Not Caring About Money Is Stupid, Not Spiritually Superior

26 Comments

We all know them: the people that op-out of financial responsibility under the guise of spirituality or holier-than-thou morality.

They don’t care about stocks and bonds or budgets and spreadsheets, they worry about more important things like how they feel when they look at the moon and whether humility or generosity is the greater virtue. They don’t worry about where their next paycheque is coming from, let alone where all their money is actually going.

They write posts like, “I will never be a well-behaved woman” and poems titled “Fuck Pensions“. If you bring up saving and debt, they dramatically roll their eyes and ask why bother with that when you can be out there, living life?!

But not caring about money is stupid.

I’m frustrated with the superiority complex of people who don’t give a shit about their finances, because not only are they expert self-saboteurs, they’re self-righteous about their idiocy.

As a Finance MBA that blogs about money for fun, I recognize that I fall to close the right hand of Satan when it comes to classifying minions of the evil financial underworld. I like the stock market, I am motivated by large paycheques, and I think Atlas Shrugged was a really good book. If you ask them, I live a hollow life, one in which I struggle to extract meaning from my vapid existence of day-trading and conspicuous consumption.

But I know some things that they don’t.

If you feel blasé about money, it’s because you’ve never experienced what it’s like not to have enough

There is nothing more important in your life than financial security. Perhaps you’ve grown up in the lap of luxury and therefore haven’t actually experienced the stress of being legitimately broke. It has been my experience that only people with a lucrative safety net, like a generous bank of mom & dad, can really grab hold of the not-giving-a-fuck lifestyle and pretend that dollars don’t matter. For the rest of us, they do.

You only have the luxury about pondering the meaning of life when you’re not wondering where your next meal is coming from or how you will keep a roof over your head. Let’s not pretend you’re an existential saint because you’re not going to purchase the Apple Watch.

The very fact that you have the luxury to make choices of where you spend your discretionary income means that you have money to spend. But most people have suffered through that terrifying moment at the grocery store where you’re not sure if your debit card will be declined, and we know better. 

It legitimately shocks me how many people steeped in privilege are genuinely oblivious to the fact that the only reason they were able to pursue a life of leisurely self-exploration was because someone else has funded the real costs of their existence.

I never had a safety net when it came to money. No one is looking out for my financial security but me. No one paid for my education, no one was going to pay off my student loans, and no one is going to save for my retirement, except for me. Realizing this might not seem like a glimmering jewel of self-actualization, but I’ve found most aspects of maturity are painfully anti-climatic. Welcome to adulthood.

You are not invincible, you are careless.

There is probably nothing more boring than insurance and taxes. Life insurance, disability insurance, income tax, property tax, and so on. Ponder these topics and you’ll be instantly lulled to sleep.

I don’t think anyone is going to pretend that setting up a will or filing your taxes is SUPER interesting, but surely no one believes that keeping your financial house in order is optional. More often than not, you need to do the boring paperwork. It’s either legally required and/or it will help your family in the instance of a tragedy.

I get it, you’re immune to bad karma because you eat organic and bow before your Buddha shrine at least four times each day, but everyone knows bad things can happen to good people. Just because you don’t need a safety net right now doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow.

It’s humbling to understand how much time and discipline it takes to build up an adequate emergency fund, and how quickly it can be wiped out by a single event. You can think tragedy and hardship will never touch you, but that is naiveté, not spiritual serenity.

Being paid well and doing meaningful work are not mutually exclusive.

I have what I consider to be an incredible job. Every day, I go to the office and help entrepreneurs build their businesses. I work directly with people bringing their passion to life, and often these new products and technologies help improve the lives of others.

My work is incredibly fulfilling. It’s also well paid.

Not all good deeds need to be altruistic. You can give back to the world while making a profit. In fact, that should be exactly what you try to do each and every day: make money while doing good.

We need to get away from interpreting a measly paycheque or living broke as something holy. It’s not. You can be a good person AND rich, just like you can be a terrible person and poor. Money is not a measure of moral worthiness, it is just money.

Investments are not exclusively for the rich. 

It really doesn’t take a degree in finance to set up an investment portfolio that will grow your wealth. How much you want to learn about managing your money is up to you, but learning nothing is akin to refusing to learn how to read because you think literature is for boring people.

If you want a hands-off role when it comes to building your investments, simply choose a mutual fund or buy a small selection of index ETFs, and set it and forget it. You can’t tell me you’ve figured out the meaning of life but are not clever enough to set up an automatic bank transfer from your chequing account to your brokerage account that coincide with your paycheque.

