Monday, April 23, 2007

Tawdry Affairs with Money

Maybe you've done this. You met up with some money and went to town. There were expensive dinners, Broadway shows, hoppin' nightclubs, weekend getaways, luxurious hotels, and limousines. Champagne flowed. Caviar was served day and night. Diamonds, pearls, and jewel-encrusted watches--nothing was too good. You had a great time with the money, a wild time. You were beautiful. You were hot. You and the money had a terrific fling.

And then the money ran out on you. Evaporated. You learned what it was like to wake with a crick in your neck from sleeping in your car. You were wrung out, drained, hung over. With the money gone, meals were cheap and delivered fast; but the service wasn't quite the same. Limos drove by without stopping, and you spent your weekends in the park. You didn't have the price of a newspaper in your pocket, and you made the credit card company's "most wanted" list.

If you've had experiences like this, you could have a relationship problem with money. Even in America, the free enterprise capital of the world, not everyone likes having money. Some feel they don't deserve it. Others think it's wrong to have money. Successful people whose siblings and friends haven't done as well might be uncomfortable with their success, and feel cut off from long time relationships. Yet others spend to escape their problems.

If you have trouble saving, or if you have a tendency to spend, give away or otherwise separate yourself from money, ask yourself whether you might have poor relationship with money. You need the stuff to provide for your future. You don't have to like it. You don't have to crave it or enjoy having it. But you should establish an emotional truce with money so that you can get on with the business of preparing for your retirement. Perhaps you can find a therapist or psychologist to help. Perhaps talking to friends or family might help. But don't ignore the problem.

Every tawdry affair you have with money burns up some of the finite lifetime income that you should save for retirement. For most people, wealth comes from a process of gradual accumulation. A steady, long term relationship with money provides the foundation for building wealth. It may not have the passion and intensity of a fling, but many of the best things in life come from long, enduring relationships.

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