A couple of weeks ago I was getting some Hawaiian food with some coworkers when I got an exciting notification. It was from Paypal, letting me know I had received payment for some freelance writing I was doing.
I excitedly talked about how my side gigs were going, grateful for coworkers who understood the importance of building income streams outside of the 9–5 grind.
It was, after all, one of these coworkers that got me into the whole idea of having a lot of “irons in the fire” in the first place.
I casually said that I had received $200 and the other coworker said I was weird for talking about money so openly. He’s a funny guy, and always likes to joke with people, so I shrugged it off.
After realizing that he was only half joking, but not in an “I hate you for it” kind of way, I thought that maybe I am a little weird for being so open about money.
This experience reminded of another day within the last couple of months when the money stigma became evident. I told my wife that I thought it would be helpful to show people how much I earn and how we budget. She also thought that was weird.
I’m not going to stop sharing my Medium income reports, because I know how inspiring it can be for me to understand what’s possible here when I see them from others.
I also don’t think I’m ever going to stop trying to get my wife to let me share what I earn in total. I believe it would do us all a lot of good to be more open about what we make and what we do with it.
I can’t help but think, why don’t we ever really talk about money?
It’s similar to sex, religion, and mental health.
We don’t talk about money enough, which means that most of us have a problem with it.
We think that money is evil, or even worse — that wanting it is wrong.
We think that it’s the rich, greedy snobs that hoard all of it. We believe that their greed makes it icky for the rest of us to want money.
We think that we can get by without ever improving our financial situation, only to return to our finances again and again as a significant source of our pains.
Why aren’t more of us trying to fix our financial struggles?
Part of it, I believe, is that we were never really taught about money. In America, the government attempts to educate us on money in public schools.
How do we expect an establishment that is trillions of dollars in debt to be able to teach us even one correct principle about money?
And while they may give us some accurate data, it is far from the most useful. Neither are the teachings frequent enough to allow for any sustainable level of financial literacy.
My point is, it’s not your fault that you don’t know about money. You can stop blaming yourself. Most people struggle with it. It’s okay.
But there is hope. There are lessons that you can learn, and quickly, that will help you get out of a bleak financial situation. Here are just a few principles that are helping me get over my stigma around money.
Money is not evil, nor is wanting it.
You need money to survive. There has been a lot of good done in the world with money, just look around you. If you had more of it, you might be able to spend more time with those you love, and that can only be a good thing.
Hating people for hoarding riches just makes your money situation worse.
Part of the stigma around money is defined by the ultra-wealthy being greedy. We cherish our hatred for these individuals as if it allows us to be self-righteous about our own financial situation.
You think that if you want money, or even if you try to get more of it, that you’ll be just like them. But that’s just not true.
Not everybody that wants money is greedy.
Even if you do want money, you don’t need millions and billions. You don’t need that Mercedes or Rolex. Those things are wasteful, and won’t make you happy anyway.
Spending more time with the people you love the most will make you happiest, and money can help you get there.
Money is like sex.
It’s an innate part of our lives. We need it for the survival of our species.
Without sex, humankind would die off.
Without money, we would freeze, starve, and die as well.
That doesn’t mean money has to govern your life. Letting that happen would be as unhealthy as having a sex addiction. Just as with sex, money can, even in healthy ways, bring you happiness.
Earning more money will help you break the stigma.
Earning enough money to live comfortably, but not too comfortably, isn’t going to turn you into a greedy pig. It will just make you more you. Having a better financial situation will only bring out the best or the worst in you.
That’s a good thing either way. If you see things inside of yourself that you don’t like as you start to earn more, you can begin working on those character flaws. And, of course, when you see how good you are inside as you make more, your confidence will grow.
I know when you see or hear the word money you might cringe. Maybe your blood pressure spikes. It might give you a similarly negative physiological response as hearing the words “weight” or “diet” or “marriage.”
That’s because all of these things have stigmas around them.
But we can beat the stigmas if we work together. It takes admitting that we not only need money to survive but that it can make us better people as well.