Money. Money. Money. We simply can’t live with out it, and we wouldn’t want to either. Money is simply in every fiber and fabric of our lives. It is that basic and deep to us as human beings. It’s something we need to survive.
Think about the things that only money can buy—a better education for you or someone in your family; medicine to bring health of comfort to a parent who is gravely ill, or maybe a beautiful ring for the girl you want to marry. Are these things possible without money—99 percent of the time, the answer to that question is no. Too bad no one has invented a “money tree” just yet. Sure would make life easier, wouldn’t it?
Yet as important and vital as money is in our lives we often don’t stop to consider the long-term effect our values and beliefs about money will have on the outcome of our lives and our careers.
Let’s face it; to a great extent, our financial resources determine what our lives will be like. The amount of money you earn effects most options and choices that are available to you: where you live, the number of children you can afford to raise in the way you envision, how much you can save for your retirement, where you travel, and what kind of car you drive.
Your bank account balance determines where you can or cannot shop, how much discretionary spending you have as well as what kinds of experiences in life you can have that only money can buy. While creativity may be priceless the MasterCard ™ bill is due at the end of the month and if you cannot pay it in full easily, eventually the way you live will have to change.
To fully develop an economically freeing life through your artistry requires a very close examination of what your true belief system is about money and where those values and your career goals intersect.
Maybe you were raised in a family that offered money as an allowance, in exchange for doing household chores, or for making good grades. Maybe you grew up in an environment where you were given money sporadically “just because”, or maybe you come from a household where there wasn’t enough money to go around and from a very early age, you had to earn whatever you needed and wanted on your own, or do with out entirely.
As children, it is likely there were times when we felt over-paid and other times when we felt that we weren’t paid enough. Rarely in either situation, young in life, do we reflect on how those early experiences shaped our feelings about money, or how they affected our feelings about our own worth—how they made us feel valued or less valued.
Think about your earliest memory of being paid for a job. What was the value of that money to you then? How did earning it make you feel?
Did you feel valued, important, excited, depressed, taken advantage of? How did receiving that money for the work you did ( or didn’t do) made you feel?
Just as the first few years of life are important in the development of a child, the first few years you earn money shape your views on money for the rest of your life.
My first job was working for my father, a criminal attorney, when I was 10 years old. My father’s office had lots of filing to do. My job was to alphabetize personal files and organize business expense receipts by date. It was challenging work for a ten-year-old, but I did it.
My father paid me $3.50 per hour in 1974 (minimum wage was $2.00 per hour), and I liked the job because I felt I was really doing something important to help my father and his clients. I looked forward to going to work with him on Saturdays to do “my job” and felt a great deal of pride when he told me how easy it was for him to locate information after organized a client file. I also liked that my father always paid me right on time.
My father was teaching me that the work I did was valuable and that a job well done should be well rewarded; and paying me promptly made me feel that way.
Our feelings about money are often deeply embedded in our past and that impression affects our future efforts to earn money if we don’t take the time to look at our “money value” system as re-evaluate our attitudes later on in adult life.
The Faces of Money
“My Mom did not think I did a good job cleaning the house” Doris told me, “so she would only pay me half of what she promised. I didn’t think it was fair because she never told me what she expected me to do in the first place. ”
Now in her thirties, Doris has trouble paying her bills because she can’t keep a job. Doris told me recently” What’s the point! Everyone I have ever worked for takes advantage of me, so I only do what it takes to get by and if they fire me they fire me!” Doris has no respect for herself or for doing a quality job thanks to how her mother treated her when she cleaned her family home a long time ago. If only Doris could develop some self awareness and see what her past has done to shape her money values so that she could reshape them into something more helpful for her life.
Mary, on the other hand, hated to part with money. As a child she would hide her allowance under her bed and often would claim to her family that she had either spent it or lost it. A number of times her father felt sorry for her and gave her another allowance to replace the one she lost.
Later in life Mary had not changed her ways much. She often refuses to turn on the lights to save on the electric bill frequently the house is either freezing or stifling hot because she won’t run the furnace or start the air conditioning. Joe, her son and a friend of mine in school, grew up acting just like his mom. I don’t know how many times I bought him lunch because he said he never had any money; of course he never paid me back.
Joe went on to become an entrepreneur and opened a bunch of movie theaters. One day he called me and asked me if I needed a loan. I asked him why? He said, “Well I have been skimming money from the theaters for over forty years now and I have more then a million dollars under my mattress not earning interest. I thought you might help me out by borrowing some of it and paying me interest.”
Like Mother like son. We formulate our personal monetary value system for everything from what we see and how it makes us feel.
Francis sat with her family at her grandmother Annie’s funeral. Everyone expected Annie, her grandmother and her father’s mother, to die; after all she was 94. But as Francis, who was 13 at the time, sat there what she heard deeply upset her. “ Well now that Annie’s is gone, I bet my sister Jean, since she is the executor to my mothers will, is going to get the lions share of Annie’s estate.
Yeah, Jean has been sweet talking Annie for the last six months just waiting for her to die. I wouldn’t even be surprised if she got her to change her will over the past few months,” barked the harsh words of Francis’ father.
Francis adored her father, idolizing him in every way. But in that moment, and for every moment for the rest of her life, Francis always heard those horrible words come from her father’s lips and it changed her dramatically. Francis never felt exactly the same way ever again about her father or about money.
Francis went on to drop out of high school and life. Last time someone heard from her she was walking the streets homeless and high on crack.
As these “every-person” stories attest, money and what it is capable of doing in life can be dramatic and life-defining.
Monkey See; Money Do
Usually we learn about money and its purposeful and less than purposeful uses from families, friends, and teachers as we are raised and schooled. Depending especially on our family’s attitudes toward money that education may be well-defined and intentional or it can be haphazard, casual, or for that matter there might be no money training at all.
Unfortunately the national statistics about the development of financial literary are not encouraging. For example, more than half of us are not putting aside enough to maintain our present standard of living upon retirement. By the year 2010, 78 million Americans will be 65 or older. One in three has no retirement savings; according to Senator Paul Sarbanes, Maryland, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Additional statistics from the Office of Investor Education and Assistance, Securities and Exchange Commission http://www.sec.gov/investor.shtml conclude that:
• Only 5% of investors believe they know everything they need to know to make good investment decisions.
• The personal saving rate went negative for the first time ever in 2005. Americans are spending $100.50 for every $100.00 they bring home.
• Only 32% of American parents talk to their children regularly about personal finance.
• 20% of employees are unable to carry out normal work activities three days per week due to financial concerns.
• 2 out of 3 households will probably not be able to accomplish one of their major life goals because they did not plan for the future.
As these statistics indicate, most of us are not taught or raised with any sense of how to handle money, so it is more our own experiences than any outside teaching or instruction that drive our decisions, values, and future outlook on what money can and can’t do for us and for the future of our lives.
If you decide being independent and building your own arts based venture is for you, you are going to come smack up against your money value system and need to not only know where you stand, but access if your ideas are productive and helpful to the creation of your venture. Ongoing Arts Entrepreneurship Training can really help you work through your relationship with money and learn how to use your current value system, or the new one you shape, to serve you productively in your personal and professional creative life.