“Don’t cry about money, it never cries for you.” – Says Kevin O’Leary, the guy that usually comes to mind when I think of money. Some may think of money as the cause of evil while others see it as a blessing, to Kevin, money is a tool. Regardless of which category you are in, as traders, we are dealing with money every day, investing it, losing it, earning it and our main goal is to make more of it. It’s not hard to see how it can become an obsession. So, is there a right or wrong when it comes to money and what it brings with it? In which case, I suppose there are some deep philosophical questions to answer; is money important? Does it bring happiness? Is it good or bad?
Money & Happiness
Can money make you happier? The first argument for relating money with happiness could be that it will increase your life quality and also result in better health for you and your family. However, you could also argue that helping others, experiencing life and love is what brings happiness. But then again, can you really be happy with an empty stomach or travel and experience life if you are sick and can’t afford medicine because you’re broke? Let’s pretend you say “screw money, I want to become a doctor and help others”. That’s a great sentiment and may well bring you happiness but somebody needs to pay for the equipment and medicine so we are back to where we started money. It may not bring happiness but it surely is necessary to achieve your wants, needs, and goals.
Who says love is free? Watch what Kevin O’Leary has to say about it:
But what if you could afford to own and fly a Boeing 707 full of doctors and medicines to a disaster area? John Travolta did this in 2010 to help Haitians after the earthquake. I know, most papers were focused on the fact that he brought his Scientologists friends along but hey, the guy flew surgeons, tons of food and medical supplies so it counts for something. I’m sure helping so many in need brought happiness to him – perhaps a lot more than the price of a Boeing 707. In the end, it just depends on the individual. For most of us a blend of the two is best, use some to take care of ourselves and some to take care of others in order to achieve maximum happiness.
Money & Greed
Does it mean you need to afford airplanes to be happy? I mean, does the amount of money increase your life quality and level of happiness? Should you always hunt for more money? Isn’t this one of the psychological traps traders must avoid?
“What we do know is that how you use your money can have a dramatic impact on your happiness.” – Quote from Jean Chatzky on Forbes.com – she is the author of “Make Money, Not Excuses” among other books.
I agree with Jean Chatzky, it all comes down to how you use it and not how much you have. If you are a narcissist and spend all your money to boost your own ego, then any amount of money will most likely never make you happy. You will buy that big house on the beach, that sports car and the gold chains but what’s next? Soon you will find out that you have no purpose anymore and you realize you can never reach true happiness regardless of what you buy. In this case, I would say that it’s a chicken or the egg scenario… I mean, does greed come first or does it come with money? Considering someone like Warren Buffet who has thus far donated over 28 billion dollars to charity and aims to donate 99% of his wealth while he is alive, I suppose you can’t blame the money for the greed!
For us traders money is a sign of our success. When we win a trade we make money and since we want to keep on winning, and winning more consistently, it could be easy to confuse greed with the desire for success. What it comes down to is what you do with your money that counts and the more you have the more you can do.
Money & Freedom
Ever felt like leaving everything behind and just go anywhere you like? Escaping that stressful job, a bad relationship or whatever you are tired of dealing with, day in and out so you can spend your time trading from a tropical island sounds nice. Yes, you can do all that if you have enough cash and don’t have to respond to anyone. However, the free money can bring is more than just escaping the hardships of an everyday life. During a war people with no money often have no choice but to stay in the war zone, if their pockets are full on the other hand, they can bribe themselves out of the country to a nice place and start a new life. From this perspective, you could say money equals liberty because it can provide freedom in a number of ways.
On the other side of the coin though is the risk of becoming consumed by money, overpowered by the need to have more. People who serve money can find themselves enslaved by the need to make more, or by the inability to part with it.
A Curse or a Blessing?
Can we possibly come to a conclusion after the observations above? Does more money equal more happiness or is it just a curse? Jean Chatzky said “I wrote a whole book on this subject and have to admit, I’m still somewhat perplexed by the answer”.
If someone who wrote a whole book on this subject after doing lots of research is still not sure what the correct answer is, then perhaps there isn’t a straight answer to this question. Then again, if we analyze different people and how they have used their wealth in favor of not only themselves but others or against others we can at least say that money is just a tool.
How you use that tool depends on your personality and goals. If you are greedy and your goals suck, then all the money in the world is not enough to make you happy. On the other hand, if your end goal is good for you and others, then you don’t need 28 billion dollars to reach true happiness, of course, the more you have the more you can help out! So, my conclusion, don’t wait for those billions, make that 10, 20 or 50 dollar donation to charity, or buy a gift for a loved one, and focus on living well and experiencing life instead of working for the money. Keep on trading and strive to make good trades because with good trades comes the money. With that mindset, if you actually make it big you will have a nice life and if you don’t, you can still have a good life!