The power of money

By | February 22, 2016

Captain Money would be more widely accepted as the greatest superhero of all time if he had a cape instead of wings.

Money means freedom and power in a million different ways. Sure, there’s the obvious way of being able to structure your own days and not work, but there’s so much more to it. Having some money in your bank account gives you a cushion in your life no matter what dice the universe rolls. Money has such amazing superpowers and I will NEVER understand the lure of spending it all on junk and stuff and crap before sewing up your own parachute, umbrella, safety net. Having some cash in your bank account lets you react the way you want to react. It lets you put your own self interests first.

Money is freedom from bad romantic entanglements

I don’t watch much television, but I do enjoy Law & Order: SVU, The X-Files (there’s a season 10!) and Judge Judy. Judge shows litter the daytime TV landscape, but Judge Judy is by far the best in my opinion. Watching her yell at people makes my day. I also feel like I learn so much about human beings and relationships from her show.

I’m always shocked by the paltry sums of money that people go to court over, prolonging toxic contact with someone who is better left behind and forgotten. I’m not saying that you should let people take advantage of you, but sometimes it’s better to move forward without the hassle, stress and time of suing for some cash you’re owed and chalking the loss up to a lesson learned.

I hope that the plaintiffs and defendants on Judge Judy aren’t the most typical slice of Americana, but I find that vast majority of failed romantic relationships showcased there terrifying. Money gives you the freedom to leave an unhealthy relationship behind quickly. If you’re earning your own cash and you’re not up to your hair follicles in debt and you’re not living paycheck to paycheck and you’re not dependant on somebody else, you can summon the necessary resources to exit and move on with your life. hits you once? She verbally abuses you? He treats you like a maid? She cheats on you? I promise you that you’ll find it a lot easier to leave if you have some cash in your bank account and a way to sustain yourself. Money gives you the freedom to let go of the wrong person. Money grants you independence.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Even Judge Judy herself knows this. She recounted this conversation with her first husband in her memoir.

I said to Ron, who was in private practice and could set his own hours, “I have to be in court tomorrow afternoon. You need to go to the swim meet.” He had a look of incredulity. “That’s not our deal. If you want to work, that’s fine, but your job is a hobby.

….We were divorced within a year, and I vowed to never again let another person define me.”

Money is freedom from a negative living situation.

I see so many unhappy living arrangements on Judge Judy that could easily be solved with a balance in a bank account. The crazy and violent roommate is someone you just don’t get along with. Whoops, the house you rented on Craigslist is actually a crack den. There is no running water in the place. The idyllic neighborhood during the day turns into a loud club at night.

My last year of college, my roommate decided to stop paying rent. I could have taken her to court over the landlord keeping my security deposit because of her failure. I would have won this very clear case, but the sum was a small price to pay to see her true character and end the friendship. Perhaps on principle, I should have sued her, but the idea of squeezing blood from a stone placated my moral outrage.

Money is a cushion from a hostile work environment

Get me those TPS reports!

And money doesn’t just buffer you from unfortunate personal entanglements. Money gives you the wings to flee a negative work environment. It lets you tell your boss that he can’t swear at you. And urges you to tell a supervisor that he can’t make a pass at you. Money demands that you tell your employer that he can’t ask you to do something illegal or unethical. In an uncertain world with a fickle safety net, money whispers in your ear that you’ll be okay even without the system’s official support.

If you have your own money to back up your reactions, you’ll find it a lot easier to leave and find a new job, complain to human resources without obsessing over the repercussions, blow the whistle to the relevant government agency with less fear of retribution. No depreciating asset will give you the flexibility that a healthy bank account balance can. I’m not saying everything will be easy, but I can guarantee that everything will be harder with no money in the bank.

Money buys you more justice

The weird S looking thing on the right is the symbol for “Sections.”

Speaking of that fickle safety net and uncertain world, money protects you from the system when you do make a small mistake. Caught smoking a joint in public? Arrested for protesting for a cause you believe in? Even for misdemeanors, you better have bail money or else you’ll sit in a cell until it’s all sorted.

Overworked public defenders with crushing caseloads may not give you the same defense that a gaggle of attorneys working solely for you can give. Money talks. It’s a sad reality that the justice system will often peek under her blindfold or at least put her pinky on the scale if you wave enough cash in her face.

Money is power

Money gives you the freedom to make your life what you want it to be and the most valuable thing money can buy is freedom from having to worry about money. I know I repeat that sentiment a lot, but it’s a good sentiment and I think it perfectly encapsulate my philosophy on how to think about money.

