January is a dreary month. Not just because of the frigid weather, but because I always vow to do better with money. Some things stick. Some don’t. It’s also a month of bills. Car insurance payments and incessant reminders about tax time, on top of the rent, loans, and Internet. I also admit the plummeting price of Bitcoin is tough to swallow. It’s enough to give someone the fiat currency blues. All these can easily lead to despair and anguish, which isn’t helped by the cold nipping at my heels. Why does money have such a hold over my mind? It’s my slavemaster and my ticket to freedom. The driver of resentment and the bringer of joy. You can’t escape it’s omnipresence in American society.
The Stoics would say that money is a preferred indifferent. Sure, it’s nice to have more of it, but it’s not necessary to build our moral virtue. I struggle with this sentiment, since money plays such an integral role in our lives. It would be much easier to practice Temperance, Wisdom, Courage, and Justice if my personal finances were much more secure. The Stoics were not ascetics, and thus did not shun money and the trappings money brought. They acknowledged its importance and role.
What is the right attitude towards money? Should we reject it and live life apart from it in a cabin in the woods? Or should we try to gain as much as possible, so our minds will be at ease? Perhaps both of these attitudes are wrong. They would each bring their own brand of suffering. And perhaps there is truth in both. Money is neither something to fear nor lust over. It is simply a tool. And what is it a tool for? To bring value to the world. It brings trust between two different people. It incentivizes us to (maybe) use our resources in a better way.
Time to grow up then, sit down, and whip out the budget. Don’t put all hopes and dreams into Bitcoin. Stare at those loans directly and say that you’ll overcome them. Put money under your sphere of control.
Summary: Money is a tool and should not be feared nor loved.