“You need to learn the value of money”. That was something I, and I imagine a lot of other people heard as a child. But that’s quite a strange thing to say. Surely the value of money is obvious, a penny is a penny and a pound is a pound. But is this really true?
The question is not a matter of economics as it might look at first sight. Rather it is a question of perspective. To the rich man driving his Aston Martin what is five pounds? It’s loose change that he leaves on his dressing table. It’s what he gives to the collection plate on Sundays; it’s what he pays to have his soul saved.
But to the homeless guy sleeping in a doorway as the drizzle comes down around him, it’s a good meal and a hot drink. It could also be oblivion, time of undisturbed sleep induced by amber liquid from a plastic bottle. Whichever way that he chooses to spend the money it will be a special event even if it’s only for a short time.
This may seem like a very obvious thing to say but really it is merely only scratching the surface of what shapes our perspective towards the value of money. There are people in the world with great riches who will haggle over a few pennies and there are people in the world who merely scrape to get by but they don’t hesitate to spend money when they get it. Some people horde and other people splurge there cash. It’s all a matter of perspective again.
Where does this perspective come from? A reaction to our parents’ attitudes towards money must play an important role in developing how we ourselves feel. If our parents drum into us the need to save, encourage us to do so and show us the benefits then we to, may well become savers. If however, we as young people are deprived because of this attitude then it could well be the case that we rebel against this trend of thought and become more frivolous about financial matters. Our parents could be exceedingly poor and then when we ourselves are free as young adults, without children or responsibilities money seems to be in almost endless supply. Then responsibility hits and we become like our parents, scraping to survive. At that point there is no ability to save.
There is also nowadays a distorting factor. That is credit cards. We can go on massive shopping sprees without spending a single real penny. We don’t hand over cash so is the money really real. The answer to the question of whether or not credit cards distort our perspective of money is an easy one. The real question would be by how much, but I think that is a debate for another time.
From this mere scratch on the surface of this subject it seems that status or upbringing do not alone give us a true sense of the value of money. The news is constantly, every hour, filled with news of how much our money is worth. These figures only show what our money is worth to other people. The only person who can know the true value of money to you is you and because of this fact I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you measure it in.