The world is full of smart people.
We are overflowing with them
You may very well be one of them.
But being smart in the IQ sense is very different from being smart in any other sense.
Street smarts, emotional smarts, people smarts. All did not come naturally. These are skills that have been practised, crafted and honed over time.
Money smarts are no different.
No one on this planet is born understanding money, let alone knowing how to be smart with it. In reality, we’re born with little more than survival instincts teamed with a wildly efficient set of lungs and the need to constantly use them to inquire about food and warmth.
Everything else came with time and practice.
Money is unnatural
Money is a skill, one that is not natural to us, money is purely a manmade construct that someone made up ages ago. It could just as easily be chickens or shiny stones but money was smaller and easier to swap, it's hard to get change from a chicken without significant consequences for the chicken.
Money is not a natural skill like walking and talking. It is a skill that only became required after we decided to form civilisations and decided it was a good idea to move beyond bartering.
Why do we act like money is natural?
So why is it that so many intelligent people spend their lives beating themselves up over money, riddled with stress, worry and sleepless nights?
When you look at it through the lens of money being a skill and pretty much every skill needs to be learned. Worrying suddenly seems pointless if you’re not going to do anything about improving your smarts in that area.
So set your stress and worry aside for a moment and put your learning ears on, and let's level up those money smarts with some sage pieces of advice to follow from the greats.
Smart money advice from the greats
Renowned investor Warren Buffett once famously stated:
"Rule No.1 is never losing money. Rule No.2 is to never forget rule number one."
Warren Buffett is an icon, probably the world's most successful investor, and an imparter of invaluable wisdom. For those aspiring to achieve financial independence, he is a crucial voice to listen to.
Sometimes when it comes to money, it is not always about the fancy pants, high adrenaline wheeling and dealing wolf of Wall Street day trading that wins the day. This is rarely the case. Instead, consistent, steady, not so anxiety-inducing passive-linked index funds that can get you to millionaire status without losing your hair or freedom in the process.
Just because day trading and risk-taking are glamorised and edgy does not mean it is the path for you. For what it's worth, time on the market beats timing that market almost every time. Not so snazzy, but I will take the slow and steady win over blowing up my adrenals any day of the week.
Do others pay your bills?
The words of Will Rogers should resonate deeply with most of us out there.
Particularly when it comes to that awful chronic affliction so many of us first-world workers suffer from. The title acknowledged an illness called affluence.
"Too many people spend money they earned…to buy things they don't want…to impress people that they don't like."
This cuts so close to the bones it hurts.
It hurts because I’ve been guilty of this so often in the past, and even today, it still stings me every now and again.
We’re smart people, yet, sometimes it's ridiculous how much money we spend just to gain that sliver of social currency.
So many of us waste our hard-earned cash on buying stuff we don't even want, all in the name of impressing people they can't stand. It's like a punch straight to the gut because, let's be honest, we've all been guilty of this nonsense at some point.
And yet we still do it time and again.
This blunt observation is a constant reminder to me to slow down and question my reasons for spending money.
Our search for significance
In an ideal world, we’d all have thick skin and not care, but that is easier said than done. Everyone, no matter how stoic or hard-nosed, wants to be accepted and respected. It's part of the human psyche.
Social currency is one of the many currencies we use to gain significance, and significance for any Tony Robbins fans out there is what our soul craves.
Our search for significance drives us, but sometimes that search can be miss guided, and we end up hurting ourselves financially. A short-term win for a long-term loss.
Another money truth bomb
Let me drop another truth bomb on you with this quote that really hits home for me, courtesy of P.T. Barnum:
“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”
So many of us get obsessed with chasing after money that it ends up taking over our whole lives. Their world revolves around it to the point where they are limiting joy in other areas. Money drives them as opposed to the other way around.
But here's the deal.
Money is there to work for us, not the other way around. It's all about putting money in its rightful place and leaning into its power to help us build our financial cushion and a secure future where we don’t have to worry about it any more. This insight is something that deserves some serious pondering and self-reflection.
The biggest dividend money pays is not in material things like cars, gadgets or fancy labels.
It is freedom.
It is freedom over your time and the ability o to choose what you do with that time.
That is money smart.
So here we are, lots of smart people doing lots of smart things. But if you want to be money smart, there are some key shifts you need to make if you haven’t already. Firstly, protect your money, don’t just spend it wildly and only invest want you won’t need for years, even decades, give it time to do its thing and grow quietly in the background while you get on living.
Secondly, when it comes to spending, take a moment and pause to understand your motivations for that spending. Make it about you and what you need and not what you think others might think you should have or need. They are too busy wrapped up in their own selfish lives, so don’t waste your time or energy. It's not worth it.
And finally, be careful that money is not your driving force. Do not hold it so tight that your hand bleeds. Be the boss of your future and be the decision-maker in your money relationship.
And this ends this week's lesson now go forth and be smart with your money.
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