BPB on Money

Spending our money.

Now, I don’t know much about economics or the deep implications of the concept of ‘debt’, but I gather (mostly from Twitter) that the spending review is not going down so well. Some crazy things are being said (again, on Twitter). Anyway, what I do know is that the Government doesn’t have any money of its own. It will always come from elsewhere — mostly from us. As I said, I don’t really know anything at all about this. So I’m not going to try and say anything super meaningful here. But it is a weird thought…That the Government doesn’t have any of its own money.

What with Christmas right around the corner, money is on our minds more than ever. It’s impossible to escape the unashamed tones of consumerism during this jolly season — arguably, it’s pretty impossible for all the other times of the year as well, in the UK especially.

Money makes dreams come true but also has the power to crush us. Of course, ultimately it doesn’t have any intrinsic value. We all made an agreement at some point that we’d use something — that we would eventually call ‘money’ — as an exchanging tool for all the other things we actually needed, like sheep and stuff — (this might not be a strictly historical account but let’s go with it.) Instead of being like: “I will swap you my sheep for your wood” (which is bad if the wood-swapper doesn’t want a sheep), we can say “I will swap you some of this nice money, which you can then use to get anything else you may need, like fish or metal, for your wood.” “Deal.”

People give money value by continuing to agree that money is the thing we all exchange for other things. Other than that, it’s not really worth anything. Money is just….trust.

Isn’t it funny how money dictates so much about our lives and yet doesn’t have any innate value? Of course, the fact that it doesn’t have any innate value doesn’t mean that the value we lay on it means nothing. We stick to the agreement because if we didn’t there’d be utter chaos. But maybe if we were a little less ignorant about money and how the pure concept of it works, it wouldn’t have quite so much power to direct the course of our lives. We must constantly remind ourselves of the distinction between money and real worth.

What has worth: Our families & friends, meaningful work, our spirituality, our education, our health, our safety and happiness? So the question is then, are we spending money in a way that somehow improves or cultivates these things? And, to take it further, are we spending money in a way that improves or cultivates these things for everyone across the world?

Speaking for myself, no. I’m not doing that. This evening, I bought some overpriced ‘Gü Zillionaire’s Puds’ (so appropriate) on the way home. It may have marginally increased my happiness but, taking into account the negative effects of all that sugar on my health, it probably doesn’t count as a worthwhile purchase. And it certainly won’t have any beneficial effect beyond me and my stomach.

As I mentioned in a previous BPB post, the findings show that people live in direct accordance with how much they earn (maybe that’s obvious). Seemingly from the evidence, people think they’re always on the line — surviving on ‘just enough’. But if it was ‘just enough’ when they were earning £25,000, why is it still only ‘just enough’ now they’re earning £40,000? If we exclusively spent our money on things that had real worth (meaning things that actively better something on our ‘worth-list’ above) would people still perpetually believe they’re just about surviving rather than living well? Can making our spending more worthwhile give us the satisfaction that we’re all desperately reaching for?

Think twice before you make those ‘luxury’ purchases this Christmas. Do you need that jacket? That high-tech gadget? Those Tampons…?

Originally published at bedpostblonde.tumblr.com. (25/11/2015)

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