The flight-or-fight response is a physiological reaction that happens when we are faced with a potentially harmful event. Biologists tell us that the decision is made in an instant. When I was probably 15, a 1,600-pound cow charged at me.
I was trying to give her calf a shot. I don’t blame her. The second I saw her head go down, I knew to fly. After about a second, she ended up pinning me against the fence. I remember feeling the fence bowing behind me. If you ever get mad at me and punch me, please punch my right knee. I can’t feel anything through the scar tissue.
When I was in college, I had another fight-or-flight encounter: I took out student loans without much thought. I somehow thought that if I didn’t think about it, the problem wouldn’t be there. I think a lot of people take this approach with money. We think that if we ignore our debt (flight), then it won’t be an issue.
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However, as natural as this response may be, sooner or later everyone learns that we need to fight for our money.
What I’ve found is that if money doesn’t interest you – or if you want to be rich enough to not really have to worry about it – then you have to think about it a lot. You need to look it in the metaphorical eyes and fight it until you win.
I suppose winning in this arena would mean financial independence. Or a million dollars. Or $10 million. You decide what winning financially means to you.
Those who don’t like discussing money are the ones who need to be discussing it the most. These are people who want money but don’t want to think about it. That’s silly. If you’ve ever heard of the law of attraction, read up on it. If you want something, you have to focus on it.
Then there are those of us who avoid thinking about money because we don’t really respect it. We don’t appreciate the full value of it. We can get by on only a little, so why bother thinking about it, right? After all, people who think about money include such figures as Donald Trump and Scrooge McDuck, right? You may not want to emulate them, and that’s fine.
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But if you think money doesn't matter much, you obviously need to think about it a little more.
I’m frugal. I don’t want much stuff. But money is cool because having enough of it allows me to distribute it as I please. You can do this, too. If you’re passionate about a cause – bingo.
Give money. Did someone return an item you lost? Bingo. Give them money. Spread the love. Show your appreciation. What’s your favorite charity? Do you want to end abortion? Do you want to find a cure for cancer?
Money helps to do all of that.
If you don’t want money, awesome. But we should all think about it on a regular basis – if not for us, then for the good of others.
If you still want to take flight whenever someone mentions personal finance, that’s okay. Actually, knowing too much can be harmful. People who spend days and days reading about money ’til their eyes bleed can end up doing foolish things. They can get into day trading. They can try to count cards in Vegas. Or they may embark on get-rich-quick schemes because they think they know something that others don’t.
In reality, personal finance isn’t that complicated. In fact, it’s so uncomplicated that many things can be automatic. Set your expenses to be paid automatically. Make your investments automatic. Automate everything. And enjoy what money can do for yourself and others.
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