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Keeping a Balanced View of Money

04/10/2024 Written by: Kristine Simmons

The drive to acquire money can warp your values. Having a lot of it can blind you to key realities about yourself. And when you're obsessed with it, it can act as the yardstick by which you measure all things and even people. Yet money is absolutely necessary to live.

Since money is a necessary part of daily life and must be accumulated during the working years to meet basic needs in retirement, how can you keep a balanced view of it?

Philosophy professor Jacob Needleman has provided some wise advice. Having taught for decades at San Francisco State University, Needleman not only studied the effects of wealth from an academic perspective, but his Silicon Valley connections put him on intimate terms with many people who had become overnight millionaires.1

In the late 1990s, at the height of the first dotcom boom, tech journalist Michael Malone sat down with Needleman for an interview. The following are a few of his surprising insights (paraphrased for length).

Does having a lot of money free you from worrying about the details of life?
No. Let's say you're a worrier. If you worry about vegetables when you're poor, you'll worry about yachts when you're rich. Having a lot of money only amplifies who you are.

What's the most common misconception people have about money?
That it won't change them. Money tempts people to forget that we have a limited life span. That we're meant to love and serve, not just get.

How can wealth change people?
Having a lot of money can be like a drug. It can make you feel powerful and giddy and convince you that life is going to be nothing but smooth sailing. However, it can also have the opposite effect, making you feel humble. Then it can be useful.

How can someone keep from being overwhelmed by money?
Find someone to talk to, someone who can help you see past the drive to simply get and spend.

One of the benefits of saving for retirement over decades is that it gives you time to gain a healthy perspective on money. It's not easy to accumulate and should be managed wisely. With our help you can have the conversations and follow the plan that will ensure your money is working for you and not the other way around.

1. "Money and the Meaning of Life," Fast Company, June-July 1997


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