“Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn’t fucking have any.” – Jim Young (Ben Affleck, Boiler Room, 2000)
When I was coming up my mother was always badgering me to be polite, respectful, and use my manners around adults. I learned one evening that “having respect” also meant “not talking about money”.
We were sitting around the table getting ready for dinner and I asked my mother how much money she made. After absorbing a swift back-hand from “Mum”, I quickly realized that THAT question was not a question that was “respectful”.
You didn’t ask: “How much?”, because, for us, it wasn’t very much. You didn’t ask: “How much?”, because someone else may have a lot. The respectful way to go about that question in my head was to not ask it.
“You don’t talk about money, it’s not polite.” she said. From that moment on we NEVER spoke about it. We didn’t have it so we didn’t worry about it. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even learn about it. Money was bad. No, money was EVIL.
I never believed in that ideal.
Money buys shoes, money buys food, money buys transportation, money buys a home for your family. Shit, the last time I checked those are all pretty legit needs for a human being. So how is money the root of all evil?
After I got my government required education I enrolled in an institution that was a little bit tougher. A lot of my peers, and even some of you readers may have also attended. It was called the “School of Hard Knocks“. And I promise you that it was the toughest education that I ever received.
Now, when attending the “School of Hard Knocks” the Admission Department (life) will tell you that tuition is FREE. It’s not. As a matter of fact, that may have been then most expensive tuition bill for schooling I ever received.
One of the courses I failed while furthering my education was Finance 101.
One fateful day, at the ripe old age of 22, the car business came calling. I was so excited to have a real job with real potential. I was finally going to earn the one thing that had eluded me my entire life. Money.
I’m sure that you can imagine that a 22 year old who knew NOTHING about money was super frugal, right? Right.
The first thing I did, after I passed my employment test, was purchase a new car (I had already purchased a home when I had a modest salaried position.).
On my 90th day, at 10pm at night, we were closing the dealership down. I stopped by my boss’ desk and asked if I had done a good enough job to be kept. (I HOPED that I already knew the answer to that question.)
After a few minutes of him stroking my ego and telling me how much potential I had in this business, I popped the question.
“Great. Thanks.”, I said. “Do you think you can work me up a lease on a new Durango before we leave?“.
He kind of looked at me, stunned for a second, and then smiled a sly, half confused smile.
“You do realize, that in this business, we have to save for nine months to pay for three. Right?“.
I shook him off (like I had passed finance). After all, having a one year old, a house, and a new car (that had a payment four times the size of any car payment I ever owned) was no big deal. I was a goddam Car Salesman!
I was now the PROUD owner of a 2004 Dodge Durango. Not a single one of my friends, outside of the car business, owned a house or a new car. I was the cat’s ass.
Eighteen months later I filed bankruptcy.
The moral of the story, for me at least, is that money isn’t scary. Money isn’t evil. Money makes the world go ’round.
Don’t believe me? Do yourself a favor and tune into MSNBC one night after the stock market closes. You will see that NOTHING moves in this world without the transferring of “The Almighty Dollar”.
After I flunked out of LIFE I made a promise to myself: Earn more money.
I have been on that quest ever since. I have had bumps in the road, and tough times since, but I focus my life around the ability to earn money.
Before you freak out, I will agree, money does not buy “happiness”, but it buys all the things that make me happy. It does not buy love, but it lays a good foundation for relationships to flourish. Money cannot mend a broken heart, but it can buy a gallon of Jim Beam.
Money is a tool, and we need as many tools as possible to live a happy and secure life. It may even be the most important tool in our belt to conquer the struggles we encounter in our journeys.
Learn about it, earn as much as you can, and share it with those who aren’t as fortunate as you. THAT is not evil.
“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” -Mark Twain