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Monday, 2 January 2017

"I don't like to talk about money" -- A big lie.

Do you know them?

Maybe you know them. The nice guy or nice girl who spends a lot of money, day after day. And then you ask them about their finances, and they say, "I don't like to talk about money".

They think that they are being noble by not touching the "dirty" subject of money. Money isn't dirty if you like to spend it so much, right? In fact, it's a very strange creature who likes to spend and spend, but never keep an eye on how much is being spent!

Probe a little deeper, and that nice guy or nice girl will look at you aghast, with a look in their eye that says, "But surely, money is the root of all evil?!"

And that one line colours their thinking, telling them that it's okay not to talk about money, and how they spend money.

Because talking about money means talking about spending money. And saving money.

Is money the root of evil?

To be sure, the Bible said, "The love of money is the root of all evil." But money in itself, isn't evil.

Here's what the Bible didn't say, but is also true: Unfettered spending without addressing the issue is another ancient evil. It's so evil that there is a fairy tale of the fishwife who wanted everything in the world, only to have the fish stuck to her nose.

There is a passage in the Bible where a husband and a wife sold all they had and kept a little for themselves, while giving a portion to the church. They wanted to claim to have done the will of God, and attain for themselves the blessing, while keeping (secretly) a portion of their wealth. And both of them paid the price: Death!

Money, or the love of it, is what drove Judas to betray Jesus. The Bible says that Judas did it for thirty silver coins.

And all of them sinned because they wanted the money to spend, and spend.

Spending without guilt is evil

People generally like to spend, when they think that they can do so without guilt. Unlike eating or drinking, spending produces a genuine pleasure in the brain, without any of the accompanying toll on the body. Try eating three plates of the most delicious chicken chop (or your favourite dish: Fill in the blank) and you might still find it enjoyable. The last one would go in with a satisfying "Ooh.... I'm so full!" And then if you eat a fourth delicious chicken chop, it might start to get discomfortable. A fifth chicken chop will bring hours of heartburn and indigestion. A sixth chicken chop will bring ... who knows? a heart attack?

Economists know it as the law of diminishing returns, but the returns diminish only because there is accompanying discomfort. When people can spend, guilt free, without thought of the repercussions of paying back, then it becomes endless pleasure to spend, spend, and spend.

And that's an ancient evil!

You need to talk about money, because talking about money in an accountable way means telling others (on a need to know basis) about how you spend your money. Otherwise, when will you start being accountable for your spending?

Woe betide you

Woe to you, if you spend beyond control, without thought, because you will bring about financial ruin to your family.

Woe to you, if you cannot control your spouse, who spends and spends on stuff like Jujube bags or other stuff, just to satisfy her inner shopaholic.

Woe to you, if your wife looks at herself in the mirror and says, "I'm a shopaholic! I am so like the lady in the novel!"

Woe to you, if your wife looks at all that she's bought and says to her friends with delight, "I'm a collector! I have a huge collection!"

Woe to you, if you hang your head in silence while all that spending is going on without raising a single word, because you will bear the consequences!

Woe to you if you don't recognise that unlimited spending is the gateway to unlimited consequences. You will pay the price that you have never imagined.

Talk about saving money

Saving money is Biblical. How you save it is also important. In the Bible there's a story of a master who went away, leaving some money to his servants. A few years later he came back. The servants who invested the money, bringing back returns, and growing the money, earned his praise. The one servant who buried the money in the ground, without thinking about how to grow the money, was cursed and scolded.

So, you see, how you save that money is as important as saving it. Just saving it by burying it in the ground isn't the best solution.

Think big. 

Because the day is going to come when you need money to spend on something big. Something important. Non-negotiable, life and death situation. And it's a good chance that you are going to need a big sum of money. Huge, huge sums of money. Not the amount that you've been stashing away under the pillow.

Think big.

Because your money is shrinking, and you might have heard about the "time value of money" from your financially savvy friends. If you have a dollar today, and it buys you ten candy drops, there's a good chance that you'll be able to buy less candy drops with a dollar in ten years. 

Because things become more expensive over time, and you need more money to get the same things. So as your money becomes smaller, your needs will increase over time.

Because the only way you can save money is by stashing it away in things that will appreciate over time. And that means that your luxury and vanity purchases, like mobile phones and flashy clothes, will be worth nothing in twenty years time. Whereas, your eccentric friend from high school who works the 9-to-5 and never got married, stashing away all his cash in auctioned properties, is likely to emerge a champion when the properties appreciate in value.

So start thinking big already.

But to get there, you will have to speak with financial advisors. Because you need to seek out good advice on how to spend your money.

Just two days ago, one of my relatives called my wife up excitedly. "I've heard of this magnetic mattress that cures your ailments!" My wife was suspicious. Her father had been approached by another friend on the same mattress scam. How much was the mattress? "More than ten thousand ringgit!" 


Just because you believe in an afterlife doesn't mean that you don't need to live in this life.

And that sounds like the perfect line for another piece, so I'll leave it at that. 

Just remember, you need to talk about money. 

When you don't talk about things, they have a way of turning into something that you never imagined.

Just like horror movies when zombies bite people and the victims don't want to say that they've been bitten. And too late, the victim turns to the camera with sunken bloodshot eyes and a mouth dripping with saliva, saying, "Shoot me. Before it's too late."

Don't wait until it's too late.

Thanks for reading.

Here are some other pieces from me.