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Section 10
Contradicting Attitudes about Money

Question 10 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed Yes's and should's and what stops you from saying no is fear.k

In this section, we will examine the contradicting attitudes about money: Money is good; and money is evil.

"Money can't buy happiness." "Money is the root of all evil." Are these staple philosophies in your life? If they are, good, but how far should we go in shunning all financial comfort? Do you ever wish you could give up your job just so you didn't have to go back to the everyday droll? Do you sometimes want the holiday vacation to last forever?

Twenty-nine year old Josh loved Christmas. For him, the stress of buying presents and decorating his apartment was worth the time off from his job. Whenever the weeks of freedom began to diminish, Josh fell into extreme depression. One day in January, Josh decided to quit his job altogether. He had no plan of providing for himself; just that now he knew he would be happier without the stress of financial burdens.

Josh decided to travel the country. However, soon enough, worries began to pile up. How was he going to pay for his next meal? Where would he sleep? These anxieties quickly became more burdensome than the job itself. Interestingly enough, the job that he feared returning to was actually an excellent way of relieving anxiety. Although he hated returning to work, it actually saved him from the greater concerns of merely surviving. Do you ever feel how Josh felt about his job?

On the other end of the financial spectrum are those people who believe that money brings happiness. In today's society, they are labeled as "miserly" and "greedy". During the holidays, the disparity between these two extremes becomes even more apparent. So where do you fit on the financial philosophy spectrum? Let's find out.

3-Step "Holiday Finance Reflection" Technique
To place yourself on the timeline of financial philosophy, you might consider trying the "Holiday Finance Reflection" exercise.

#1: Make a list of all the gifts you bought this Christmas season along with the recipient's name.
#2: Write down the reason, the honest reason, that you bought this specific gift for this specific person. If you have multiple reasons, feel free to list them. For example, "I bought the Power Ranger Doll for Steve because it was cheap and he likes television."
#3: Now review your list of reasons. Were they financially motivated or were they motivated by a sincere understanding of the person's character?

One of the greatest concerns as the days of gift giving approaches is how much you will be able to spend on your loved ones' presents. You don't want to disappoint. Then, once the unwrapping is done, you look at your depleted bank account in disbelief at all the money that is now not there. You then feel guilty about being so selfish and assure yourself that in giving you receive.

What you should be aware of is that your concerns are well founded. You don't have to be ashamed of worrying about your financial situation, even if the cause was good hearted. A healthy watchfulness over your income is part of creating a stable environment for yourself. Without this steady income, you would not be able to survive.

This is evidence of the dynamic in society today. Two distinct attitudes hold sway: "money is wonderful" and "money is evil." Since both are extremes, it is in the balance between these beliefs that you will find happiness. It is almost impossible to find this mean without changing your pattern.

Susan and Phil were a young couple who spent most of their money on lavish parties around Christmas and New Year's. They worked at modestly paying jobs and their expenses drastically outweighed their income. They were living well beyond their means and consistently fell into debt. Even when Phil got a promotion at his job, the new influx of money soon disappeared as they continued to spend more than they had.

Do you see the pattern that Susan and Phil had fallen into? Are you in a similar pattern that you know you should probably break? What then can be done once a pattern of this kind is established? The following exercises should help.

♦ 6-Step Identifying Money Problem Patterns & Making a Plan
Before you begin this exercise, it is probably a good idea to not allow any self-criticism to enter into the process. You might find yourself wanting to side with the angry voice inside in order to bring about change. Usually, remorse does not really motivate. This desire to attack yourself stems from the part of you that values conflict. Pain arises from conflict, and pain will only take you so far.

Step 1: Close your eyes and think in a very general way about your experiences with money. Just let various scenes come to mind. As you do this be conscious of your anxiety level and write down the kinds of things that are the most disturbing. You are not looking for just one or two embarrassing or difficult moments, but for a pattern. Briefly describe one or more patterns of this sort. What sort of patterns can you detect in your everyday life?

Step 2: Take only one of these recurring problems, perhaps the one that is the most time-consuming, and ask yourself what are the kinds of thoughts and feelings, and especially what are the circumstances, that come before and surround an outbreak of this pattern?

Step 3: Using whatever relaxation technique or mental trick you wish, quiet your body and mind and rest for a few seconds. First, look at the set of circumstances that usually attend your special problem with money. Then look at the problem itself. What are some simple ways to bypass the circumstances that trigger the problem? You are not necessarily interested in discovering how to change the circumstances themselves so much as in seeing how to avoid them.

Step 4: Concentrate on exactly what is happening around you whenever you are the least bit excited or fearful about money matters. To do this, you must become very conscious of anything at all that has to do with money.

Step 5: Now, return your attention to that specific pattern. Ask yourself what you now want to do about this problem. Remember to allow yourself any option and then decide on one simple step. Let it be a plan that you are confident is within your present readiness to carry out. Record this plan, and then try it.

Step 6: Keep repeating #5 and trying new measures until you have walked past the pattern. Write the date and the step you try first, and below that, the dates and steps you take later. Finally, record the date when you think the problem is behind you. You need not be absolutely certain of this, but do wait until you have a sense of honesty about making this last entry.

Susan and Phil found that when they felt they had to impress anyone, they went on a spending spree. They discovered that their need to impress overshadowed their basic daily necessities. Susan and Phil decided to invite less people to their gatherings and invited only very close friends. By doing this, they reduced the pressure on themselves to entertain every single person that came.

In this section, we discussed the contradicting attitudes about money: Money is good; and money is evil.

In the next section, we will examine how possessions affect attitudes: as signs of personal wealth; as a reflection of inadequacy; and as an expression of your surroundings.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Bardeen, J. R., & Fergus, T. A. (2020). Emotion regulation self-efficacy mediates the relation between happiness emotion goals and depressive symptoms: A cross-lagged panel design. Emotion, 20(5), 910–915.

Chan-Brown, K., Douglass, A., Halling, S., Keller, J., & McNabb, M. (2016). What is money? A qualitative study of money as experienced. The Humanistic Psychologist, 44(2), 190–209. 

Lay, A., & Furnham, A. (2019). A new money attitudes questionnaire. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 35(6), 813–822.

Raeder, S.-M., Bone, J. K., Patai, E. Z., Holmes, E. A., Nobre, A. C., & Murphy, S. E. (2019). Emotional distraction in the context of memory-based orienting of attention. Emotion, 19(8), 1366–1376. 

What are two contradicting views about money? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 11
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