At the end of the day, the stock market doesn’t need you to find it interesting or cool, because the stock market doesn’t actually care what you think about it. It will, however, give you a bigger bang for your buck regardless of your opinion. And I don’t care how spiritually enlightened you are, only a fool would say no to that.

If you want to see a marker of insecurity, it’s someone that claims “stocks are for people that get boners for money” because all that really says is “I don’t believe I am smart enough to learn new things”.

Money is fun, fascinating, and intellectual

Finance is an intricate science that’s as exciting to watch as a sports game. I study financial information with the same discipline I applied to get my BSc. in Chemistry. I love making predictions about the economic impact of various national and global events. I understand that placing bets on the direction of the markets isn’t for everyone, but don’t pretend it’s because you’re “above” that sort of thing.

Stock market indices don’t have to be your jam, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a valid hobby or career interest. I don’t really care for golf, but you don’t hear me singing about what a superior human being I am because I don’t want to hit 18 holes every weekend.

This is my freedom

If you think someone is chained to a desk serving a corporation, think again. They’re serving themselves. If someone is managing their money correctly, every dollar they earn is used for something they want, and for many of us that is financial independence.

I have multiple sources of income. I can work remotely. I am already set up for retirement. I’m not a sucker just because you can’t math. Like many people, every day I go to work, I’m building the life I want. This is not something I can do while having a soul-searching trek through the Amazon jungle.

I freaking love making money, and the only thing I love more is using that money to make even more money. There is nothing wrong with this.

There is a tremendous sense of accomplishment that comes with being good with money, and this pride is not misplaced. It’s hard to get out of debt. It’s hard to diligently save a large amount of your paycheque. It’s hard to pay for your education, buy a house, pay for a car with cash, retire decades early. These are not small feats, and they should not be treated as such.

Covering your financial bases is boring, tedious, and hard work, but it’s completely necessary. Pretending like your debt doesn’t count or saving doesn’t matter, doesn’t hurt anyone except YOU. Good luck.

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26 Comments. Leave new

  • Never met these people, but they sound grating and entitled. Most people I know “don’t care” about money only insofar as thinking about it stresses them out, which is its own problem.

    Reply
  • I haven’t met these people either. I know three types of people that don’t care about money. 1) Those that think they have so much of it they don’t need to care (I’m waiting for the shoe to drop on this one) 2) Those that don’t understand how it works so they don’t know how to care and 3) Those are are so damaged by debt that they simply can’t care out of self preservation. Everyone else seems to care a little bit.

    This post makes it sound like you know some trust fund babies.

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    • Not necessarily, because many of the people that don’t care about money do so because they’ll never have it.

      For example, thinking people are immoral or undeserving of wealth is a typical perspective — but you probably wouldn’t think that if you were well off.

      Reply
  • I agree with Taylor Lee above – most of the people I know seem to have decided that either they will never get out of their debt (“just keep on payin’ the minimums…”), they’ll never have money (even though for at least one of my friends who says this, she’s better off than we are), or find money conversations boring. (I don’t actually know anyone who had their parents fund their entire educations, but I know those people are out there!) Interesting post!

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    • I know so many people that find money conversations boring… which I totally get, you totally have to geek out to want to chat about the real intricacies. But I think it’s ridic that people shun responsibility. I find it baffling that someone can care about their health but not their finances!

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  • I certainly think it’s possible to care about money and still be philosophical. Actually, I think it’s important for a person’s well-being. I budget, save and invest on a middle-class salary (which DOES make me wealthier than most). I have insurance and am saving in a pension and am trying to save up enough for a downpayment for my first house. I also have long conversations on spirituality, feminism, environmental impacts on water (and wealth), politics, you name it. Money may not feed your spirit, but it feeds you belly and keeps a roof over your head. It also helps you prepare for the unknown. Philosophy feeds my soul, but it’s hard to be philosophical when you can barely make it day to day.

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    • Amen! I totally agree you can be spiritually enlightened AND financially responsible. But I think because money is dry or material and you have to “work” to get it, it doesn’t pass as a worthy endeavor for many.

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  • There is definitely a balance. I care about money. Like you, I feel 100% responsible for my own security and know it is possible to have meaning + good salary.

    Yet, I’m at the point where more money does not equal more happiness. I wouldn’t go back to my old job, even if they offered me another $50k. Many people overestimate the amount of happiness and meaning they’ll get out of more money. It is important to be careful what you are trading for money. It is important to consider what is “enough”.

    These people you are talking about are nuts though. They don’t exist in my world, only on the internets, because I am surrounded mostly by sensible people.

