Anyone who says money doesn't matter is a liar. The truth is, regardless of if you have an abundance or very little, it does matter!
We use it every single day to the point it's like we have become numb to it.
These pieces of paper and coins ranging in different colours, sizes and shapes. Each with a different value, each with different possibility and of different importance, they run our lives.
Along with the number in our bank account.
It all determines what we do or don't achieve, what we do or don't experience, and although we don't like to admit it because in some ways its shallow, it determines how we feel about ourselves and others.
If we want to get technical we could talk about the way money means different things in different cultures, and the conversion rates between countries.
We could talk about how we teach our kids about money and their naïve, unknowingly stealing from the football canteen, ways.
We could talk about the way money categorizes us into social class.
We could talk about power, or glory.
We could... we could... we could...
I don't think I'm that good at technicalities.
We say or hear things like "money doesn't bring happiness" but it literally costs us money to live and while it mightn't directly bring happiness served on a silver platter, it is pretty bloody hard to be happy without it.
Sure, there's external factors that determine happiness... but they all come back to money, everything comes back to money.
For example; happiness comes from the people you love and the people who love you, so you have an amazing family, right?
You need money to put a roof over their head and food in their mouths, the school fees and books, petrol to fuel the car that transports them safely, electricity that powers the fridge, the hot water service, the nightlight.
But then you need more... to give them everything they deserve, right?
Nice clothes, a laptop, an iPhone, a room full of toys. And one I’m super guilty of, an apple watch to lose weight because a walk around the block doesn’t count unless it’s logged and mapped.
They need all the opportunities in life so you enroll them in and drive them to; basketball, football, cricket, dancing, gymnastics, drama, netball, singing lessons, piano....
You have given them everything! They aren't missing out, right?
And so, we give up more time to get that thing called money, more time away from our partners, our kids, our lives.
Spending money has never been more accessible than it is now, you can literally tap a little plastic card or your phone screen and walk away with the goods, at online store checkouts all you have to do is key in a few numbers.
We can spend money without even having to properly acknowlede what or how much we are spending.
Can’t afford something? Never mind the good old fashion saving up routine.
After pay it, Zip-pay it, layby it.
The thing is, our lives become so expensive that so many people give up living to make money so they can afford their lives. Ironic, isn't it?
The more we earn, the more we spend.
We crave more... more... more.
We go silly on it, like a drug.
We can never have enough.
So much so that people do crazy things for it; steal, gamble, sell drugs.
The promise of being paid can make us do almost anything.
We, as a society, give up so much for money.
But is it our fault? What choice do we have?
What is a life without money?
The stress, the struggle and most damagingly, the shame.
The secret is; we all have money problems.
They are all just on different scales.
I remember a few years ago, I had finished high school and just started University, I was working, studying and heading out to the local nightclub I'd spent years waiting to go to.
My stomach would drop as soon as my phone bill came in, or the mechanic told me I needed new tyres. I wanted to eat healthy but couldn't afford my own groceries. (Mind you, my parents put food on the table anyways)
There were times I scrummaged around the house for coins to put petrol in my car. (Surely, we have all being there).
I didn't, and still don't, like to except help, or admit I need any.
Maybe it was, is, pride.
Maybe it is just understanding the value of money and not wanting to unfairly take what someone else has earned.
But mostly, it's shame and the idea within my head that I am letting the people around me down. That I am unsuccessful.
It's probably important to note, I still lived at home with a roof over my head, clean clothes in my cupboard, a warm shower at night, and food on the table no matter what.
In the grand scheme of things, my problems weren't that bad but they felt bad to me.
I remember sitting at my Grandfather's kitchen table.
Mum kindly reminded me something was due.
"Have you paid it?" she asked.
And after having a bad day my facade of 'being okay' completely gave way to anger and frustration.
And then guilt. Why was I shitty with mum?
It wasn't her fault I was earning less than it cost me to live.
And so, I burst into tears of defeat, right there and then in front of them both. (Not a common occurrence).
My Grandfather smiled slightly, remembering fondly that feeling… those days he was in my position.
He told me stories of his struggle, as he spoke he smiled widely and occasionally laughed.
These were fond memories of his, although I'm sure he felt a similar way to me at the time.
As I lay in bed that night I thought about my Grandfather's achievements in life; his successful business, his farms.
I guess growing up I had never given a second thought to my Grandparent's finances.
I saw them working hard constantly. That was just them.
In my head, they were adults, they just had money.
I had never thought of the journey it took them to get there.
Of the hard work, the sacrifices and the decisions they made.
Even as I had gotten older, I never gave thought to the struggle they endured to earn what they have.
To know he was too was in my position when he was younger gave me hope and inspiration.
This, this is my struggle.
Years later, I still have money problems.
And I would be lying if I said it doesn't still get me down at times.
When am I ever going to get ahead in life? When am I ever going to stop struggling?
Mark Manson wrote in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck that we never really do stop. Life is just a continuous stream of struggles. Once one struggle is over, we move onto the next. But, Manson reckons, we get the choice in life to decide what is worth struggling for.
And while I'm sharing people's wise advice, remember; life's a climb - Miley Cyrus.
You see, the truth is, I am ahead in life. Ahead of where I was.
I have overcome the struggle of groceries, petrol, bills but instead am faced with the struggle of not being able to afford to buy my own house yet.
And once this next struggle is over, there will be a million more ahead of me.
I guess the point is; at twenty-two or fifty-two, in a low paying job or in a high paying job you are never going to have enough money. How much is enough? How long is a piece of string?
I have a long road ahead of me struggling and while it’s good to keep looking forward at where you want to be, or what you want to have, it's also important to take moments to look back at where you have been and how far you have come.
Instead of getting down about your current struggle, or the one you know is ahead. Look back at the ones you have graduated from
*This can also apply quite literally when walking up a big steep hill, trust me.