Why Study Money?

As we go through life, we progress through ages and stages; we attempt to direct our life’s energy based on moment-to-moment, minute-to-minute, month-to-month, year-to-year expectations of our future wants and needs. In modern developed countries, it is extremely rare to try and satisfy basic needs by building our own shelter and growing our own food, so we turn to the medium of exchange of money to satisfy basic needs; after that, we again turn to money to satisfy our wants.

We can look upon work for which we are paid as a transformation of our time and physical energy into money, which offers us a storable, portable means of using our energy in a delayed manner. How we use that money then becomes our judgment call as to what is important to us at that moment.

In an affluent society, many teenagers have an expectation that sufficient money will be available for their wants and needs–the only work required is asking for it. Yet most youth recognize the reality of limitations on the money available to them from the usual sources–their parents. Usually, the parents are able to meet the needs of their children, supplying them with food, shelter, and clothing (though some clothing might more accurately be termed a want rather than a need).

Why Study Money?

As a youth, it is sometimes difficult to see the difference between a need and a want. Also, as a youth, the time horizon may be very short. We look at this evening, this weekend, as vitally important and next month, next year as hardly worth worrying about.

Then comes the transition to independent living. Separation from the parental monetary support is often received as a shocking development. Too soon, then comes the time we see the truth of the old adage, “We grow too soon old and too late smart”.

We grow through the peak earning years, working and earning money. We have apportioned the money we receive between our wants and our needs. How good that apportionment is, is a value judgment each of us will have to live with as time goes by.

At some point in time it dawns on us that we may be alive at a time when we cannot work to earn enough money for our wants and needs. The dreaded or anticipated notion “retirement” rears its ugly (or pleasant, it’s only a matter of perspective) head, and our degree of dread or anticipation may well depend on the degree to which we have wisely handled our money.

Why Study Money?

Throughout the life process outlined above, we have been using and abusing, certainly wasting in some measure the money we have earned. I doubt you will find anyone who could say that every use of his money was wise and prudent–hindsight really is better than foresight. So how do we work toward a comfortable relationship with our money?

This web site holds no secrets for becoming instantly wealthy. Many books and newsletters almost promise that. The truth is, many things in life are happenstance. One estimate says your odds of being struck by lightning in a year are perhaps 1 in 700,000. If you think you have any chance at all of winning a lottery, you might look at http://www.webmath.com/lottery.html (ironically, complete with an ad that starts out “Lottery Wins Guaranteed”). I don’t have any desire to see you struck by lightning, but that’s more likely than your striking it rich by winning a lottery.

Enough frippery! Our use of our money, like our use of our time, is mostly under our own control, and not paying attention to it lets it fritter away, just as our time passes, either self-directed or passively drifting by.

Why Study Money?

There are many resources available to you to learn in depth about money, and your relationship to it.  None are free. Some require only the expenditure of your time. You may wish to actually spend money on financial advice, and there are many ways to do this. But generally, time and your own brainpower is the most important expenditure. See especially the category, “Reference Library” for the General Purpose Bibliography.

Why Study Money?

In the end, the study of money is the study of ourselves–where we put our efforts and our energy. We put some of ourselves into ourselves, satisfying our vital needs (basic food and shelter, normal clothing), coping with social necessities (the car or train or bus to get to work, perhaps uniforms for the job), indulging our whims (Mickey D’s, the Bugs Bunny necktie). Do we also put some of ourselves into our future (savings for more expensive items, end-of-year tax bills, down payment on house, etc)? Do we also put some of ourselves into the future of our society (churches, schools, civic and fraternal organizations)?  When we look at that picture of ourselves, are we comfortable with ourselves and our day-to-day financial picture? We study money to give us a satisfaction with our own life.