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    • I agree… I actually didn’t see significant lifestyle gains after about $60,000. I even feel my life isn’t that different to how I lived before my MBA, even though my income is higher. I just think there’s a point where you have enough money, and after that it either goes into savings or disappears on trivial things (depending what kind of spender or saver you are!) but otherwise doesn’t affect your day to day existence.

      Reply
  • You so described someone I know. Late twenties, he drives his refurbished kombi up and down the coast, stopping in ridic priced resorts where he “Finds himself spiritually.”
    Never had a job (worked briefly for his parents) and is funded by his parents.
    His mantra is “money shouldn’t matter” and he tells me to do what I’m passionate about without a second thought.. Only I have responsibilities and my parents can’t support me while I figure it out.

    I’m kind of glad I grew up poor, even though I never went without. I think that’s why I have such a vested interest in money. And it feels so good to have power over your own finances 🙂

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  • Preach!

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  • Oh yeah! I’m fond of saying that money is life. It doesn’t mean that my entire focus in life is on money, but rather that I recognize the importance of managing my money wisely so that it’ll enable the life I want. I agree with you–I think that saying you don’t care about money is absolutely the result of having plenty of it!

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  • “It legitimately shocks me how many people steeped in privilege are genuinely oblivious to the fact that the only reason they were able to pursue a life of leisurely self-exploration was because someone else has funded the real costs of their existence.”

    PREACH, GIRL. I have a number of friends in this situation who are always like “just do it!” without understanding how that is actually not possible for most people.

    Reply
  • This post just made me laugh… not sure why exactly… maybe because it describes some people I know. LOL.

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  • Avatar
    Aleksandra Sagan
    March 21, 2015 7:10 am

    I think everyone knows at least someone like this (or, perhaps, a slightly milder version)…

    I think the frustration for me is that these individuals can (perhaps unknowingly) make me feel badly for caring about money and finances. They can make comments that come off as snide when they ask if the only reason I care so much about money is because I’m poor or struggling in some way.

    It makes me want to scream. But, instead, I may now just direct them to this post 😉

    Reply
  • You nailed it! Freedom in the arena of finances is not holding to a philosophical standard which feeds your superiority (or inferiority, if that rocks your boat), but getting down to being “on purpose” with $’s. True freedom lies in the belief that there is no more worry (or ignoring the consequences) because every dollar has a task and they are working to help you get to your philosophical goal.

    I heard someone say, “if you put your head in the sand, you expose your butt”, and that has application when it comes to those who incorrectly accuse those who pay attention to their dollars vs those who philosophically dismiss this scrutiny as dirty or “unspiritual”.

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  • I wish i could care about money, and i wish I had a drive for making money, but i just don’t. I don’t judge people who find pleasure in money, or who find pleasure in doing something meaningful, but I simply have to admit I’ve always felt happy with a cheap apartment, clean water, simple food and much time to be in nature, and learn a lot of things my way. Some people might judge this feeling as stupid but i’m so happy, I’ve never been more happy in my life so why start striving for more when all i need is clean water, healthy food, a comfortable small place and a buffer/savings account? ,It’s not about “who’s better than who?” No one is better than anyone, we are all small sperm cells who were incredibly lucky that our fathers balls even wanted to produce us back in the days^^ In fact I’m lucky my brain cells even want to retain the English language i learned in high school,, they are doing all the work for me 😉

    Sure it’s stupid not to care about your financial situation, to have a debt, but not having a drive for money is an individual thing, and doing something every day that gives you stomach cramps is much more stupid than stopping. However I have yet to find a passion that also incorporates money, At the moment my passion is to learn everything, Math, webdesign, programming, communication etc. My only problem is, I learn something for a half year and master it, then i need to learn something else, so having a full time job for a prolonged time gives me somach cramps, onfortunately.

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  • People should at least have a balanced outlook cause people that realy realy realy love money.Sometimes have a weakness for other peoples money.I would not go so far as to call them Stupid thou.I would say we all can learn if we choose.And some peoples priorites are different.Also Ive experienced both sides I think its hard to tell what someone truley earned.Or who is actually broke.

