Updated: Sep 7
There are few messier places than those where money shows up. I know from direct experience and from studying money and relationships for over 50 years. I've had countless conversations about the lack of financial education in our education systems and how my relationship with money has impacted so many life decisions.
In fact, I wrote a book about it.
In the introduction to Positive Money - 7 Principles for Living a Rich Life, I write about being obsessed with a “poor little rich boy” named Richie Rich, a popular comic book character who was the richest kid in the world. Everything about his life was tied to money, including his middle name, a dollar sign.
As a 10-year-old, I loved to snuggle in with a Richie Rich adventure after school as I ate my favorite treat of vanilla ice cream mixed with chocolate sauce. In addition to my personal sundae, I loved the outsized adventures of this goofy character in a bow tie and how he navigated relationships in his crazy world of opulence. On one hand, Richie had everything money could buy. On the other hand, this kind and charitable soul often felt lonely and neglected as he figured out how money related to love and connection. For example, whenever Richie gave his girlfriend, Gloria Glad, an expensive gift, she refused it and criticized the display of wealth despite his efforts to downplay it.
I wasn’t alone in my Richie obsession. The series became the most popular for the Harvey Comics franchise in the 1970s and was later turned into a comic strip, TV show, and movie starring Macaulay Culkin. Perhaps the creators wanted us to ponder what it means to be rich or to live a rich life given our fascination with wealth.
There’s no question that money is an important ingredient in meeting basic needs like housing, healthcare, food, and utilities. We need it to pay for transportation and to access services that improve our quality of life. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a life in which money isn’t a critical resource. Beyond that, I wondered where it fit into the broader definition of a 'rich life'. Perhaps it's not quite as central as we often assume. As the Beatles famously sang, “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.” As one of my coaches once told me, “There are many forms of payment. Cash is just one of them.”
How the Positive Money Club Cleans Up the Mess
This is where the Positive Money Club -- and the mess -- comes in.
I believe Positive Money makes it possible to live a rich life as long as you’re tuned into what feels enriching. In other words, when you find grace in this messy place, you start to separate the numbers from what you make them mean. You have a point of reference for how you want to be in your relationship with money and practices for sorting that out. If all goes well, you'll clarify what matters most and establish a reliable system to guide your daily money decisions.
Let’s face it. Money doesn’t care how hard you or I work. It doesn’t know how smart or deserving you are or pay attention to whether you have enough to pay your bills or deal with an emergency. It has no opinion about being used for good or evil and happily complies with the policies, practices, and priorities we set for it. This means we are as much the problem as we are the solution. We have the choice to stick with the status quo or to embrace opportunities for change at a personal and societal level. As Winston Churchill once said, “No one ever finds life worth living – one has to make it worth living.”
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