What if Money Grew on Trees? Why Easy Money Isn't the Best.

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Wouldn’t it be great if money didn’t exist at all? I’ve heard this many times and, to be honest, thought it myself when I was younger. We say this as if such as solution would solve all of our problems regarding class, want, and need, right? If only we didn’t have money, life would be fair and less stressful.

What if Money Grew on Trees?

What if Money Grew on Trees? Why Easy Money Isn't the Best.

While this line of thinking appears to be the exact opposite of our wish for money to grow on trees (to be ubiquitous), the two actually have much in common.

I think we have these sorts of thoughts most often when money is causing us the most grief. It becomes easy to blame our money problems on the money itself. The problem is that those of us who think this way misunderstand the source of money’s value. We think that a shilling bill’s value is in the one ten cents it is worth. We believe the value of a thousand bob bill is the pizza we can buy with it.

The true value of money is in the exchange we make, not to spend it but to earn it. Such an exchange can involve effort, ideas, or anything we have that another might desire.

Not convinced? Let’s look at the wish for money to grow on trees to illustrate my point. When I visit primary school classes (which I absolutely love to do) and introduce them to money and finances (earning, spending, saving, etc.), one of the questions I ask is if they would like it if money were to grow on trees. Adults tend to give the same answer, because most of us have never thought much about it. We simply say, “yes,” and assume it’s a no-brainer. But what if money really did grow on trees? We’d all be better off, right?

Well, if money were to grow on trees (as leaves actually do), here’s what I would tell you if you offered me 1000 bob just to mow your lawn. “Why would I want your money when I can pull a thousand shillings off a tree any time I want?”

Changing how we think about money.

Placing the definition of what we DO with money rather than how we EARN it devalues it in our mind. If we were to always remember that we value money because of what we traded to “get it” (i.e., our time, our energy, our labor, our ideas, etc.), we would likely spend a lot less of it frivolously.

If we figure out that we earn two hundred shillings net per hour at work, and come Saturday morning, we see something on sale somewhere for 1500 (half the normal price of 3000), we could use the spending-centric point of view to justify the purchase, saying, “Half off is a great deal! After all, I’m saving 1500!”

If, on the other hand, we look at the purchase from an earning-centric point of view, we would instead have the following internal conversation, “I had to spend hours at work to earn that 1500. Is it really worth all the effort I put into working those hours?” The thing may or not still be worth it, but at least the cost becomes much more personal.

Taking time to think about how you feel and think about money can have long-lasting positive results.

This way of looking at money also has a huge impact on the way we see things such as the lottery, inheritances, and marrying for money. Where there is no effort, there is no perceived value, no appreciation, and no responsibility. Would this explain why such a high percentage of children who receive regular financial gifts from their affluent parents end up having dramatically lower net worth compared to those who receive no such gifts? Or those who win 50,000 to 150,000 in lotteries and end up filing bankruptcy at the same rate as those who win less than 10,000? Even multimillion-shillings lottery winners can slip into the financial abyss.

Not dissimilarly, the rate of personal bankruptcies and financial stress among retired players is an astounding 78 percent. Many of these individuals who played their way to multimillion contracts could overnight afford to live the high life (and often did), and then, when the knee gave out or the ankle didn’t heal, found it virtually impossible to adjust to living on less, or at the very least, change their way of viewing money and investments. I’m not suggesting that they didn’t work hard. I know my measly two weeks of two-a-day high school football practices in 110-degree heat didn’t compare to what professionals go through, and those just about killed me. But it’s no difficult argument to make that many of our professional athletes and celebrities are overpaid with relation to the effort and time put into developing their profession. The same could be said about young, overnight, millionaire entrepreneurs. Not all of these usually young and exorbitantly paid individuals lack appreciation for their income. Many do appreciate their wealth, and those who do, tend to be less visible to us since they often shun the lavish lifestyles, expensive cars, and top-of-the-line, must-have, currently trendy clothing.

At this point, some are probably asking, “Why such an emphasis on the vice of easy money?” The easy answer, in the immortal words of parents worldwide: “because!”

I know that I’m making it sound like having loads of money is a curse, and many of us would quickly say, “May I be cursed with such a curse! In fact, make it a double!” It’s not the money that is the problem, or even the actual method of obtaining it. It’s the likelihood that those who seek easy money tend to be those who least appreciate its value.


Because easy money does not solve our problems. If we don’t properly value our meager or modest incomes right now, we likely don’t manage it responsibly, and throwing more money at the problem will never fix it. Take the federal government as a case study there.

A relaxed, stress-free approach to your finances can help you enjoy the finer things, such as a warm cup of coffee on a cool day.

Managing money can be boring and that’s okay!

So I’m finally getting around to the issue of making money management a less stressful part of your life. You want to make managing your money easier, because, after all, you typically put a lot of sweat, effort, and time into earning it. Too many financial experts, however, propose elaborate systems for managing money. After all, aren’t financial experts right about when they say, “The more time you spend with your money, the more details you can understand and control about your finances, the better off you’ll be”? It’s a pretty common sentiment. I may have even said such things years and years ago. But I was wrong to say them. I apologize. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. It is now very much my solid belief that you should make money management tasks boring, predictable, simple, and foolproof.

Here's what I’m proposing, make money management easy. I’ll show you how to eliminate decisions related to many of your daily, weekly, monthly, annual, and even periodic financial purchases, along with stress that tends to accompany them. By keeping the true value of your money in mind, you will actually tend to automatically spend less, collect less debt, and save and invest more. By eliminating as many decisions about money as you can, its management becomes easier, even routine. And when it comes to managing money, I’m all for boring.

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