Let’s cut through money’s mumbo-jumbo

As Lu put it, the most common way we keep from dealing with our money issues is to cloud our relationship with their existence. We, as a society, have found many ways to keep the reality of money at arm’s length. We have developed effective words and phrases that keep us from really talking about money. And we have mystified personal money management so much that someone like a certified public accountant may seem superhuman.

Even a holistic CPA like her. OK, I’ll go along with that.

She added that we know any change can be difficult and will usually be resisted by those around us. So, we have lots of excuses not to do it. Keeping money unreal also lets us continue to avoid our responsibility for the money that flows through our lives. Most important, though, it helps keep us powerless. When we are ready to change, to take responsibility for our money energy and to take back our economic power, we can we do it by getting real with money.

That’s the thrust of her work — step by step identifying all the ways we cloud our relationship with money. Once we are aware of our “mind games,” we can choose to change our participation in the games, one at a time.

She would start with some of the ways we manage to avoid even touching the stuff. Remember, money or currency developed to make the barter or exchange of things easier. As she said, without it we had to accept a lion’s pelt in exchange for a bunch of our baskets when what we really needed was a few beautiful seashells to decorate our headdress. Somehow, though, gold and other media of exchange got a bad name, so we developed paper substitutes.

Writing checks to pay for things we need or want is very different from the feeling of paying with cash. At least, though, we are encouraged to keep track of where we sent our money and how much we have left.

Several decades ago, the plastic industry set a goal to put a piece of plastic in everyone’s pocket, and the credit card was born. This made it possible to completely ignore the connection of working for money and spending it! The ultimate disconnection comes from our Automated Teller Machines. Lu heard a child respond to her mother’s comment, “We don’t have enough money,” with, “Oh, no! We can just go to the Money Machine!”

It must be that money is dirty. That’s why we’re trying to hard to keep from touching it. That may also explain why we aren’t supposed to talk about it, either. We have developed a lot of handy sayings about money that enable us to avoid expressing our real feelings about the money in our lives.

For instance, we may say “Money doesn’t grow on trees” instead of talking about our real struggle to earn enough to provide for our family. We tell our children, “We can’t afford it,” rather than explaining why we choose not to spend our money on what they want and why we have to spend it on other things instead. We perpetuate the misunderstanding that “money is evil” instead of taking responsibility for what we are really doing with the money that comes into our hands.

Perhaps more powerful are those big words used to describe the ways we are supposed to keep track of our money, such as: reconciliation, statements, disbursements, amortization, debits and credits, invoices and vouchers. Lu apologized from the bottom of her heart for the great disservice her profession has wrought with this language.

Well, that gives you an idea of Lu’s approach.

Sound familiar? What especially strikes you?

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