Money can be a weapon of mass distractionBy Efren Ll. Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Question: We get the feeling that all we do, day in and day out, is to make money to fund our family’s lifestyle. Is that all that life has to offer?—Worn-out Parents
Answer: Obviously, life has much more to offer than just making money. Making money should never be your goal in life. Morbid as it may sound, fast forward to your deathbed and ask yourself if you led a good life.
To some, a good life would mean having provided the best education they could afford for their children. To others, it would mean having passed on virtues, values and tradition to their children. Yet to others, it would mean having loved their spouse the best way they could. And still to others, it would mean having shared their time and talents with the less fortunate.
Money doesn’t figure in any of these. After all, money is just a tool to achieve a greater end—happiness, peace of mind and wellbeing.
That’s right, money is just a tool. No company in its right mind would put the pursuit of money as part of its vision and mission. And neither should we. If by chance we have not been endowed with much money, learn the virtue of contentment—it is not a matter of getting what you like that counts, it is more of liking what you get. Remember that money in itself is not evil, it is the love of money that is.
The problem begins when we think of money in itself as the end. Avoiding the problem is not that easy. With more money, we can buy a better house, a sportier car, travels outside of the country, big-screen TVs, the latest cell phones, faster and brainier PCs and many more. That’s probably why we spend most of our life focused on making more money. Unfortunately, this is where greed sets in. And when greed sets in, so do problems, including the never-ending pursuit of money.
Doesn’t that scene look familiar? Isn’t that the point when we start to ask if this is all that life has to offer?
The same goes for investing. I have seen people who became obsessed with their investment because it made a great deal of money for them. Having tasted the rewards, they yearn for more, only to be met with disappointment when the return on their favorite investment started to head south.
You should be able to arrive at a target investment return if you set your financial goals the SMART way (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). Once you earn that target return, SELL. There is no need to go after more returns. Let your money rest for a while and wait for your favorite investment’s price to come down and make it attractive for you to come back in. In the Philippines, stock investing is more of trading rather than buy and hold.
This is why we always include values enhancement (not formation) in our training programs. We are all inherently good and we possess all the values we need in life. We just need to strengthen the good beliefs arising from these values so that we are able to avoid material temptations, especially those coming from greed.
We can teach all the practical tips in the world about managing wealth. But if proper beliefs are not highlighted and enhanced, these tips will all be for naught.
I had once been asked by a training participant if she should pay her officemate for managing her direct investments in the stock market. My first question to her was how in the world was her officemate able to manage her investments. Her reply was that this officemate was so focused on stock investing that the first thing he would do when he reached the office was to turn to the stock market. Aha! Then who is doing the work of that officemate in the company? Multiply such distraction by the number of employees in a company who are moonlighting and you have a situation where money becomes a weapon of mass distraction.
As a weapon of mass distraction, money will distract us from the more important things in life. Just focusing on money is like driving a car with our mind fixated on the speedometer. We want to drive as fast as we can just for the thrill of it. Will we get to our destination in one piece? Obviously, we won’t.
This is probably why accidents happen on the killer highway, Commonwealth Avenue, almost every day before the imposition of the 60-kilometer per hour speed limit.
The overall goal should be to get from point “A” to point “B” safely, in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Focus on making the most money and you also begin to step on other people just to get your way, spend less time with people who matter the most to you and, yes, even distance yourself from your Maker who makes all things possible in the first place.
If you want to see how we train people on setting the right goals and learning how to be content, come join us on October 27 for another EnRich program. As a special treat, we are giving away five free seats to the first HR practitioners who will attend. Visit www.personalfinance.ph or www.income-tacts.com or call (02) 216-1541 for details.
Here’s to a life focused on the right things.
(Efren Ll. Cruz is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines, personal finance coach, investment adviser and author. Questions about the article may be sent by SMS to 0917-505-0709 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the RFP program, visit www.rfp.ph or e-mail email@example.com.)
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