Thursday, November 13, 2008

Merely Useful

"Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else." - Aristotle

This quote has resonated with me quite a bit recently. I've always believed that money isn't everything (it is merely useful), and yet, I can't deny that money matters (it is useful). For me, wealth or money has been useful in securing me an education. I have the luxury of reading and studying for 8+ hours a day because I can afford not to work for the present time. And for that, I am daily grateful. 

Material wealth by itself can't buy happiness or love, but it can be a vehicle to further opportunity. It can provide us with education, health care, and security, among other things. 

What useful purpose does money serve in your life?


Burbanmom said...

As my dear old Dad always said "Money can't buy happiness - but it can help you avoid some discomfort."

I have lived both sides of the coin - growing up very poor, then having a career with more money than a young 20-something should - right back to jobless and nearly losing our home - and fortunately, now a comfortable, middle class income.

Money, to me, is something that should never be taken for granted, regardless of your current wealth. It is a "come easy, go easy" commodity and anyone can make it - or lose it - in the blink of an eye. Use it wisely. Save what you can, but enjoy it too. After all, you can't take it with you.

Anonymous said...

i am by definition living below the poverty line (spending more than 30% of my income on housing - i spend 49% of my income on my place) but this is precisely the purpose that money plays in my life. i choose to put myself in this pickle, because it's important for me to have this place. i can't do the things i want to do (namely getting my undergrad degree) if i live with my family. so while i don't enjoy "wealth", i do have the comfort of a humble bachelor apartment which is my own and allows me my freedom and security. if i had more money i would travel a hell of a lot more. and i would get a place that accomodated all of my needs, closer to the city's centre.

Farmer's Daughter said...

For us, money means having a safe, warm (but not too warm!) home, nutritious food, and other necessities. We don't buy things to show off how much money we make. A lot of our friends are in debt due to that fact, but we're comfortable having what we can afford and living within our means.

Joyce said...

We have the saying, "Save some, spend some, share some." It's a tool you need for living, and you do owe it to your family to have some thing set aside for emergencies, but it's also a tool for improving the world around you.

Anonymous said...

Money for me means choice. Growing up poor...we had no choice. We ate what was cheap, wore what was handed down, and lived where we could afford. Now that my budget isn't quite so tight I can choose what is BEST for my family...not just what has to be. I am profoundly grateful for the difference.

Anonymous said...

A roof over our heads and food in our belly. On the less impractical side, it has gotten us our two new vehicles. Rather than having to buy them completely based on cost, we were able to get something we wanted that was also practical.

Sadly, money does make the world go 'around and you can't get away from that. So we work at jobs we don't particularly like to ensure that we won't be cold and hungry and we can retire without starving to death. Maybe one day that will change.

Natalie said...

Even as a small child I remember being burdened with horrible *buyer's remorse*. "If I ask for this gift, I can't also have that gift." It didn't take me long to understand the concept of *opportunity cost*.

So I've never been a very good consumer. And it turns out that I enjoy having money more than I enjoy spending it. Obviously, to me, having it affords me a greater sense of opportunity. It brings me comfort and some measure of happiness.

Money is far from my sole source of happiness. Right now, I trade staying home with the kids for more family income. And it's not as hard for me to part with my money as it may sound.

But when I do *use* my money, I (subconsciously?) insist that I'm getting the thing that makes me happiest. That often doesn't mean bargain shopping. For example I enjoy supporting my local economy, eating fresh organics, having cultural experiences and family adventures, purchasing sustainable products, etc. I also enjoy giving charitably. I guess all of those things come with social benefits. One thing I have been a bit remiss in is green investing.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

The less money you have, the less that money seems "merely useful." We're trying to sell a house in a downward plummeting market, and we've already moved so that means we have two house payments right now. I've been forced to take a hard look at my spending habits, and it ain't pretty.

I often wonder what people who are really, really wealthy do with all that money. I'm talking about people who have so much money that it's not just useful but an afterthought. Like I heard on NPR the other day that the CEO of Circuit City (which just declared bankruptcy) was making 8 million dollars a year. What do you do with 8 million dollars a year??? On the other hand, if Circuit City had paid their CEO a reasonable amount - even a measly one million dollars a year - maybe they could have paid the rest of their employees better or made some better investing decisions for the company.

Jennie said...

Right now money has allowed my husband and I to move back to our home town, thus providing happiness and giving us the security to take our time to find jobs. I found one and my husband is still looking-stress free.