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  • For the benefit of mankind money should not exist because Some of the things mankind need to do for survival would require an unrealistic amount of money that would never be accumulated. Thing like teraforming a planet to expand a uncontrolable population due to the fact that most of the biblical society will never embrace the idea of conerception. This will by some estimations be necessary because when the population becomes over the mark of 13 to 15 billion people. To give an idea about how fast that be reached the accumulation of the billion people that made up. The leap from 6 to 7 billion people took less than 20 year. This seems like a long way off but the other reason money should not be apart of mankinds life is that we can currently produce enough food 10 to 11 billion. If we were to confine mankind’s population to a small possible area within low crop producing area we could reach a maximum amount of feeding potential of maybe 16 billion people worth of food. Problems that would prevent us from feeding the maximum amount of people is obesity, the massive amount of food people waste, and even food that is massproduce that is not even picked to be available to ate. So maybe in a 120 years your kids great grand kids will barely be able to eat at that point. And the problem with continuing to make food at that rate with current technology would be all but impossible to accomplish when 70 to 80 percent of that time passes. And to tell you the estimated to to teraform are closest Neighboring planet with current would be 1000 to 10000 years. Give the fact money cause fights for the resources. And the wasteful use of those resources. By an ever increasing consumer society which uses those resources to make wasteful products such a cosmetic product, guns that realy do not serve a practical purpose in today’s societu this is due to the fact we have to knowledge to both not need to hunt or respect each other enough to not got to war. Other resource not need to advance survival include those wasted on Your beloved financial system. The biggest resource of those institutions is people give the fact if all the people working in the fields of Finance, war production, cosmetics and the soldiers that populate our world armies were to be involved in the production of scientifical research and development of technology to colonize the cosmos we would be better off as a species. So do I think you are off base by calling me a free loader yes I do. To me by wasting your time with the production of wealth Instead of the production of securing mankinds survival you are the one wasting your time.

    Reply
    • Sorry about the typing mistakes this was written out of pure outrage of you and the world’s wasteful idea of what is need to survive like make war for resources money and beauty product instead of food water and a future beyond the time where earth is no long able to fulfil are resource to live and breath and survive. To tell you the truth if you comment by saying some smart ads remark about how money will achieve these things in some way you would be the most delutional person in the planet. The thing I will be open with you about is the fact I am schizophrenic. You might now think I am just out of touch with reality right now but people that think of life. The way I do are the ones that are living in The delution. The reason you could not grasp the reality that time will run out if we do not change our ways is that you do not know of any world beyond Utopia at which we have lived in all our lives has never made you know a place where you need to ration your resource for all the basic needs like water, air and food all at one time you may not have to worry about these things but if. Humanity care anything go their offstring of future mankind you would recycle that checkbook you rely on so much and you will pick up a science and technological related books and start a revolution by working for mankind instead of work for your own interests. Faith in reality will one get you so for to quote Frederick nietzsche with tree last. Comments, No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone. ,
      It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!,
      There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.

      Though you may see that nietzsche said You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist but the current way of living will leave you not option but to fight you even your own family members to survive from starvation, thirst and sufication that you children’s with money as your drug of choice in the end this planet will not last forever like the money you spend. It may be hard to imagine there will be a day on earth where humans can not survive on it that reality and there is no amount of money that will change that fact. To make a quote of my own money will come and go but if you take no breath of air you suficate broke for life is the only money I will ever need

      Reply
  • You are just talking out of ego. You don’t like those who say they don’t care about money, because you had to, doesn’t that just mean you are jealous of them because they could afford time to themselves and not being slaves of the system? You wrote “you build the life you want” I’ll tell you something special. Once you get where you want to be (but can’t because ones expectations grow over time. The more money you have, the more you spend) you would already have lived more then half of your life. Does it worth it? Living a life in the future, and not in the present? Happiness doesn’t come from materialistic matters, in fact it comes from inside by doing what you love. Even if you are not earning money of it, you shouldn’t do it for anyone else but yourself.

    Reply
  • Whatever you Zero,

    keep piling up the zeroes while we pile up the memories 😉

    Reply
  • Your article is about as shallow as the rest on this site. Mind you the title says it all. I stumbled on this site a few times and each time I laugh at your obviously naive look on life. It’s clear you are obsessed with money and that it rules every fiber of you being. Chill out and go on a retreat from caring so much about the all mighty dollar. The truth is you can’t take it with you toots and maybe when you are old and grey you will finally have looked backed and realize the waste of time it was obsessing over money. It comes and goes and all those fancy toys are just that…toys. LOL and you also have an eCourse!?! Trying to cash in on talking about money..shallow interests begets shallow pursuits I suppose. I don’t know you personally so I’m not judging you as a person but your outlook. Guess what? People who do not care that much about money ARE spiritually more aware and in every way better off. Superior? As humans, cannot say, but far better off! Definitely. That’s just the truth. (no debate, I’m never coming back to this place, just could not read another word and give back, your welcome!)

    Reply

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