We’ve all been told money sayings from well-intentioned friends and family. Maybe your mom responded to your new-toy pleas with “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” Perhaps a business-minded friend has explained, “You have to spend money to make money.”
These sayings about money are intended to be helpful guides on how you should manage and think about your finances. And they are repeated again and again, so much so that they are practically cultural norms.
In reality, though, these money sayings can be failing you in a big way. Here’s how.
“Money can’t buy happiness.”
One of the most common sayings about money is “Money can’t buy happiness.” This money mantra is supposed to help you realize that there’s more to life than money. In short, having money won’t lead to happiness.
But whoever first came up with this money saying clearly doesn’t have student loan debt. Anyone that has been face-to-face with being broke or overwhelming debt knows that a lack of money can sure cause a lot of unhappiness.
Money can buy happiness, in the form of providing security and offering more life options. If you look at famed psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you can see how money can lead to more fulfillment.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is represented as a pyramid and states that until your basic needs are met (for example, food, shelter, and employment), you won’t be able to fully prosper, be creative, or fulfill your dreams.
It’s hard to focus on being creative and pursuing bigger goals when you’re worried about paying the bills. If you have enough money to take care of your basic needs, pay back debt, and enjoy life a bit, you’ll have access to more opportunities.
By earning and saving more money, you can use it to live your best life. You’ll have options on the table and can stress less when life gets tough. In that way, money can definitely buy happiness.
“Money is the root of all evil.”
One of the money sayings that I used to fiercely believe is “Money is the root of all evil.” I thought money and greed were the cause of the world’s pain and suffering. But in my journey to pay off debt and learn about money, I realized how much this particular saying held me back.
By subscribing to the idea that money is the root of all evil, I had no care for money. Because I didn’t care for it, I didn’t manage it well and didn’t try to earn more.
I hid behind this idea, thinking I was so noble for not valuing money. Now I see how naive I was. Eventually, I found myself broke and clueless about my finances.
Money, in fact, is not evil. It’s simply a tool that you use. Money itself is a currency — on its own, it’s not good or bad. Those are simply qualitative terms we ascribe to it.
If you subscribe to this idea, consider how it can be messing up your relationship with money. What you think about money affects how you spend and manage it, and thinking money is the cause of evil can lead to a path of carelessness and frivolity.
Instead, understand money is a tool to help you reach your goals. It can be used for good, too, in the case of donating to causes or pursuing your dreams.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
This money saying is all about how cash is a finite resource, and that you must save and carefully manage what you have. While it’s a nice idiom to inspire frugality, it can also keep you trapped in a scarcity mindset.
Thinking that money doesn’t grow on trees focuses on just how little money there is to go around, and can lead you to pinch pennies. I’m all about saving a buck, but I think increasing your income is a far more powerful strategy.
When I was broke, I cut my budget to the bone and hit a plateau. Once I shifted my mindset and focused on earning more, my financial situation drastically situation.
There’s plenty of money to go around if you’re willing to put in the work. Instead of thinking that “money doesn’t grow on trees,” think of how you can plant your own money tree and make it rain!
Through side hustling, monetizing your skills, and tapping into your network, there are many ways to make money. You can get your slice of the pie, instead of focusing on how little money there is.
“You have to spend money to make money.”
If you’re starting a side hustle or a new business, there may be some costs associated with getting started. But if you’re smart about it, you can avoid falling further into debt.
Many people live by the money mantra “You have to spend money to make money.” Oftentimes, this justifies extra spending in hopes of earning more money. It’s a great way to feel good about spending money, but in reality, there are ways to save until your biz is profitable.
Learning how to get creative with expenses means that you take home more of it. I know many side hustlers and business owners that spend a lot of money because they can “write it off.” But that’s not the same as having it in your bank account.
I think this is one of the sayings about money that can get you in trouble if you’re not careful. Yes, you may occasionally need to spend more money to stay afloat, especially as you expand. But this money mantra shouldn’t be used as a blanket excuse to open your wallet. In some cases, you may spend money to make money and end up worse off.
Always weigh the costs first and understand what is worth spending money on and what is not. Look for cost-effective options before opening your wallet.
Money sayings may be doing more harm than good
These common money sayings are often treated as unquestionable advice to live by. While there are kernels of truth and some lessons to think about with each of these sayings about money, following them blindly could be failing you.
Take them with a grain of salt and understand money is a tool to enhance your life. Through budgeting, saving, and earning more, you can live life on your terms and master your money — instead of feeling ruled by it.
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