Money: it drives our careers, our homes, and our choices in life. Where you go to college, what job you take, and where you go on vacation are just some of the decisions we make based on money. There are countless books, websites, TV shows and courses dedicated to it. In fact, it garners so much attention and has so much control over our lives that it's no wonder we all secretly hate it. Here are five reasons why. (Find out why time really is money, in Understanding The Time Value Of Money.)
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- You Don't Have Enough
This is probably the number one reason you hate money. Money is hard to make, but easy to spend, and people always want more. We often think, "if only I made just X dollars more, everything would be fine," yet when that number is reached, we find that the increase in income hasn't solved the problems at hand, or worse, they are increased. More often than not, money problems grow as your paycheck does. Spending habits that have you living check to check, or that are hampering you with debt, remain in place no matter how much you're making. The solution is to change the way you look at your money; consider what that extra $50 you want to spend on a dinner out could pay for instead, and you might realize that it adds up to enough money to take that vacation or buy Christmas gifts without relying on plastic. Making careful money choices doesn't have to mean you never have fun, but it will help you to prioritize your needs vs. your wants. (Find out how to work with collection agencies to reduce your payments, in Negotiating A Debt Settlement.)
- You Don't Understand It
If talk about bulls and bears turns your thoughts to the local zoo, you may hate money because you don't understand it. The financial arena is a whole other world with lots to learn and many areas to explore. Taking even a few minutes each morning to read some basic money management articles or books could help you decipher what the heck that Jim Cramer is talking about. More importantly, educating yourself, however slowly, will help you to appreciate how your hard-earned dollars can work as hard as you do to increase your overall wealth.
- It Makes Situations Awkward
We've all been at a party somewhere when someone (maybe it was you!) brings up the subject of compensation: how much does everyone make? While among close friends or family this may not be a strange conversation to have, it's generally a topic best left for salary negotiations at your next work review. Money can also make the end of a night out awkward, as you and your group of friends or your date dance the check-paying money mambo. Who should pay what? Does everyone have cash? What about that friend who never tips; who is going to kick in to cover his share? It sure would be easier if we didn't have to deal with the money part.
- It Limits Your Ability to Live
While we may not always look at it this way, money influences every one of our life choices. You might have always wanted to live in New York City, but there's no way you could afford the cost of living there. Perhaps you found your dream job, but it pays half of what you make now; could you swing it? And then there are the major ones: marriage, children and divorce. Can you afford any (or all) of the above? Is it worth it, or should you just stay as you are? It's strange to think that this exterior force would have such a profound impact on our life stories, but it's true. (Learn how to have open discussions about finances, in Talking About Money When Times Are Tough.)
- It Causes You Stress
Whether you don't understand it, if you don't have enough or if it's limiting your life choices, money can be a huge source of stress. And when you are stressed, it affects your whole life: your relationships, your work and your health. In fact, a 2008 American Psychological Association survey showed that 50% of Americans were stressed over providing basic needs for their families. With 43% of Americans spending more than they earn each year, it's no wonder that money, and debt in particular, is a huge source of stress.
The Bottom Line
Even having money can be stressful, if we don't know how to manage it. While we continue to worry about how we are going to pay that credit card bill and if we have enough money to buy a second car, remember that it is only money. It is an important part of your life and your responsibilities, but it shouldn't take over everything. If you feel overwhelmed, try taking a walk – it is free, after all.
Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: Google Gains, Taxpayers Pay.