Posted by: Adam Roper | May 7, 2009

Personal Finances

In case you were all wondering the Great Blog Off, which I am currently taking part in, ended round two last week. The big winner this round was Alan Schram’s “Saving for Serenity“, a down-to-earth journal about finances. It’s really a fantastic blog so far, and Alan has a wise conciseness about his writing. I highly recommend adding it to your feeds.

Anyway, Finances have been a recurring topic in the Blog Off this round. Jeff Hawker recently published an article about to enjoy life more by spending less. And awhile ago Adam Louwen wrote an encouraging story about his decision to turn down a high paying job in favor of focusing on photography.

With those entries in mind I thought I would give my take on finances. Let me begin by being brutally honest: I am lousy with money. I don’t manage it very well, I don’t keep track of my spending, and I get myself into a lot of trouble as a result. Now that the negative side of my financial life is out there, I will look at the positive aspects of my financial life.

Some of the best lessons in life are learned from the most difficult things in life. In my own life all my greatest lessons with money started with major mistakes I made, and I had to learn this way. No-one ever taught me about money, so the natural thing to do was teach myself. Unfortunately I’m not a very good self-teacher because I do not know the subject. So I’m learning as I go.

The most important thing I have learned about money is this:  To learn how to manage finances in the most informed way possible we have to take a reflective approach. By that I mean, we have to be aware of how we spend money and why.

I say that because, as I have realized, our North American culture is also lousy with money. Currently the entire world is being affected by a failed financial system that was, at it’s core, developed by mistakes- mistakes based upon one obvious and destructive lie- that the goal is ones life should be to make as much money as possible, and spend it on things that make life better.

If you want to get better with money here is the first step: Seek to comprehend how your spending affects everything- how your spending affects:

a) Your own life (how your soul is affected by how you buy things).
b) The lives of others (how the world is affected by your spending habits.

As I said in an earlier entry, our soul is affected by everything we do. How we spend money affects how much we care about the rest of the world besides our own life, and how much we choose to value human existence, among other things.

When we become careless with our money, and spend without thinking, it negatively affects our ability to examine poverty- the comprehension of why some people are rich while others are poor (this idea is detailed in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations). In a causal approach to money- spending without having to wonder why we are allowed to spend so freely- we become numb to the truth that a vast population of the world doesn’t have the luxury a “disposable income”.

When we choose to be more conscious about our financial spending I believe our souls become restless. We become restless because, really, how can a person realize the implications of injustice and not be moved to change? A more reflective approach to money would ask why some people can’t afford to eat, while others are buying new cell-phones every two months.

Practically speaking, what does a reflective approach to finances look like in everyday life? I’ll pick up on that question with my next entry.

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Responses

  1. Two thoughts entered my head as I read this.

    First, the lie that failed the financial system. Wealth in and of itself isn’t evil. It is quick to my head often the story of Jesus where he tells the wealthy man that he has to give up all of his possessions and follow him. What I need to remind myself of, often, is however that Jesus also met many wealthy people whom did not have to do that in order to follow him. Wealth is just another way God can gift somebody.

    This financial collapse, and it’s cause for it, in my mind is very close to what you said but with one little difference. People expected to get rich, but more than that, to do it without working for it. Wealth can be a blessing, but be sure that if that’s something that’s in store for you, you’re going to have to work for it.

    This financial crisis was two pronged: greed -and- laziness.

    Secondly, about how your soul and spending interact. I think it’s important to contemplate the flip-side to what you mentioned: how you treat money is a reflection of the condition of your soul. It can be a little frightening when you look at it that way…

  2. I completely agree- wealth in and of itself is not an evil thing. There are those in Churches that are blessed with the gift of earning money, and others who are gifted in teaching, encouraging, art, or the thousands of other sustaining roles in any community.

    The problem is when wealth is gained by exploiting people, and when wealth is used needlessly (a family of three living in a large mansion, or a company that has the CEO making a large paycheck while labour workers earn minimum wage, reflect a flawed system).

    I hope you’ll forgive my generalized statements. I have a bad habit of exaggerating stuff like that. meh.

  3. PS- I really shouldn’t be picking on the sterotype of rich people so much. I am being some-what unfair. Also a bad habit of mine.

  4. Hey Adam,

    Thanks for the plug and for sharing your thoughts on Personal Finance.

    Peace,
    Alan

    • Thanks lots. Keep up the good writing Alan 🙂


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