5 Things I Do Not Get About Money

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This afternoon I was at the pharmacy waiting for a prescription to be filled, and to pass the time I picked up Newsweek magazine. I read this story about Donald Trump. It gave me an idea for this post about my dream of personal finance mastery.

So, dedicated to The Donald, I present to you 5 Things I don’t Get About Money.

(By the way, these are all rhetorical and nobody will get points for explaining them to me.  I like them just for what they are: absurd examples of how mixed up money is.)

1. I don’t get why Donald Trump’s outsized sense of entitlement hasn’t come back to bite him. He’s still rich and famous, and some people would apparently like to see him become President. Of The United States.

The Newsweek story reminds us that Mr. Trump has declared corporate bankruptcy four times.  The story quotes Trump as saying, “I do play with the bankruptcy laws–they’re very good for me.”

He’s also asked about a Florida condominium project to which he lent his name. People invested in it because they thought his name on it meant he was involved. Really he didn’t have anything to do with it, he says. It just had his name on it. Anyway, people lost money when the project went belly up. Mr. Trump says it’s probably actually lucky for those people that the project failed, because they would have lost even more money if it had been completed, what with the real estate downturn and all.

2. I don’t get why terrible financial indicators make the dollar stronger and oil cheaper.

In today’s financial report on the radio, I heard that the stock market was pretty shaky this week on the following cheery news:

    • a slowing economic recovery
    • the China trade deficit numbers
    • the Greek debt situation
    • the fact that corporations are hoarding millions in cash reserves instead of adding jobs
    • and I forget what else – all dire.

But the good news was, according to the report, all that bad news meant the dollar closed up and oil closed down.

I ask you: how can the dollar be stronger and gas cheaper when everything else is going to hell in a handbasket? (Don’t forget, that’s a rhetorical question. Don’t explain it to me.)

3. I don’t get how the rising expectation of getting stuff for free can be good for the economy.

Best selling author, Seth Godin is speculating that the expectation of getting stuff for free is now the new default for teenagers, the educated, and the upper middle class. It kind of sounded like Seth himself didn’t exactly get how this was going to work. Personally, I don’t get how people who have money are increasingly expecting to get stuff for free.

(Maybe that’s how they have money?)

I also don’t get how we can build an economy around free. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love everything to be free. I myself (educated) seem to expect free quite a bit. But, um, how are we going to grow the economy on free?

4. I don’t get how I can be so relaxed about money when I have a business idea that has no monetization strategy.

Ever since 8 Women Dreamer, Remy and I came up with our brilliant business idea that has no known monetizing factor yet, I am less concerned about money than I have been in months. My closest friend told me she hasn’t seen me this relaxed and happy since before we took on a big house payment and started scraping change together for food, and that was four years ago.

Joseph Campbell is often misquoted as saying, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” He actually said, “Follow your bliss,” but he made no claims about money going along with it. Somebody else added that part and it just caught on. I don’t actually believe that following my bliss, tra-la, is necessarily going to make me money.

And yet I’m not worrying. I don’t get it.

5. I don’t get how installing solar panels will save me more in the first year than I actually currently spend on my utility bill, especially since the cost of the panels and installation is going to be added to my property tax bill.

Yesterday I talked to a guy selling solar panels on a county program that adds the cost of said panels to one’s property tax. Two tiny payments per year, he says (without telling me the actual dollar amount). I told him what my monthly electric bill is. He said, “Wow, I guarantee you will save $10,000 the first year alone.” And no, my electric bill is NOT $833.33 per month.

Did you ever read Catch-22? Milo Minderbinder bought and sold Egyptian cotton on the black market. He bought it for 3 cents and sold it to himself for 2 cents and made a profit. Sounds kind of like this solar deal.

But anyway I am excited about installing solar and have almost got Virgo Man talked into it – he’s pro-solar too, but being a Virgo (probably a double or triple Virgo) he knows the exact solar panel he wants, and nobody sells that exact solar panel for residential use. So we are holding out until we can get that exact solar panel, I guess.

We eventually will get solar because

    • it’s good for the environment
    • it’s good for local business
    • it will add value to our house (provided they don’t puncture the tile roof that after more than 35 years does not have one single leak)
    • we will rejoice at getting a monthly bill from Pacific Gas and Electric that shows 0 dollars owed.

I’m all for it, but I don’t believe it’s going to save me more than I’m currently spending.

Wait, maybe that salesman has been reading Seth Godin and gets #3.

Maybe he could explain it to me, and that would solve #4.

That just leaves #1 and #2, which I’m happy to accept as conundrums. Three out of five is not bad.

How about you, World of Dreamers? What don’t you get about money?



  • The Powells

    We wish to thank you for sharing your money journey. When our son Jeremy was preparing his post-graduate research and we were trying to figure out how to help him financially, we discussed many of the ideas and thoughts you shared in your blog posts. If we had been aware of your site a year ago, we’d have been rescued from the useless financial decisions measures we were making and made better choices. Thank you.

  • F.P. Giglio

    Good info. A national survey involving more than 12,000 participants, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, found when participants were asked which made them happier, an experiential purchase or a material one, most people chose the experiential purchase. Meaning, when we spend money on experiences, we are happier than when we spend on stuff like cars, houses, furniture etc. Better to spend money on let’s say, a hiking trip than a wide screen TV.

  • Ha! Your idea having no monetizing yet – and being mellow about it – is totally up my alley. You are right, it’s like the idea itself takes the weight off. It may be a false sense of security, but I’m all for a little illusion occasionally.

    Thanks! – H

  • I love your posts – just love them. They help me so much.