The adage featured for today’s FANDANGO’S FEBRUARY EXPRESSIONS is:
A fool and his money are soon parted
Most people are interested in money to some extent. We all need some money. We need some money to afford shelter, food, clothing and perhaps medical costs etc. But people have widely different thoughts on how much money they need to cover the cost of those basic needs.
It is a good thing to have a little extra money so that you can show hospitality to others. That is a wonderful aspect of life. Generosity and hospitality are very desirable qualities and often help forge strong friendships with others. In addition to needs, people have wants, and for some their list of wants is a great deal longer than for others.
My parents have taught me to cultivate qualities such as contentment, modesty, a simple lifestyle, recycling, repairing my belongings etc. That has helped me to live on a very small budget ever since I left home. I find it attractive in others when they live a modest lifestyle. I would recommend judicious use of material things and thoughtful care of one’s possessions.
However, all around us, we see people spending a lot of money on flashy, luxury items. If you could see the area I live in, well the houses, the cars, the pricey boutiques, the fine restaurants…people here seem to have a lot of spare cash! A big name in the music industry moved in to a house just round the corner. The papers said they spent over £15,000,000 on their new pad! Ay karumba! Apparently they have numerous properties all over the world, so they spent £15,000,000 on a spare house!
What about the rest of us normal folk who have to check the price of things before we buy them? Well…many of us have had times when we have to watch the pennies carefully and times when we can be a bit more relaxed and have a bit of extra cash to enjoy.
There are three areas that I think can catch “a fool” out. They are:
- advertising / peer pressure
- credit / debt
- get-quick rich schemes / gambling
Friends, colleagues or advertisers may bombard us with subtle or blatant claims that we need a certain product or even a whole way of life. Electronic devices, cars, kitchen cabinets, sportswear, holidays or all sorts of other items. Think of how many times you see or hear commercial adverts, or how many times someone tells you about something they have just spent their money on and recommends the same product to you.
Even television shows have great power. There was a television drama broadcast here in the UK within the last couple of years. The lead actress was seen in a bright yellow waterproof in the show. Sales of bright yellow waterproofs went through the roof here!
Celebrity endorsements are huge in advertising. Perhaps it is the fool who wants to wear a certain colour because their favourite pop star, sports player or actor is seen wearing it! (Sorry I am still laughing about all the celebrities running around in Sainsburys uniforms!)
Then there are coffee shops as we know them today. The younger generation might not realize it, but before the television series “Friends”, we did not have coffee shops here in the UK. We had cafes. But after “Friends” became a hit show, Starbucks and all sorts of other coffee chains, with comfy seats and free wifi, sprang up on every high street.
Now, I am not complaining about coffee shops. But the influence from friends, advertisers and entertainment is enormous. A fool may try to keep up with the Jones, the Kardashians and every extra tweak Apple can think of. The fool might not realize that we all have to develop some resistance to the influences around us to spend, spend, spend!
When I was in my late teens, I began to receive junk mail. Back then some companies would post a credit card out to me with a letter to say that if I wanted it, I just needed to start using the card. I had never asked for or applied for a credit card, they just sent it to me! I understand that financial companies have had to become more responsible in who they offer or extend credit to. Many people have ended up in serious trouble because they have taken on too much debt and have not been able to manage it.
One of my favourite and perhaps one of the wisest nuggets of advice on money ever penned is this one:
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
– Wilkins Micawber (from Charles Dicken’s “David Copperfield“)
This system loves to say “BUY NOW, PAY LATER”…when what they actually should say is, “BUY NOW, PAY MORE LATER”. Often that is what credit involves. Paying extra charges and interest. Your money will go further if you save and then spend, rather than spending and then having to pay extra in interest.
On the subject of debt. People might look as if they are doing well, but appearances can be deceptive. One of our neighbours was in the newspapers recently after being declared bankrupt. The media said our neighbour had £60,000,000 worth of debt and that banks had refused to extend any further credit.
Pyramid schemes, timeshares, get rich quick schemes – there have been so many scams! Often the fool falls for them because they get so excited about the idea of huge profits from a relatively small investment. Whereas, the wiser are aware that “IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS!” What makes people fall for the bait? Could it be a touch of greed? It sometimes seems as if there are bloggers on WordPress who seem to think that blogging is a “get rich quick” scheme. Well, I can’t say anything on that subject, I have never made a penny from blogging.
That brings me to gambling. What is it that attracts people to the notion of suddenly possessing a fortune without having to do any work for it? Could that involve some greed too?
Money is a necessary tool. It is satisfying to go out and work with our own mental or physical abilities and to earn a fair wage. We know that we put time and effort in to earn that money. So we ought to use it wisely. After we have covered our basic needs, we should think about how we can use spare money to show hospitality to others and forge strong friendships. After that, we may find we have wants that will help us to enjoy life.
But don’t be a fool! Let money remain a tool. Do not become a slave to advertising, a slave to debt, or a slave to greed! Be wise! Be practical! Be content and be modest! Love life, love nature and love people. Don’t let money get in the way! The very best things in life are not those that can be bought with money.
This was my response to today’s FANDANGO’S FEBRUARY EXPRESSIONS: