More Than Money
Issue #29
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Money Changes Everything

Table of Contents

“What Does Money Change?”

Having money has blown two of my favorite excuses for not doing what I want to do: not enough time and not enough money!

What hasn't changed? Me! Having money is wonderful in so many ways, but it hasn't changed who I am or made me happy (except for short periods of time). It's great to have first-hand experience that money doesn't make you happy!

Inheriting money did not change my life right away. Outwardly, my life looked like the same old thing. I bought a house, but didn't live extravagantly. I value modesty, but it was hard to figure out where modesty lay when there was no budget to define parameters. Gradually, I started to realize that I didn't need to spend so much time comparing prices. I still fly economy, but I've stopped asking for the lowest fare. I don't look at prices in grocery stores anymore. With fundraisers, I used to try to figure out what was the least amount I could get away with giving. Now when I make a donation, I develop a sliding scale in my head and try to figure out what multiple of the average gift would be appropriate for me.

When you have money it can have the effect of making your inner demons bigger, because you can feed them money to make them grow. For example, I had personal issues in my life about creating the fantasy woman. I was able to fund my girlfriend for a long time with my Pygmalion dreams, thinking I could help turn her into my ideal woman. (She claimed she wanted the same goals.) I could not have done that without money. You can fool yourself for a longer period of time when you have the money to fund your foolishness. On the other hand, having money has allowed me to see my inner dynamics much more clearly because the demons get to come out and play in a very large format.
-Mark M.

What the very poor and the very rich have in common-what doesn't change-is that money totally dominates their lives. They have to think about it all the time. I know, because I've been both rich and poor.

There is a quote that says, "Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it." My wealth has actually led me to conceal myself less than I used to. Having money has prodded and enabled me to take more risks, in terms of giving of myself and sharing my previously- hidden talents for a cause I believe in. Without wealth, I would have been more likely to be struggling now to make ends meet and less likely to be looking into myself to reach my full potential.
-Jackie S.

Having money has enabled me to be much bolder than I used to be. For example, two nonprofits have purchased buildings while I've been involved with them. I know that my involvement helped both purchases happen--not because I funded them, though my family helped in each case. It was more because of my perspective as a person with money. I was more accustomed to the scale of the financial decision than were the others who were involved. Their visions were limited by their personal financial situations. They couldn't see that we could pull it off, because they weren't used to making big financial jumps-and they couldn't imagine that we could pull together the money in the short timeline we had available. But I figured there had to be other people like me who were in a position to give money, and there were. We raised the money we needed in the time we needed it. Both nonprofits are flourishing now that they have the security of owning their own buildings.

I am much more comfortable now asking other people with wealth to give money to projects, because I am asking my peers. That gets me over the hurdles of feeling as if it isn't proper to talk about money. I know how good it feels to give.
-Martha N.

I've been poor and I've been rich. Rich is better, as Woody Allen says, if only for financial reasons. When money was scarce, even tiny problems expanded exponentially. I couldn't afford housing in a decent neighborhood, couldn't afford insurance, couldn't afford bars on the windows. I didn't have much to steal, but my apartment was such an easy target that after all pawnable stuff had been stolen, burglars couldn't resist dropping in to grab whatever was in the fridge or the underwear drawer while I was at one of my three jobs. That apartment was a step up from my previous digs--a single room featuring a cement floor with a drain in the middle, so it could be hosed down between occupants.

Since I married a wealthy man, my daily activities and thoughts no longer involve the getting of money. Having lots of money changed absolutely everything except my spiritual self. And who's to say money didn't change that, too? Some of my most profound spiritual experiences occurred through events and encounters made possible because I could afford them, in the unstructured time available to me simply because I don't have to work for pay.

Perhaps the most profound difference between being rich and being poor was summed up by something wise my rich husband said to me when I was worried about a certain situation: "If money can fix it, it's not a problem."
-Ann H.

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