Two Purposes For Money
How are we supposed to use this stuff?
Finances are an ongoing topic in our lives. How we approach money (earning and using it) says a lot about our worldview and priorities.
Money permeates everything:
- It’s a driver for our work.
- We use it to purchase daily essentials.
- We save it up for future events.
It’s easy for money to become a distraction, getting our priorities and perspectives about it messed up for a while.
Sometimes we need to pause and take stock: what is the point of money? Why are we so focused on earning it?
Despite what the world around us preaches, there are essentially only two purposes for money: sustaining and giving.
Let’s look at how that fact plays out in our lives.
What Money Is Not
Sometimes, to clarify what something is, it’s helpful to confirm what it is not. For example, money is not any of the following things:
An end in itself
Money can be destroyed, taken from us in a moment. If we’re expecting money to provide us physical, emotional, or spiritual security, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.
We must build our trust and contentment on something more lasting than an account balance.
Money is a tool. We use it to achieve an end, like any other tool. But, unfortunately, far too often, we approach money as if it was the entire goal. It’s easy to think it’s the scorecard in life.
Cash is a weak scoring system when examining a life well-lived.
Riches slip through our fingers. Even the best of us watch our money head out each month for expenses large and small.
Our ability to gain and use money is transitory; we are merely stewards of our riches for a short time. Acknowledging this enables us to let money come and go without too much fanfare.
So if money can’t accomplish or be the things listed above, what’s the point?
Let’s switch tracks and look at what purposes money can fulfill.
Money is a medium. It doesn’t feed, clothe, or put a roof over our heads, but it is the medium we use to access and achieve those things.
Individuals, households, and societies require structure and organization to continue, make it through today, and then plan for tomorrow.
Money helps us be self-sufficient in our lives; it allows us to contribute to our communities and be helpful in different ways to those around us.
To be effective in our lives, seeking our goals and priorities, we need financial means.
Money is not a problem; it’s a tool that can be used as part of the solution.
There are many needs in the world; the problems in society are often ongoing and sometimes seem intractable.
It’s straightforward to think of giving as limited to the realm of charity to a church or donations to a non-profit, and those are indeed profitable uses of money. But financial giving encompasses other areas as well.
We give when we build. Perhaps that’s using our dollars to construct a physical space or building a company or product to accomplish a goal.
The business owner reinvests in their company, maintaining and preserving jobs for the present and future; they give to their employees and customers even as they seek a profit.
The investor who builds an apartment allows housing for those who need a place to live, even as they seek a financial return on their investment.
We give when we fashion a legacy. Money is transportable; we can carry it into the future. And many of us have a desire to prepare a gift for the days to come.
When we give our money as part of a legacy, we contribute to future success and opportunities. So we’re giving to upcoming generations (many of whom we will never meet).
Money amplifies in our life what we already treasure and prioritize. If we value self-sufficiency and giving, our use of money should deeply reflect that.
If we are diligent with our dollars, approaching them as tools we use as stewards, we will find that we can care for our households and have a greater capacity to give.
The cycle can then repeat itself: sustain, give, build, and pass on. Let’s make good use of what we’ve been entrusted with.
What do you believe is the purpose of money?
Start today: examine if you’re using money in your life profitably, to sustain and give.
Originally published at https://fjwriting.com on August 12, 2021.