Money makes the world go round. It lets you define your own worth, choose your own path in life. Money gives you flexibility. Don’t waste your money on stuff. Make no mistake, all the stuff that you will buy in the store will eventually be relegated to the dumpster. The rate of stuff turning to junk may vary based on the purchase, but eventually everything will be tossed. Everything.

Your freedom is more important, no?

15 thoughts on “The power of money

  1. InsiderAccountant

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that about Judge Judy – the sums of money they fight over are just ridiculous!

    It’s perhaps even more sad that by going on TV over a $300 debt, these people are essentially telling you that they have no money at all, or are perhaps a long way in the red. Why else would anyone fight for such a small amount of money?!

    It’s almost like the time I went to pay for lunch when I was 17 and my debit card rejected the $5 payment. People around me didn’t know exactly how much money was in my bank account, but they sure as hell knew that it was less than $5!

  2. Allen

    I work in tv (two court shows were taped inside my tv station) and can assure you that the people you see on tv court shows are getting paid. The court shows look through the court records and find cases that already been settled and re-try them for tv. Both the plaintiffs and defendants get paid. It’s just a way to get extra money and be on tv. Not to mention the court shows have interesting cases for your viewing pleasure.

  3. KangSik, Seo

    It is time to save money. I am worried about fluctuating economy. Some state such as Puerto rico declared default situation.

  4. Kapil

    Nice post TG. Totally agree. I think buying stuff makes people feel good…like eating cake or having a drink. People get addicted to the pleasure of shopping and end up with a lot of ‘stuff’ and very little money in the bank. There is also the keep up with the Jones’s effect keeping people broke.

  5. Harmony @ CreatingMyKaleidoscope

    As someone with a considerable amount of debt, I cannot agree more. We would be living a very different life right now if we didn’t have credit card balances and student loans. At least we’ve realized the choices we have on how to save, as opposed to spend, our money. Now, we just have to keep working on it, so we can achieve freedom from debt.
    PS – I like watching Judge Judy too – she doesn’t put up with anything.

  6. Ally

    I second your comments about money giving you wings to flee a negative work environment. Knowing that I have a money buffer allows me to not put up with a lot of crap. I have seen people denigrated and bullied at work places over the years and wondered and asked why they would allow themselves to be treated so poorly. They believed they needed that job, but I could see that their days were numbered almost because they were easy pickings. Having money lets you not suffer bullies.

  7. Stuart

    “I also feel like I learn so much about human beings and relationships from her show.”

    As one commenter already mentioned, court TV shows are not as they seem. People have strong incentives to act as dramatically or exuberantly as possible (higher ratings) rather than be reasonable and conciliatory (boring TV). They have no skin in the game.

    Anecdote to illustrate this – a friend of mine got into an accidental fender bender with his buddy, and they were able to get on a court TV show and pretended to be very angry with each other. It was all an act but it was a win-win. They got the car repair work paid for by the show and the show got an entertaining segment. But this was not an accurate depiction of what was really going on with these people.

  8. Ellen

    How right you are. In fact, having money as a safety net even can influence your thinking even in situations where you don’t end up using the safety net. In a work setting, it can keep your thinking clear and your backbone strong by reducing the element of coercion.

  9. The Big Monkey

    Hi There,

    Great piece. Thanks for taking to time to share your adventure.

    I like to think of money like this. A large stash / FU fund won’t automatically make you happy, but it can easily help to take away the things that make you unhappy.

    We love or FU fund, because of all of the points you made above.

  10. Birju

    You’ve articulated so well what makes money so important. The power it has lies not in the worthless junk it can fill your home with the power it gives you to navigate your life on your terms and not those of your employer, spouse or anyone/anything else

  11. walter

    I too enjoy an episode of Judge Judy now and then. based on some of the earlier comments, so much for reality tv! i guess i am glad it is about as real as the WWF used to be. i’d really be worried for humanity otherwise. perhaps a true reality tv show “Judge Thriftygal” could save the world from itself.

  12. Classical_Liberal

    Absolutely awesome! It’s like you’re Gordon Gecko, with morals! I’m glad I found you and look forward to going back and reading the rest of your blog.

    I actually had the exact situation with a roommate (friend) not so long ago and let the landlord keep my deposit for payment of his rent… Haven’t had to talk to him since, but the idea of starring on a judge judy episode does have its appeal… maybe I should reconsider?

  13. smw

    Great read, and I quit my job this month. I dont have lots of cash but husband and I have cut our expenditure. This gives us/me freedom. So yes to not owning lots of stuff.


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