Spend your money to reflect your heart

Published 10:00pm Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let’s talk about money, even though my mother always told me that it is in poor taste to talk about money, or what something cost.
We all have more than we need, even though we don’t know it. We live in a culture that bombards us with warnings that we must have X number of thousands of dollars in the bank or in stocks in order to carry us through our retirement years. To some extent this is true, but more often than not we hoard our dollars out of fear of not having enough.
And what is enough? Are we even thinking about having enough of the values that mean the most to us: our relationship with our family and closest friends, the feeling that our lives have benefited the world in some way, that our lives have made a difference. Have we used our financial assets to reflect our beliefs? Do we put our money where our mouth is?
The power of money is huge, and it can be used for both good and bad. It can speak for us; it can be an extension of what we believe and value. How we spend our money reflects who we are. When we turn our attention to our inner resources of intelligence, caring, relationships, determination, we begin to realize that we are rich in so many ways that the money is miniscule in comparison. If we are to be congruent with our actions and our words, the way we spend our money must reflect who we are, on the inside. If not, we are pawns of the professional marketers, eager to buy the most prestigious house or car as soon as we can afford it; or, even if we can’t. Today’s prevailing  mantra is “we can have what ever we want as long as we work hard enough to pay for it”.
What do we want? Look deep into your hearts and see if what we really want is the new car, or the glassed in patio. I believe that what we really want is meaning for our lives. If you love animals, reflect that love by sharing your gifts with the animal shelter. If you love nature, use your money to buy land to be preserved for our great grandchildren.
My mother’s rule when I was growing up was that she would pay for anything (for us children) that contributed to a fuller life, and it had to be something that we could not see or hold in our hands. She paid for piano lessons, summer camp, church retreats, and college on a meager budget. We did not go to the most expensive schools, and we had to work, but we were allowed to get the education that we chose. But we walked or rode the bus to school; no cars for us.
Our generation has more expendable wealth than any generation before us. We also have seen huge changes in our culture; capitalism almost seems to be on a par with religion.
What is most important to you? What do you want your grandchildren to remember when you are gone – your house, or your stuff, your fine car, or the times that you spent together. If you are old and stiff like me, it’s hard to relate to my grandchild; our worlds are so different. But all that changes when we go outside, away from the TV and  iphone, away from the distractions of modern society.
If your children and grandchildren are what’s most important to you, then let your checkbook reflect that. Write a check, or two checks, and send your grandchildren to camp for 2 weeks or a month. Children need to be outside, away from overprotective parents and grandparents. We all complain about how young people are “plugged in” constantly to the world of advertisements, celebrity gossip, and false values; rarely do you see young people actually talking to each other. Are meaningful relationships a thing of the past? Camp is one of the few places where they can be “unplugged” long enough to actually talk to each other, play, and enjoy nature at its finest.
How many of you can remember happy summers at camp? Pass it on.

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