Money Matters And Don’t You Forget It

2011 January 12

Hate To Break It To You is a recurring feature wherein we dispense succinct home truths that everyone could benefit from facing up to, unpleasant as they may be.

Money trumps self-actualization and anyone who tells you otherwise obviously has no trouble paying their bills or can no longer remember a time when they did. It’s hard to save the world while living under a bridge or being consumed with anxiety about whether the phone will ever ring for another job interview. And I see damn few guru/thought leader types who are willing to acknowledge that you can’t pay this month’s rent with the prosperity doctrine.

Photo by emdot

Prioritizing your need for a stable income and opting for a  practical (vs.  blissed-out/awesometastic/epic) career choice because you know that it won’t leave you living paycheck-to-paycheck until your government pension kicks in doesn’t make you an unevolved, money-grubbing wage slave, it makes you pragmatic and self-interested. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that. No shame in seeing the game for what it is.  No one else has to walk in your shoes or pay off your line of credit. You do what you have to do to get by and then you do what you want to do with the leftover energy and money. But it’s hard to think about that until there actually is leftover energy and money.

Don’t fall into the myopically classist* rabbit hole of berating yourself for “safe” and/or necessary choices that seem to run counter to personal growth truths. Money (and not just the purportedly easy kind that comes from shilling  your essence to online suckers) matters and it matters most when you don’t have enough to go around.

*Don’t you doubt for a damn second that the language and philosophy of self improvement and personal growth absolutely reeks with class privilege.

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9 Responses
  1. 2011 January 12
    Ty Unglebower permalink

    You should post this one over at Brazen.

  2. 2011 January 12
    Anonymous permalink

    Are you trying to get me pilloried;)?

  3. 2011 January 13

    Hell yes. Thank you, as always, for saying what needs to be said

  4. 2011 January 13
    Ty Unglebower permalink

    Of course not. =) But I think a lot of people over there would get something out of it.

  5. 2011 January 13
    Anonymous permalink

    Good post! I think – like with anything else – the whole ‘live your passion’ camp often lacks balance. We live in a world where money is absolutely necessary and sometimes that means working a job that is less than ideal. I do believe however that we all have the ability to move towards making a living by doing something that doesn’t make us want to vomit each morning.

    What I definitely object to is people who believe that you’re selling out because you work a day job. That just means you’re practical enough to keep a steady paycheck while you build on your passion project.

    But I’m probably not the best person to comment on this post as I’m a passion-pusher myself. :)

  6. 2011 January 13
    Anonymous permalink

    Hey Nailah!

    I definitely don’t think there’s anything wrong with on-demand passion-pushing –aside from my dislike for the word itself;)– if it’s done in a pragmatic way that takes into account the circumstances of the pushee and is tailored to where they are in life and where they want to be, which I know that you and a few of the other pushers (heh) I know strive to do in your practices.

  7. 2011 January 13

    Most reputable financial/career advice givers (Ramit Sethi, Dave Ramsey) will tell people that their first priority, before taking risks, is to get their debts paid off and a steady income going. So I’m not sure where the tension is here.

    Also, I think a statement like “the language and philosophy of self improvement and personal growth absolutely reeks with class privilege,” deserves its own blog post wherein you unpack it instead of just throwing it out there. It could be a really interesting post.

  8. 2011 January 13
    Anonymous permalink

    I’ve actually written about the privilege issue in other venues, but I agree that it definitely deserves a post of its own/full discussion in this forum, which is on my (eventual) agenda.

  9. 2011 January 13
    Designdiscourse permalink

    I don’t think you are right in speaking of “self improvement and personal growth philosophy and language reeking with class privilege”. Cathy is perfectly correct is what she has said about advice givers (Ramit and Dave) in that they propose firstly to get the basic correct before you pursue anything further. In fact, if you take a more detailed look through Ramit’s website you will realise that he has an entire section on how to save money on small things. That isn’t the recommendation of someone who feels that they are class privileged.

    To be honest, I feel compelled to ask why you would describe it like? What value do you feel you created when you did that?