sister died recently and very quickly from an aggressive
form of cancer. She was only 52, just 18 months older than
I. Her death made it clear to me in a new way that none
of us knows when we will run out of time. Since then, I've
asked myself, if I were given the opportunity, what would
I want to say to my son about values and money? Here is
what I came up with.
of the most difficult decisions that you have to make in
life will be concerning your values and your money. It is
surprising to me how often the two can conflict. The apostle
Paul said that all wrongdoing can be traced to an excessive
attachment to material wealth, which people sometimes shorten
(not quite accurately) to "Money is the root of all evil."
Henry David Thoreau said the majority of men lead lives
of quiet desperation. I think there may be a lot of truth
in both statements and I think they are related.
most important thing I can tell you is to get clear about
your personal values. Know at all times what is really important
to you. Don't make it a onetime event; make it ongoing.
You will need to check in with yourself on a regular basis.
Find people in your life whom you respect who can talk about
what is really important to them and who will allow you
to do the same.
you know what is really important to you, follow that with
all of the passion and enthusiasm you can muster. Don't
let anyone tell you that you have to put it off until you
have enough-enough time, enough money, enough whatever.
It is that simple.
you need to be careful out there. Be careful of people who
use "shoulds" when they are giving you advice about money.
There are very few shoulds when it comes to money.
when people try to tell you that your discontent or unhappiness
will be relieved by more money or more stuff. It rarely
works that way. Be wary of people who want you to believe
that they are happier than you because they have more stuff.
(If they are happier than you, it isn't because of their
stuff.) Money can help you do lots of good things. That
is its purpose: to help you do what you value. If money
is not helping you to do what you really value, then stop
and figure out why. Money is a means to an end; it is not
an end. Try never to forget that, but be aware that it is
incredibly easy to forget. If you forget, then money will
end up hurting you rather than helping you. I've seen people
use money to ruin their health, ignore people they love,
fight with people who love them, and do all kinds of appalling
things-leading lives of desperation because they didn't
think they had enough.
can take the life out of life or it can help you get closer
to what you really value. It can help you forget what you
think is important or it can help you remember how fortunate
you are. Money can make you a stranger to yourself or allow
you to know yourself and realize your dreams. You are a
terrific person. Get to know yourself. Follow your dreams.
Kenny, Ed.D., is the executive director of More Than Money.
He is known for his work training young people to develop
political and citizenship skills. A co-founder of the New
England Conference for Democratic Schools, Dr. Kenny's publications
include the book
Preparing for Citizenship: Teaching
Youth to Live Democratically
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