NPR News, Classical and Music of the Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Money Is A Great Tool But A Lousy Goal

Travis Essinger

You know that grumpy uncle of yours who has a lot of money but he is not a happy man? Not only is he always grumpy, he’s never at home and his kids don’t like him. All his big business buddies think he hung the moon, but they don’t really know him.

If he’s not your uncle, you know this guy.

Do some people just get to the point that when they have so much money that it just ruins them?

One of the most quoted verses in the bible is “money is the root of all evil.”

Except… it doesn’t say that.

What it actually says in Paul’s first letter to his young protégé Timothy is, “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil...” Did you catch the difference? It isn’t money that’s the problem. Money is neutral, neither inherently good or bad.

No, the problem comes in when someone starts to love money. Or what they think money can buy them.

Money can buy a house, but not a home. Money can buy food at a restaurant, but not a date with the love of your life. Money can buy medical procedures, but it can’t buy health. Money can buy tranquilizers, but it can’t buy peace. Money can buy plane tickets, hotel rooms and luxury accommodations, but it can’t buy family memories.

Money is important – try living without any. But without a vision of why you are pursuing money, you end up filling the vision vacuum with a vision for money itself. And that’s where the problems begin.

Vision is knowing what you want out of life. The problem with the grumpy uncle I described is that he skipped that step in his life plan.

Many people start their careers with hopes of reaching goals (often financial) which they have defined as “success.” Unfortunately, they find that when they reach those goals, they don’t find them at all satisfying. So, what do they often do? Redouble their efforts at striving for more of what has already failed to bring them happiness!

To simply hear me say the words is to expose the behavior for the lunacy it is.

Money itself can never make you happy. Now, the lack of it can make you plenty unhappy. But money itself isn’t going to bring you long term happiness.

So…what DO you want out of life? Love, relationships, accomplishments, experiences, excitement, entertainment, competition, revenge, justification – as you can see, it could be very long list, made of lots of things – some good, some not so good.

Beyond survival, your own version of this list identifies the WHY of why you work for money. And money itself is simply one of the tools you use to get what you want out of life.

When money is your goal, it quickly becomes your master. It seems to tell you what to do.

When money is simply your means to bigger vision for your life, it assumes the role of servant. You tell it what to do.

Get as clear as possible on what you want out of life.

Then you can let money play its proper role - as one of the tools to get you there. 

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
Related Content