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Money Obsession

Posted By: Randy GageSeptember 21, 2020

Funny how sometimes the perception of something can be the diametric opposite of reality.  And when situations like that arise, you can be sure that there will be disastrous consequences for those ignorant of the truth.  I find this to be the case about money.  A fitting example of this is how the masses perceive money – and how they perceive that other people perceive money…

Percentage-wise, very few people are wealthy.  Most fall in the spectrum between abject poverty and financially comfortable.  Most of that overwhelming majority believe that rich people obsess over money when in fact, the opposite is true.  Poor people think about money a whole lot more. This is a case of what psychologists call projecting – where people impose their own fears, prejudices, or motives on others.

Having experienced almost the entire spectrum – from having my power disconnected by the electric company to paying cash for an exotic supercar – here’s my insights on the subject... 

Evidence suggests that the wealthier you are, the less you think about money, and the poorer you are, the more likely you are to think about money.  This isn’t because rich people are more spiritual or that poor people are more materialistic.  It’s more a reflection on how necessary money is to your day-to-day survival. 

When I was broke, money was about all I could think about.  I spent restless nights desperately contemplating any possible ways to pay the rent, keep the lights on, and buy enough groceries.  When the phone rang, I wondered if it was a bill collector. Life was a constant highwire act, juggling bills, making payment arrangements, and wondering if there would be money for the next round. I truly was obsessed with money, because I had to be.  As terrible as that existence was, it still pales by comparison to many others…

Imagine that situation for a parent with children to provide for, or those in less developed countries, subject to violence, political instability, and pandemics, where the biggest money issues are issues of their very survival. 

You’ll find that wealthy people very seldom think about money because they don’t have to. Instead, money is simply a lubricant that offers more choices, magnifies positive experiences, and generally enhances their life.  They’re pondering whether to order the digital TV tuner option in their new Bentley Continental GT while you might be struggling to decide if you can afford a lower deductible option for the insurance on your Honda.  Wealthy people pretty much take money for granted; the way a fish probably views water, only noticing if it’s missing. 

So why do so many people believe the rich obsess about money?

That answer is easy:  We believe this narrative because it agrees with the mind viruses we are programmed with: Rich people are superficial jerks and poor people are virtuous souls.  The reason that question is so easy to answer is because it’s the wrong question.  The better question to ask is

Why did we accept this programming? 

And that answer is because it makes us feel worthy and noble – and allows us to wallow in victimhood.  If you’re imagining all those evil millionaires and billionaires spending their days obsessing, scheming, and plotting over what wicked things they are doing with their filthy cash – you can perceive yourself as an innocent victim. 

Perhaps you’re objecting to this rationale and want to make the case that you really are victimized by a system that favors the wealthy and powerful, holding back the poor and disadvantaged.  Essentially, that’s true.  But here’s what is happening…

You are taking a real situation (the system favors people with money), using it to justify a false belief (rich people obsess over money), to give yourself permission to remain in victim consciousness (I’m poor because I’m a virtuous person).  This leads us to yet another question, perhaps the most fascinating one of all…

Why would you argue for a limitation if you didn’t want to keep it? 


- RG

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  • 4 comments on “Money Obsession”

    1. It definitely sucks to be poor.. BUT and this is a huge BUT, as your story shows you can go from broke to rich if you don't let life keep you down.. but my BUT is a lot of people get kicked in the head from the get go.. I recommend a book How Starbucks Save My Life, by Michael Gill, just shows how he got to go to an Ivy League school and then to a cushy job in advertising all because of his privilege.. when he wound broke and working at Starbucks as a barista, he saw how privileged his life had been up to that point.. something he had been blind to on the way up.. that's what makes me puke when Trump says he's a self-made man..

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