One of the best lessons I have learned about money is that you cannot be afraid of money or consider it evil. You need view money as a friend, and you want to get to know that friend as much as possible. When you get to know this friend, you start to understand that it can help you. This friend can help you help other people. This friend can change the world. This friend can be one of the most powerful friends you can have.
Money is a friend that can be manipulated. The people who give the most in the world, have the most money in the world. Money needs to have boundaries; you need to set the boundaries for money. I grew up poor, meaning we didn’t have extra money. I started to evaluate why this was. It wasn’t that my parents weren’t working hard enough or that they weren’t doing enough. They hadn’t elevated their consciousness on money. They weren’t treating money like a friend; they were treated it like an enemy.
When you grow up with little money and limited understanding of it, you start to apply certain negative connotations to it. As you pay your bills and try to meet a certain standard of living, you start to see money as fleeting. There is never enough, and you don’t feel safe. You begin to attach a stigma to money. It is evil and those that have more of it are evil as well. You must level up your consciousness.
This is not an easy thing to do. You must seek out the answers and solutions. The moment you become aware of this you can start to move forward. The toughest part is the application of the lesson. You must leave your comfort zone. You also need to take the emotion out of money. We tend to make bad decisions when emotion is involved. This is not to say that you shouldn’t make decisions based on emotion, but regarding money, emotion has no utility. Money decisions made with emotion become poor investments.
The most impactful moment for me regarding money was during the 2008 economic crisis. Most of remember the big bailouts we gave to big companies. Billions of dollars given to corporations that were facing bankruptcies and shuttered windows. It is fair to say that many were outraged by the billionaires being bailed out by the little taxpayer. I distinctly remember watching the news and seeing helicopters fly by the five-star hotels these CEOs, CFOs, and other bigwigs were staying. They had just been given billions in taxpayer money and they were in a five-star resort! I remember thinking, “How are they not in jail? They must not have done anything illegal.” The realization that I came to was simple. They understood money. They knew how to manipulate it as their friend. Now of course I am not advocating for poor business practices or to swindle a rich relative out of their money, the lesson here was that I did not fully understand money. I wasn’t viewing it as a friend.
Another major moment for me in my understanding of money was when I was in Santorini, Greece. I was with my friend and mentor Ryan Lee. I had traveled quite a bit at this time, but I was still learning the finer points. We were staying in a nice hotel with a beautiful view of the city. The weather was a perfect sunny day, and I was up in the early hours of the morning. Like everyone in the world, I like free stuff. As a kid who grew up poor, I really like free stuff. Here in this nice hotel in Santorini, I put on the free robe, the free slippers, and I even had the free eye mask perched above my eyes. Regaled in my free luxury items I stepped out on the balcony with my free coffee to sit and enjoy the beautiful view. Shortly after this Ryan comes out to the balcony. Here is our exchange:
Ryan: “What are you doing?”
Me: “Pretending to be a millionaire!”
Ryan: “Oh really, what do millionaires do?”
Me: “I sip coffee in my robe and slippers and enjoy the spoils of my wealth and the views that come with it.”
Ryan: “Oh okay. So what book are you reading millionaire?”
Me: “What? I don’t read books.”
Me: “What? What do you have to say?” (I have learned that anytime someone has a hmmm response or moment, you need to follow up—but that is a different lesson)
Ryan: “I will tell you this. Rich and wealthy people read books and know why. Poor people watch television and wonder why.”
Me: “Well what if I don’t have the money for books?”
Ryan: “Do you have cable?”— (This was when Netflix was still sending movies in the mail)
Ryan: “How much does that cost you a month? Probably fifty bucks a month.”
Ryan: “Go home and cancel your cable and spend fifty bucks a month on books. Never have cable again and spend the rest of your life spending fifty bucks a month on your education and you will be a millionaire.”
When I returned home, I canceled my cable and bought the book Lone Survivor. Ryan Lee impressed upon me that I first needed to enjoy reading books before I started reading books about wealth and success. Ryan’s big lesson was instead of pretending to be a millionaire, start doing the things millionaires did to become wealthy.
It is an education that I have continued since that pivotal moment. Recognizing the friendship that can be forged with money. Realizing the ways that you can navigate that friend. Reevaluating the stigmas that are attached to money. In order in to better understand money, we must level up our consciousness. We need to change because money is changing.
Money has been changing for quite some time. Beyond the changes in the market and beyond inflation, the way money is traded, and the way currency is viewed has drastically shifted. Cryptocurrency and NFTs have transcended from ‘trendy’ to actual utility. Crypto has opened the door to a 24-hour market, embracing change and challenging the status quo. NFTs have turned digital currency into digital curation. Small and unique digital art pieces that can be traded across the globe. Money exchange has lived in the Monday through Friday 9-5, now it truly doesn’t sleep. We now have two choices: Are we going to be afraid or are we going to make a new friend.