Happy New Year! I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year. To be prosperous is to flourish and thrive, which is the very nature of life. So, to strive after money, wealth, and prosperity is perfectly natural. But so is eating. We must eat if we wish to live and remain healthy. Yet, ironically, eating can also destroy our health and kill us if we overdo it, so balance is clearly called for.
The world economy was almost wiped out because of greed. Perhaps, there would be less greed if we understood the true meaning of money, wealth, and prosperity. Although money is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we discuss wealth, it should be the last. After all, money is of little consolation when your body is ravaged by illness or you are unhappy.
A few examples of true wealth are good health, happiness, friends, accomplishments, making a difference, courage, and love. So, it isn't money that will make you rich. To expand and clarify this point, I call on six people to share their wisdom:
"The day, water, sun, moon, night - I do not have to purchase these things with money." (Titus Maccius Plautus, 254~184 BC)
"It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has." (Henry Ward Beecher,
"If money is all that a man makes, then he will be poor. Poor in happiness and poor in all that makes life worth living." (Herbert N. Casson, 1869~1951)
"I'm not into the money thing. You can only sleep in one bed at a time. You can only eat one meal at a time, or be in one car at a time. So I don't have to have millions of dollars to be happy.
All I need are clothes on my back, a decent meal, and a little loving when I feel like it. That's the bottom line." (Ray Charles, 1930~2004)
"Money may be the husk of many things, but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; days of joy, but not peace and happiness." (Henrik Ibsen,
"Money will buy a bed but not sleep; books but not brains; food but not appetite; finery but not beauty; a house but not a home; medicine but not health; luxuries but not culture; amusements but not happiness." (Author Unknown)
Yes, money isn't the source of happiness, but that doesn't mean we cannot have both. After all, money is a valuable tool. How could we heal the sick, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and shelter the homeless without money? The point is, rather than pursuing money to be rich, we should pursue it because of the power it gives us to do good.
If we were fortunate enough to accumulate more than enough money, this is a good time (the New Year) to take a break and reevaluate our circumstances. That is, as we count our blessings, we should make sure we haven't lost sight of the things money can't buy, such as a good sense of humor. Humor is just as important as money; in fact, it is more so. For if we lose our money, a sense of humor will help us cope and guard our health.
It is because of the value of humor that I opened with a witty title. And while we are on the subject of humor, let me share with you some of my favorite one-liners dealing with money. Then I will get on with more serious stuff; mainly, tips on how to become more prosperous. Now for the humor.
"Money is the root of all wealth." (Author unknown)
"Money can't buy poverty." (Marty Feldman, 1934~1982)
"I just need enough (money) to tide me over until I need more."
(Bill Hoest, 1926~1988)
"Why is there so much month left at the end of the money?" (John Barrymore, 1882~1942)
"It doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor, as long as you've got money." (Joe E. Lewis, 1902~1971)
"I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something." (Jackie Mason, b. 1931)
"I've got all the money I'll ever need, if I die by four o clock." (Henny Youngman, 1906~1998)
"Anyone who says money can't buy happiness just doesn't know where to shop." (Author unknown)
"It's just as easy to be happy with a lot of money as with a little." (Marvin Traub, b. 1925)
"Money doesn't always bring happiness. A man with ten million dollars is no happier than a man with nine million dollars."
"Money talks and often just says, `Good Bye.'" (Author Unknown)
"Money cannot bring you happiness, but at least you can be miserable in comfort." (Oscar Wilde, 1856~1900)
Now that we have had our laugh, let's get serious by considering commonsense methods of growing prosperous. Remember, we have a duty to ourselves, our family, our community, our country, and the world to become as prosperous as possible, for then we will be in a better position to heal, assist and rescue, those in need.
HOW TO BECOME PROSPEROUS
1. Remain debt-free. The secret to remaining debt-free is to spend with your head, not your feelings. The advertising industry spends billions to get you to break this rule. That is, they use every psychological trick and method of persuasion to make you buy on impulse, bypassing logical thinking. Currently, eight out of ten Americans have credit card debt of $10,000 or more. If this includes you, learn how to consolidate your bills so you can pay them off as soon as possible.
2. Don't waste money. Buying on credit and paying interest is wasting money. If you wish to prosper, you need to spend LESS than you take in, not MORE. Or, as Bill Earle put it, "If your OUTgo exceeds your INcome, then your UPkeep will be your DOWNfall."
