“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” English proverb
The above is one of my least favorite idioms. As a kid when someone would say this to me I would think, “money is made of paper and paper comes from trees so actually money DOES grow on trees.” Nobody thought my logic was very funny.
As an adult I understand the meaning behind the proverb and I still don’t like it. Money IS just paper, or these days usually plastic. Money’s only use is the value we place on it. Its power lies in how it is spent.
In fact, more than ever we exercise our power, our political choices and our values in how we decide to spend our money. We are living in the consumer age.
What is your relationship with money? Do you read the menu from right to left – allowing price to dictate your tastes? Do you feel resentful when paying your bills or are you filled with gratitude about the services and goods you received in exchange? How much money do you need to be satisfied? Do you dream of fancy cars and big houses or is it enough that you can treat friends to dinner or a concert without feeling affected financially?
We live in an age where getting a deal is badge of honor and growing your money is a source of pride. But what if every purchase came with a different criterion than cost? What if we valued paying more knowing that the people who made our goods were earning more? Low priced goods, from clothing to electronics to food, come with costs beyond money. Low wages, poor working conditions, GMOs that produce environmental damage, are all things that we endure to get the lowest price we have come to value.
What if when you bought a sweater you didn’t just check the price and the washing instructions? What if you checked to see where it was made and by whom? What if before buying a new computer you researched the company’s ethical practices in relation to it’s workers and the environment, rather than just looking at consumer reports about the functionality of the product?
This brings me to one of my favorite proverbs… “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone is always paying. Our affluent and comfortable lifestyle has been built on the labor and exploitation of others.
So spend compassionately! Tip well! Pick up the check! Buy less crap and spend more on ethical well-made products! Invest in experiences! Follow your money beyond your purchase and see where it’s really going.
See you next month,