iym articles
December 11, 2004

Fears, Wants,
and Soundbites From Heaven

Keeping what you have and creating what you deserve is not only about money. It is about the absence of fear, which is an even greater blessing than the absence of want; and fear tends to disappear when you tell the truth. It is about liking who you are and sleeping well at night. It is about recognizing that you and your money are one; when you know this, then the actions you take with your life will be one and the same, and the ways in which you behave with your money will reflect the truth about who you are.

It all starts with deciding to lie or tell the truth. It's up to you.

      − Suze Orman,   The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life   [REVIEW]

I happened to pick up Suze Orman's Laws of Money, Lessons of Life book again the other day, just looking for something to read for a few minutes. Just so happens that the page I flipped open contained the passage above.

I read through that entire page a few times, and maybe a little of the next few. But I kept coming back to the above paragraphs. I don't remember them from my first two readings if Laws of Money, but you know what? I really like them. Suze has hidden something perceptive in there, something ridiculously true, and it strikes deep into the core of many families' situations today.

When it comes our money and how we handle it, I suspect most of us simply lie to ourselves. A lot. And so we end up working to satisfy our wants rather than eliminate our fears.

It's an easy thing to do, of course. Encouragement to spend spend spend rains down from all sides:   television, radio, movies, magazines, friends, coworkers, kids, snail mail, email. Encouragement to save save save, on the other hand, gets left out in the lobby somewhere, way out, where the chirping of crickets abounds the silence and empty candy wrappers blow past its feet. Saving is that last kid standing outside the dollar theatre at 11pm, his coat bunched around him to hold off the cold and darkness:   The movie is over, his two friends have gone, and the pickup ride from Mom — or anyone else beneficial, anyway — is becoming more and more in doubt.

As for me, I wish I could say I did things right from Day One. But . . . no. I sped past that theatre many times without so much as noticing that kid. Oh, he was waving his arms at me, all right. And yelling. But I was focused on other things.

Plus the radio was going pretty loud.

The Absence of Fear
In the quote above, the part about "lying or telling the truth" is dead-on. But honestly, right here is where Suze latches on to my psyche:   The absence of fear is a greater blessing than the absence of want.

Yipes. I might print that phrase and Scotch-tape it to my computer monitor, actually. I wouldn't have believed so much as a syllable of that fifteen years ago. But I believe it now. It might just become one of my Financial Gospels.

The past two years have seen me knock down my Daily Allowance of Fear (financial fear, that is) to levels previously undreamt of by yours truly — and I now know how wonderful some measure of "absence of fear" feels. I no longer worry about having the money to pay my monthly bills; heck, I pay them as soon as they arrive, and forget about them until next month.

I no longer worry about credit card balances steadily increasing despite more-than-minimum payments. As of Monday, December 13, 2004, my last remaining credit-card balance vanished.

I no longer worry about how I will pay for items such as my six-month auto insurance premium due next month. I used to pay it (plus a nice little $3.50 service charge) on a monthly basis. That seemed ridiculous; over the course of a few months I managed to scrimp and set aside enough to make the next six-month payment all at once. Since then I've tucked one-sixth of the six-month premium away each month, so when the biannual bill arrives, the money is ready to go.

By a wide variety of hard work, planning, determination, marital cooperation, and otherwise just pulling my head out of my rear, we have dispatched entirely the fear of such things. It took not weeks, not months, but years. Yet life is better this way.

Yes, I'd really like to get my hands on a 2004 Accord or 2005 Altima, among a multitude of other shiny, sure-are-sweet-to-own things. A DVD recorder with hard drive sounds pretty righteous, too. And a new Nikon digital camera. And I cannot get over how great college football looks on an HDTV. Judge me however you like, but know that I most certainly do not have an absence of want.

Newsflash:   It is not likely that I will ever have that.

But I have tasted the absence of fear. It is hearty, and goes down smooth. It has a pleasant, cinnamony aroma, coupled with a fresh minty aftertaste. It is crystal-clear, yet makes the skies just a bit more blue. It makes the smell of outdoor air right after a summer rain a bit more wonderful. It makes the starshine of twinkling Christmas lights this time of year absolutely joyous. It makes my daughter's laughter (she loves to sing "Jingle Bells" in our living room, you know, dancing and spinning until she falls down) just a bit more like a soundbite from Heaven.

In short, it suits me just fine.

So you were right, Suze. The absence of fear is a greater blessing than the absence of want. Plus it is also more achievable. So . . . I believe I'll have another.

And to you, Dear Reader:   Care to join me?

Michael | December 11, 2004

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