3. Spend wisely. Can you see the difference between paying for a 64" flat screen TV and college tuition? The TV is a WANT rather than a NEED, and the college tuition is an INVESTMENT in yourself that will help you to increase your earnings in the future. Learn to tell your money where to go instead of asking it where it went. Also, consider this advice from Edgar Watson Howe (1853~1937), "Money would be more enjoyable if it took people as long to spend it as it does to earn it."
4. Don't just MAKE money, MANAGE it. Do this by analyzing your income and spending habits. Separate your WANTS and NEEDS. How much of what you are spending money on is actually needed? Review all your expenditures. Simply getting a better job and earning more will not solve your debt problems because your WANTS will rise with your income. So, you've go to learn how to manage your money. You probably can cut your spending by 10~30%. After paying for the necessities, pay yourself first. That is, SAVE. Your future will not take care of itself; you are responsible for taking care of it. Prepare now.
5. Make your money work for you. Let it earn interest. No matter how small your income, it is essential that you save because you are not only building security, but you a building a habit. If you cannot manage your money when your income is small, what makes you think you will be able to when your income is large? If you wait to save in the future, it may be too late, for if you establish bad habits now, you will just continue to waste money then.
6. Be generous, yet prudent. We get what we give. If we always act generously, we will find the world treats us the same way, so by all means be generous. Yet, be prudent. Remember, not everyone returns what they borrow. Giving money to someone who has a habit of not returning it only encourages them to remain dependent on others. Don't enable them. Don't stunt their growth. Rather, teach them to depend on themselves. Besides, it is far better to anger your friend by refusing to loan money than it is to anger them when you ask for the money back.
7. Don't be penny wise and pound-foolish. Better to spend more on quality merchandise that lasts than `save' money on cheap goods that soon wear out or fall apart.
8. If you want to become rich, enrich others. How can one become rich if their attitude is to do as little as possible? The pathway to success is to make others successful and a willingness to do more than expected. The harder you work, the faster you learn, and the faster you rise.
9. Love what you do. If you don't already love what you do, either learn to love it or get another job. For it is only when we love what we do that we do our best. And to earn as much as possible, we need to be as good as possible.
10. Be willing to pay the price. Success isn't free. We have to work at it. It requires energy and sacrifice. We don't always feel like doing what needs to be done, so we need self-discipline (self-leadership). Unless we cultivate self-discipline, there is little likelihood that we will prosper.
11. Treat work as an opportunity, not as a tedious necessity. Your job is great. It provides an opportunity for you to develop your skills. Appreciate the opportunity you have and get excited by it. Enthusiasm is catching and attracts more opportunities. Become passionate about your job, for passion provides the drive and commitment you need to succeed. Consider this, it is not your job that makes you excited, but you that makes your job exciting.
12. Love people. Your prosperity depends on how well you get along with others. People, more than anything else, represent the key to happiness and fulfillment, for they provide us with knowledge, inspiration, laughter, friendship, and opportunity.
13. Welcome challenges. We need challenges to learn how to solve problems and grow resilient. It is the problem solvers who will become the most prosperous. So, not only embrace challenges, but seek them out.
14. Remain flexible and open. When things are not going according to plan, it may be because life has a better plan for you, so always remain alert to new opportunities and remain flexible enough to adjust to the winds of change. Be prepared for the unexpected.
15. Persist; don't give up. We will always succeed if we refuse to give up. Commit to success.
16. Be willing to fail. As much as you want success, be willing to fail because it will be necessary to take risks if we wish to succeed. Anyway, there isn't any such thing as failure, there are only learning experiences.
17. Stay focused on success. After achieving some success, we may be tempted to slacken up, thereby returning to mediocrity. So, don't let your guard down; stay focused.
18. Practice gratitude. You may not yet be where you wish to be, but be grateful for where you are, for you are certainly better off than many. Gratitude is important because the more we are grateful for what we have, the more we will have to be grateful for. When we are grateful for what we have, we use it and advance, but when we are ungrateful, we fail to take advantage of what we have.
19. Learn from the successes of others; read biographies and ask questions. Study more about money, wealth, and prosperity. To help you in this regard, I've included two books in the Recommended Reading section.
I'll end with the reminder that in our pursuit of prosperity, we need to understand that money doesn't represent true wealth, or as Albert Einstein (1879~1955) said, "Many of the things you can count (such as money and possessions), don't count. Many of the things you can't count (such as health and friendship), really count."
50 PROSPERITY CLASSICS: Attract It, Create It, Manage It, Share It by Tom Butler-Bowdon, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2008
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill 260 page classic free