Have you heard of the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees”? It is a common adage that many are told when growing up. It is meant to instil in us the value of money. It tells us that money is difficult to earn and therefore should also be spend prudently. This is a story and a lesson about money that we are told and taught – and it is positive in certain respects in that it helps to show us the value of money.
Let’s take another story we have been told “Money is the root of all evil”. Is money actually the root of all evil? Money is just an inanimate object – and now in our digital world – just a string of bits and bytes. It’s not the money so much that’s the problem but the use of money by people in certain ways that leads to “evil”.
Two different phrases that tell two very different stories about money. And they are both right in certain ways, but not in others. For example, if we go back to the example of money doesn’t grow on trees – what if we instil that story in us and take it to the extreme – we could end up becoming so miserly that we prevent ourselves from spending money on things or experiences that could truly make us happy. After all, the whole point of working hard and saving up your money is so that you can at some point use it for the things that are important to you.
Like these, there are many phrases and stories that we grow up with and that we are told by others. Sometimes we ourselves also come up with our own narratives based on our experiences or those of our friends and family. We often internalise these narratives and that starts to affect how we think about money and how we deal with money. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Just like we saw in the example about money growing on trees, this could impact us positively but in the extremes it could be detrimental. Understanding and unpacking what internal narrative we are telling ourselves about money is extremely important because it will impact how we manage our finances.