By Dustin Elliott
March 28, 2022
Money, in and of itself, is simply a multiplier of means to an end. It takes whatever is already inside of us…and multiplies it. For example, if you like cars without money and suddenly you have money, chances are, you’ll buy cars.
This observation is why it is exceedingly important that children, teenagers and young adults develop healthy attributes and a deep sense of integrity before they have wealth.
Often, the pursuit of wealth teaches us many life lessons that prepare us for managing it. In some cases, we can be taught that money is a means of acquiring the what in life we desire. In others, we can be taught that money is a means of sharing the who we have become.
In my experience, you don’t get very many of the whats until you become the who you are meant to be.
The 7 Deadly Sins of Finance:
Being dissatisfied with our lives, talents and gifts while focusing on the circumstances of another’s. In today’s tainted lens of social media, this one is not difficult to grasp. It’s rooted in jealousy. It creates unfair rivalry and unnecessary competition. It can manifest itself in gossip, sarcasm, teasing, contempt and lead to schemes meant to destroy others, while rotting us from the inside out.
Rather than be envious, why not befriend someone whose station in life is appealing to you? Chances are, they are making above average financial decisions, and they may have some insight you could benefit from. It is often said, you are the average of the 5 people you are closest to. Assuming this math is true, how do you add up? If you made an adjustment and added a mentor where a detractor currently resides, would your average increase?
A desire for inordinate amounts of possessions or status…or in this case, money. Greed uses others for personal gain, with little regard for the harm our manipulation may cause them. It can manifest itself in many ways, gambling excessively, weaseling, narcissism, selfishness, embezzling, avoiding conflict, being unlawful or unethical, being too possessive or even refusing to set healthy boundaries.
Rather than be greedy for more personal pleasure, fall in love with the journey, the pursuit…and establish a process by which you share the fruits of your labor with others. Setup a foundation or DAF that automatically takes 10% (or more) of what you come into and be radically generous with it. There’s no drug on this planet that can compare to the high we get when we help someone else, especially when we do so with no expectation of something in return. The gift of giving truly is without comparison.
Seeking material or monetary satisfaction to fill the emptiness in our lives…an excessive, driving desire for personal pleasure with more net worth, greater returns or gains on the socioeconomic ladder.
Rather than lusting for more money, set your heart on a desire to learn. Every successful person stands on a hill full of failures - although for them, they’re called lessons. As we try and fail, we learn what not to do, we make adjustments and we file experiences under a super power column called wisdom . As we increase our net worth in wisdom, chances are, we’ll find other rewards as well.
The act of refusing to use our natural gifts and talents for financial growth. It is laziness or unwillingness to pay attention to our needs and those of others, especially others that rely on us. Sloth can manifest itself as neglecting our family and friends, avoiding working through conflict, procrastination, day dreaming, short cuts, passive aggressiveness, leaving our work for others to do, complaining, treating people of lesser means differently.
Discipline is the bridge between this version of ourselves and the one we know we can be. Set just one simple, new financial goal for yourself. It doesn’t have to be hard, it just needs to be enough that you can start to prove to yourself that you are responsible, disciplined and goal-oriented. A simple exercise is to draw a pie chart and fill out 4 slices - the 4 things you can do with money. You can Give/Live/Owe/Grow. That’s it. So fill yours in and see if it reflects who you are… or rather who you want to be. They say a new habit can be formed in 30 days… if you can make it with one, try another.
Seeking happiness, pleasure and security in the obsessive cycle of making and spending money. Like drugs and alcohol, this can become addictive and lead us to believe it is just part of who we are, hiding behind innocent phrases like “retail-therapy” and “I deserve this.” Gluttony can manifest itself in surprising ways, neglecting our health, exaggerating our self-importance, acting superior to others, refusing to seek advice, becoming rigid, intolerant or unrealistic, lacking self-discipline or just a simple lack of balance.
I love the phrase, “Increase your standard of giving, not just your standard of living.” As our station in life increases, one great way to maintain balance is to also increase how much we share. Sure you may drive a nicer car, live in a bigger home or vacation better than you used to, but you can also help more people less fortunate than you. Generosity has a radical way of keeping us from getting ahead of ourselves, and it just might save us from destruction in pursuit of too much, too big, too fast.
Becoming the center of my own universe, as if the world revolves around me and owes me financially for putting up with it. Pride has strange manifestations, including depending too much on ourselves, being ungrateful to and for others, being territorial, acting as if we’re better than someone else, being hypocritical, living in denial of our own issues, minimizing or rationalizing, refusing to take responsibility for our own actions, being unwilling to make amends, lying, refusing to apologize or admit when we are wrong, thinking you have it all figured out.
Rather than succumb to the negative manifestations of pride, celebrate accordingly. Give credit where credit is due. Honor others. Exalt others. Recognize parents, teachers, mentors, pastors and others that have influenced you and helped you build the process by which your current successes were won. The funny thing is, the more we shower those who care about us with appreciation, gratitude and love, the more willing they are to continue to share. It’s a win-win, whereas the alternative can be lonely, even at the top.
An act of rebellion, revenge or retaliation that causes harm to self or others, in this case, resulting in financial loss. Anger blames others for our own shortcomings, bad decisions and honest mistakes. It can be cynical, ruin reputations, gossip, attack verbally or physically and tends to overreact - not respond.
Anger refuses to forgive and chooses to hold onto bitterness and victimhood. It often leads to very expensive life lessons.
Rather than act on anger, take a walk! Typically when we are angry, we are too caught up in the weeds, we are subjective not objective. Angry financial decisions rarely lead to happy outcomes and often destroy the bottom line. When possible, take a page from Zack Morris in Saved By the Bell , call a timeout and get it out of your system. Respond, don’t react.
How do we prepare ourselves to battle all 7 on an ongoing basis? It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
We combine our qualitative attributes, life lessons and the balance of our wisdom account with our quantitative personal financials. We season to taste with our values, life goals and dreams. We develop a master financial plan, a dynamic set of train tracks that aligns who we are with what we hope to achieve, and we execute the plan with unwavering discipline and long-term, big picture focus. We endeavor not to allow outside forces to penetrate our defenses, remaining faithful to what matters most to us, our family and businesses. We work together, trusting one another to speak truth when emotions cause us to waiver.
I recently heard it like this, “Leaders don’t complain about what’s happening around them, they create the change they want to see.”
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