pocket, put it in the bank or buy groceries with it. Over generations, many notables have addressed the value of money. The ancient dramatist Sophocles stated, " For money you would sell your soul." The German poet Heinrich Heims claimed, "Money is the god of our time." And George Bernard Shaw called it "The most important thing in the world." But what is money worth to you? Most of us find money necessary. We work for it, spend it, save it, invest it, and some even gamble it. Some love it or hate it, or even risk going to jail for it. A few have so much they take it for granted. Even fewer, like Mother Teresa have little interest in it. But there is the other side of the coin. The value you attribute to money is enmeshed in your personality. Whether you see money as the root of all evil or the solution to all your problems, it reflects something you learned in the past that made a significant impression on you. Or perhaps you imitate someone who was very important to you, whether a good or a bad influence. For example, if you feel guilty about spending money on yourself, you probably feel guilty about accepting praise or compliments, enjoying sex or winning a race. Somewhere in your past you were taught that self-indulgence was bad and it applies to your view of money and other aspects of your personality. Most people have some fantasy about getting rich and how it would change their lives. Many hope to acquire millions the quick and easy way by buying lottery tickets or falling for get-rich-quick schemes. Others, with a different personality make-up, strive to become rich the hard way. They are willing to work long hours, make sacrifices and turn a hotdog stand into a chain of profitable restaurants. Hundreds of authors have made fortunes by writing books about how to get rich, which are eagerly bought by millions who seek to vastly improve their finances Few, however, point out that greed, fear and other emotions can be hazardous to your wealth. Copyright 2006 Robert T. Lewis