Let’s talk about money. Yeah, money. I have wanted to blog about this subject for some time now, but I believe today is a good day to discuss this sensitive subject.
Money is a subject that many people do not like to discuss. It is taboo to explain how much one makes, especially among colleagues. If you tell a colleague about your salary and they make less than you, things start to happen. Your colleague will begin to measure themselves against you; they will start to compare their experience, degrees, and expertise against you. This is why it has been a blind policy to not discuss how much you make to fellow workers. I try to stay away from the subject because as a teacher, it is already difficult since we are not genuinely honored with what we do by our salaries.
Money is also incorporated in a lot of cliches and phrases such as “Money is what makes the world go ’round”; and, the most famous “Money is the root of all evil.” Well, the latter is always misread and misinterpreted because in the Bible 1 Timothy 6:10, it reads: “For the love of money is the root of all evil…” Money is a necessity to live, but if you love it more than life itself, then it is terrible. If you like anything more than your own life, it is awful – most people call it an obsession. The obsession of money produces greed, and when you become greedy, you will do almost anything to get more and more. That is why we have criminals in the financial world – it is because of greed.
Some Christians also misinterpret a scripture in the Bible that overflows to the thinking of non-Christians. There is a belief that God does not love or accept rich people because of the following scripture:
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:24–25.
This is not saying rich people cannot go to Heaven; no. It is saying that you can’t buy your way into Heaven or any other place for that matter. You should not use your wealth to sway people’s decisions. Wealth should not be a boast or persuade others to bow down. Wealth is meant to help the community and others; if you have it, share it.
Now, I must say this before I go on, by no means am I an expert in money. For those who know me, we can both laugh at this together, because I have had more than my fair share of money mishaps. I can honestly say that I have been in more trouble with money than with anything else! Money was my drug of choice, and I am not kidding about that. It began when I entered college, and I was offered so many credit cards. I was ignorant about credit and conveniently used the cards for unlikely purchases. Yes, it began with credit cards and ended with title loans.
Recently, I went through professional counseling because of loan issues. I couldn’t pay my utility bills, and I would get loans on top of loans to pay for other loans so I could pay my regular bills. I had to borrow from family and friends (and some I still need to pay back), but it became such a terrible story, I did not know what to do. I went through bankruptcy twice and even did not learn my lesson. It was not until I sat down with a counselor to talk about my money addiction.
I could have stopped it on my own. I could have said, “OK. So I can’t pay this bill. What happens will happen. Oh well.” But I didn’t. I panicked, and I began to borrow. The interest rates on those loans are 370%! I was paying almost $1000 on a $600 investment! Ridiculous, right? Yeah, that was my mindset.
Now, I’m rid of a few of those loans, but there are a few more lurking from my past. I am learning to pay my bills on time, and in time, I can repay what I owe to other loans, and to people whom I borrowed money. Those payday loan places and title loans promote themselves to people who cannot get a traditional bank or credit union loan. People like me whose credit scores are low general loans are impossible to obtain.
I work full time, and I have a decent salary. If I weren’t in such financial duress, I would probably have a comfortable lifestyle, and that is what gets me. My past and present mistakes kept me from moving forward. I am 53, and according to the status quo, I should be far ahead in my lifestyle. I don’t own a home, I rent. I am still making car payments; I have a 401K, which is iffy with the stock market instability; and, the only way I can vacation is when I take students on trips. If I had the money available, I would be able to tithe into my church; help out with more charities; save more money for retirement. But, due to my miseducation about money – I made the wrong decisions. I am not blaming anyone but myself because these money choices were mine; now, I have to correct these mistakes, and I am doing it…slowly.
I wish that financial education would be a part of the curriculum beginning in high school. They want students to learn Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, and Statistics, but what about financial math? Why are we teaching these students about credit, taxes, money management skills? Some of these kids will want to move out or go away to college, and it should be a partnership between the school and parents to help their student understand how money works in the world. They have to follow the system. My parents tried to help and instruct me about money, but it should have been reinforced with a course about money management at school.
I don’t know. I just want to be ok with money. I don’t want to have an obsession with cash any more. I want to apologize to those that I had to borrow money from, and I want to thank those who helped me when I was in a corner.
But, I am still no expert in money. I am a student.
I read the following quote which gave me pause and I’d like to end the blog with it:
“You must gain control over your money, or the lack of it will ever control you.” – Dave Ramsey.