"Money is the root of all evil." Many people have misquoted that famous verse from scripture. In fact, the verse says, "Love of money is the root of all evil."
What's the difference?
Love of money, in my opinion, is a big problem because it causes people to put their trust and faith in something fickle. Though the huge problems that have spread across Wall Street and now the country are definitely NOT a good thing, there are lessons to be learned.
1) Don't put faith in things.
2) Don't spend more than you can afford.
3) Have a back up plan.
Some of the stories we read about in the news are heartbreaking. Families who've been forced to leave their homes after one or both parents loses their jobs, companies downsizing, businesses going bankrupt.
But some of the stories make me frustrated. The people who could "afford" a $400,000 mortgage who've lost their home because they really couldn't manage a payment that size after all. The people who run up so much credit card debt that they just move to another credit card when one is maxed out. The well-off families who have been living "the life" and now have to cut back to only 2 modest sized cars instead of 4 SUV's, stop eating out every day, and cancel their masseuse and maid services and are just so put out over it. Oh, to have those kind of troubles!
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't always been responsible with my money. It's still a struggle to this day for me to pass up "great deals", even if they're at the local thrift shop or lawn sale. If you don't need it, it's still a waste, no matter how cheap it is.
My finances now look quite a bit different than they did eight or 10 years ago. Several things influenced me. One was that I had quite a bit of credit card debt myself in my early 20's. And let me tell you, it did not feel good. Another thing that influenced me was meeting my then boyfriend, now husband who is very responsible with his money. I also started reading a lot of great books about living more simply and learned a very important lesson while reading, "Your Money or Your Life". This book teaches many, many lessons but the most important thing I got from it was this: Your money is your life energy. How you spend or save it allows you to live in the manner you most want to live. In other words, if you are working some stressful job that makes you very unhappy but brings in a large paycheck, you're expending your life energy for that money. You could decide to move to less stressful job with a pay cut or start a business of your own. But only you can decide ultimately if it's more important for you to make a lot of money or do work that you enjoy but make less doing it. And for some (many?) people, giving up the "extras" seems like too much of a drawback.
Another excellent book that I'd highly recommend is "The Simple Living Guide". This book is chock full of great ideas and best of all, the ideas are practical and lead to a more balanced way of living. The author doesn't encourage readers to sell their homes, move into studio apartments and grow sprouts for food. She instead recommends looking at what's working and not working now and making small adjustments until you get where it is you most want to be.
The Simple Dollar is another great resource and it's online (free!). Many great articles about finances and how to start making changes.
Most importantly perhaps, is remembering that money is just an exchange. It's not magical. It's not the most important thing in life (if it IS the most important thing in your life, you might want to re-evaluate). Personally, I don't see anything wrong with having it, as long as you don't keep it all for yourself. Remember that saying, "Love isn't love until you give it away?" Same holds true for money, I think.