Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's not all about the money

The problem with people who have lots of money is they don't understand what it's like to not have lots of money.
Or to even not have enough money.
A recent trip to Mexico showed how great the contrast between haves and have nots are. In one area of the town we spent five days in, there was a vast landscape of shacks, barely running cars, dust and garbage.
Numerous homes were atop an old landfill site and many of the homes were made out of whatever material could be found.
And these were not druggies or alcoholic bums, but hard-working people who were trying to survive on a whopping $40US a week.
A few kilometres away, sat a strip of posh resorts. Pools, hottubs and condos with the same square footage or more as my entire house stretched for kilometres. BMWs, Mercedes and Cadillacs graced the parking lot, while the 'slums' were full of dented and rusted out cars that were as peace meal as the houses.
Having too much money has never been a problem I have had to face, but it is one I wouldn't mind trying on for size.
For a few years after we wed, my wife and I were so broke we could barely afford air, but we saved and worked hard to arrive at the humble abode we now call home.
During those broke years, I was covering an event as a photographer for the newspaper I worked for that featured a wealth-management specialist.
That is someone who tells people how to best take care of their money. Considering I did not have any money at the time, I did not pay too much attention to what he was saying.
That is until he said, “And with the extra money you have left over from each pay cheque, you can invest it in...”
Extra money?
What the hell is that?
What is this mythical thing called extra money of which he speaks?
At the time, we were 'foolishly' spending all our money on silly stuff like rent and food and we certainly did not have any 'extra money' lying around we could invest in something.
But to people in the audience with an abundance of money, it all made perfect sense.
I personally know a few people who are doing quite well financially. Some of whom made a lot of money in legal, yet somewhat unscrupulous manners, but that is for another time.
The common thread they all shared was they had no concept of what not being able to afford something was like.
This one guy and I were talking and I mentioned my truck needed some work.
His response, “Well just take it in to get fixed. Problem solved.”
He could not wrap his money-laden brain around the thought that, at the moment, I could not afford to have the work done.
He was baffled at the notion.
The conversation drifted in another direction and it wasn't long before he was telling me about his new boat, vacation plans and all the skiing they did last winter.
Years of working in newspaper has provided me with a career that I have come to regard as a job I have done for a very long time.
Coupled with a marginally acceptable wage and it was a way to pay the bills – most of them anyway.
The rich people I have met over the years – and I have met a few very rich people – cared about one thing and one thing only: money.
It was their god, it was their desire, it was their sole purpose for living.
They were not very nice people, at least not to us little people and I found some of the poorest people I have met were the most inviting, welcoming and generous with what little they had.
For someone who lusts, loves and covets money, they will never have enough. But for someone who loves people, life and giving you will always have enough.

Copyright 2015, Darren Handschuh

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