I like words. I make my living using words. In speeches. In conferences. In teaching others. When I was a young boy helping my dad with chores, I talked, a lot. Dad would always say, "you’d get more work done if you talked less”. We both laugh at that now, because I travel the world making money by talking… a lot. During my latest travels I met a man that flies stunt planes by the brand name Citabria. I asked about that unusual name and he explained it is "airbatic" spelled backwards. Airbatic is a play on the word "aerobatics," or stunt-flying. There are many words like that and many brands that play with those words. For example, Evian bottled water. Did you know the word Evian is "naive" spelled backwards? Ever wonder why people pay premium prices for bottled water? Well, now you have your answer.
I’ve always been fascinated with words. From storytelling, to teaching, to even selling real estate. However, the word I've been focused on as of late is: money. I find the word money so interesting. Although it’s a singular word it is also a way of life, a dream for many. That got me thinking, what does the word money really mean?
The word money is derived from the Latin word, "moneta." Moneta was the title given to the goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter in Greek and Roman mythology. The Romans minted their coins in the temple of Juno due to associating moneta, or money, with things they valued or considered to be sacred. It was a word that was associated with their gods, and for many today, money is still associated with their god.
I like money, a lot, and I’m good at making it, but money is not my god. I see money as two things: First, it is a measurement of the value of my work and secondly, it is the value of the things and people I love. My parent's generation believed money had value in itself, which they weren’t wrong. Money used to be backed by the gold standard. In fact, some of the cash bills my dad has in his collections have the words ‘Silver Certificate’ printed on them, which could be exchanged for actual silver. However, nowadays money only has the value that society agrees to give it. The paper itself is worth little to nothing. Coins have some value, though some coins cost more to mint than their face value. That said, I don't like money for its intrinsic value, but rather for the value it represents: my hard work, the services and goods I need, and the things I want for the people I love.
The history of money and mankind shows that early mankind used a system of trade or barter. Even some present-day, less-developed cultures, still use the trade-barter system. Trading what they do have for the things they don't have. The trade and barter system reveals what we truly value because we have to part with something we possess and value to obtain what we want or feel we need. The use of money is certainly more convenient, more efficient, and certainly quicker. However, it would be really inconvenient, and rather awkward, for me to bring a pickup truck full of goats and chickens to pay for my airline tickets every week.
Because the cash in our wallet or coins in our cupholder don't really have much value to us, it is easier to part with. And credit cards? Totally painless. We don't really feel as if we lost anything when we use plastic. That said, imagine the child that wants a new bicycle but must trade away his puppy to pay for it. His purchase would be made with far more careful consideration than simply pulling a plastic card out of his wallet. That is how money should be thought of. Like hard work and well earned. What about trading a basket of fresh vegetables that someone had to plant, hoe, water, fertilize, pick, wash, and pack over the summer months. Suddenly, what they are willing to trade it for takes on an entirely new value.
I try to look at my expenditures in light of the hours of preparation, travel, inconvenience, fatigue, and absence away from my family that it took me to earn the money to spend. I love my family very much and money gives me a way to show that love. For example, I recently took them on a vacation. As I watched them laugh, smile, enjoy good meals, comfortable lodging, and making memories, I saw my money working for me.
I had worked hard to earn that money and now that money was working hard for me by letting me exchange it for ways to show my family that I love them. I didn't take my family to a bank to show them my money accounts. That would have been weird, for everyone. Yet that same money, when exchanged for hotels, restaurants, gifts, and memories was all the sudden transformed into love for my family and became valuable to everyone. As I sat back and watched my family enjoy themselves, I thought to myself, this is why I love money. This is the intrinsic value money brings me.