Monday, December 22, 2008

Respect for Money

One theme that emerged in the comments on my "Money Neurosis of the Week" post was that waiting for change of even one penny indicates that you have respect for your money. From the comments:

... he credits that respectful approach to money as one of the reasons he is wealthy...
... the penny probably doesn't matter much... but the stewardship attitude pays off on a larger scale because it affects every part of your life...

I think this is very true and very important. It's an idea I've gotten at a little in previous posts-- sometimes a penny is not just a penny, it's symbolic of your larger relationship to money.

It's easy to make fun of frugality-- it can seem absurd to worry about saving tiny amounts of money that even when you total up their effect over the course of the year, do not represent a large portion of your total budget. Sometimes people want to ignore trying to save pennies, preferring to instead focus on earning more dollars. But the two should not be mutually exclusive, and in some ways, saving pennies may be more important-- it's all about attitude.

Money is a powerful thing. We can do so much with it when we have it, and a lack of it can be so devastating. Most of us also spend a huge amount of our time working hard to get it! We all spend a good portion of our lives using money, and worrying about money. Even those who are born independently wealthy aren't immune to this.

If money is so important and so woven into our lives, we should respect it. Respecting your money means respecting yourself, your time, and the loved ones who may depend on you, or help you in hard times. It means respecting the freedom money can give you, and the power money can give you to help others. If I pick up a penny off the street, it's not about needing that particular penny-- it's about trying to value all money for what it can achieve. It's about remembering that I am not above having to be concerned about money.

You could take this too far-- this doesn't mean we should worship money, or see money as the only important thing in life. And it doesn't mean money can never be spent on frivolous pleasures. But by saving a few pennies, we can "practice" a mindful, respectful attitude towards taking care of our money, and hopefully it will help us take care of our dollars just as well!

What does respecting your money mean to you?


Susan S said...

my mother used to have a roommate that threw pennies away! can you imagine? my mom would go back and collect them- as long as the trash was a new bag of course- and save them. she made lots of free money that way!

Anonymous said...

The greatest ode to money I have read is Ayn Rand's "Francisco's Money Speech from Atlas Shrugged.

Kizz said...

A few years ago here in NY I was walking up some subway stairs and I saw a penny. I picked it up (thinking, "see a penny, pick it up...") and from behind me a woman said scornfully, "That and 99 more and you'll have something, won't you?" Ever since I haven't picked up pennies from the street justifying that someone (maybe that woman) needs it more and will pick it up. This is totally illogical but I felt so greedy and evil when I heard her say that.

Nothing fancy to think of .. said...

I believe in the following quotes:
"Live a good live, and in the end, it is not the years in the life, it's the life in the years." -Abraham Lincoln

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don't make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can't take their eyes off you.” -Maya Angelou

“Money will come when you are doing the right thing.” - Mike Phillips

Anonymous said...

Dear Kizz -- Please don't think that picking up a penny is greedy. Yes, "with 99 more and you'll have something", but that one cent is "something" all by itself, and can help pay for your next bag of groceries.

Respecting my money means respecting my work that earned the money, which encourages me to do the best work I can.

It means respecting the goods and services for which I exchange the result of my work, which encourages me to stick to my budget, and not waste my resources.

It means respecting my intelligence that chooses the investments that I hope will protect my future.

Respecting my money is part of living a mindful life.

Gord said...

If you'll stop to pick up a penny off the street, you'll probably think twice before tolerating an unnecessary service charge at the bank, or trashing a shirt and buying a new one.

Maybe it means you'll buy a sensible car instead of something stylish that burns lots of fuel. Discipline covers every part of good money philosophy as well as every other part of your life.

Failure is repeating errors in judgement every day. Success is practicing self discipline every day. Jim Rohn

Anonymous said...

A hypothetical example: Let's say I spend 4 minutes scouring coupons to end up saving 50 cents on some kitchen cleanser. Might be worthwhile. How about spending 4 hours to save 50 cents? Probably not worth it. How about 40 hours for 50 cents? Sooner or later, everyone takes the time instead of the money, it just may be at a different point for each person. Does that mean you don't respect money because you won't spend 40 hrs trying to save 50 cents?

I like your comment about respecting yourself and your time. If we can figure out how to do that, I'm guessing we'll all find our right balance of when to pick up the penny and when not to.

moocifer said...


I wish you had said to her, "yeah, I'll have a dollar and you won't!".

these are the kinds of retorts I think of after the fact in my own life.

Anonymous said...

i'm in England, and we have a saying here. "Take care of the pennies, and the Pounds will take care of themselves."

Meaning it's the small amounts that really drain away your income and your savings.

p.s. just found your blog. fantastic!

Anonymous said...

I'm the same as most people here in that looking after the pennies will look after the pounds. There have been numerous things I have changed recently (changing which milk I buy, for example) which will save me a little here and there but actually add up to something decent by the year's end.

It's not just this though, if you do that for all the things you buy or indeed stop buying the things you don't need, it adds up to way bigger than you could originally have imagined.

This is just common sense and really do make it all worthwhile. I just keep remembering to myself that I'll be retired years before the people who don't look after their own wallets.h

moocifer said...

Today was my birthday--(I turned 40!!)-- a day I had not been looking forward to for various reasons, but a day which in the end I enjoyed quite a bit. My coworker wished me a very honest-feeling happy birthday, i got a nice phone message from my Mom and my Dad, and during my lunch break I went out and did something I rarely do these days--I went to the local coffee shop and ordered a mocha with two shots of espresso. The drink was $3 and I tipped the counterperson, Sarah, the rest of my 5 as well as wishing her a Happy New Year. (I know her, she is a great person, and she looked uncharacterisically down).

I felt really appreciative for the mocha drink, as well as for many of the people around me, and I also was conscious that $5 is more than I spend on food on most days. But this was a special occasion, my Birthday Double Mocha Espresso break!

I am sure I enjoyed it much more than I used to enjoy them when I had them every day.

Besides helping me out vastly with my bottom line, pinching my pennies and dollars has given me the ability to really appreciate the times when I *do* spend money on "treats" that go beyond my usual routine, even when they are relatively small things.