Is Thinking About Money Bad?

by Adam on May 24, 2010

Welcome Carnival of Personal Finance Blog readers. My “Should I Invest Using Pre-Tax or Post-Tax Money?” post is here (sorry for any confusion!).

On Saturday a friend of mine and reader of Magical Penny told me that I think about money too much.

I couldn’t argue with him because he’s right: I do think about money a lot.

Afterall, I write a blog about money management and investing (!).

However I wanted to explore the idea because there’s a misconception, amongst some, that thinking about money and aspiring for riches is a bad thing.

“Thinking about Money”

While my friend is right to say I think about money more than most, this misses the point. I think everyone should think more about their money and how to grow it to riches –but not as an end in itself.

Thinking about growing your money “just because” can lead to greed and emptiness, and no-one wants that.

But instead, you should be growing your pennies for loftier goals: to ultimately make a positive change in the world.

Hanse Selye put it well when he cautioned about money as an end rather than a means:

“A clear distinction must be made between our final aims  -the ultimate achievements that give purpose to life – and the means through which we hope to achieve them. For example, money is never a final aim; it has no value in itself. It can only act as a means, helping us to reach some ultimate goal which, to us, has inherent value

So when I think about money it is not wrong because it will help me achieve my long term non-monetary goals:  money acts only as an enabling tool.

Money Don’t Equal Happiness but…

Certainly money isn’t required for happiness, but Ihave made the conscious choice that eventually I will have enough money (to have accumulated enough ‘value’) to:

  • continue having an exciting life indefinitely
  • to not be reliant on other people’s generosity or government subsidy when I can’t create income;
  • to make a positive monetary difference to projects close to my heart.

I also realise that small savings now can have a huge impact over the long term. To me it’s a really simple decision: not to spend as much now while I’m young, to enable a more abundant future.

Earl Nightingale in “The Strangest Secret”, is famous for saying that:

“men become what they think about.”

And how:

“success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal”.

I understand that I could so easily wake up 40 years from now and not be where I want to be. Life happens so fast, so in order to make sure I achieve these goals I obviously need to think about how I am going to make it happen.

How about you?

What do you think about every day? Are you making positive steps towards any of your goals on a consistant basis?

Ultimately “Thinking about money” is just one positive part of your personal development if you wish  to build and create the best life you can:  A life full of options, flexibility and freedom.

And it really is possible, especially if you start early!

If you can spare 30 minutes today I highly recommend you listen to Earl Nightingale’s speech: “The Strangest Secret” from the 1950s.  It’s audio-only so just click the link or watch below and listen while you’re at your computer doing whatever you’re doing.

I guarantee you’ll get something out of it (and he has the most fantastic voice too!)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }


I agree… money is a tool, a means and not an end. Ultimately, we put it towards things that are important to us, and our checkbooks illustrate that.

Thinking about growing your money is okay, because money gives you options. But worrying about not having enough doesn’t help you. And thinking money solves all problems won’t help either.

Bret @ Hope to Prosper

You are right that people are what they think about, all day long. People spend so much time thinking and talking about TV shows like Lost or Survivor. Or, they spend all of their time talking about what others are doing and buying or whom they are dating. At least thinking about money has some tangible benefits. People are going to think about something, so it may as well be something useful.

BTW, I love The Strangest Secret. It’s is one of the greatest motivational pieces ever. I had the audio tape back in the ’90s and I wore it out listening to it on my way to work. I was so bummed when it finally died. Thanks for the link to the online version.


I’ve thought about this subject before, pondered writing about it myself. You have to focus on money somewhat. However, constantly worrying over acquiring more money or the lack of money can take away from life. I want to thoroughly enjoy this life, with minimal worry. Reviewing money mistakes or constantly thinking of earning more money or ways to invest better are okay things to think about for brief periods. But then it’s time to take the dog for a walk, visit a state park, or create a fantastic dinner, or even (if you can afford to) plan your next vacation.

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