WHAT I BELIEVE IN REGARDING MONEY & CLASS
1) Wealth accumulation is harmful to all people, including rich people.
We are living in the greatest time of wealth inequality in human history and it is harming everyone. It does not serve rich people to have more than we need, or to indulge in the endless drive for more resources. When we accumulate wealth for no good reason other than fear, we experience increased fear, suspicion of others, isolation and the pain of living a life outside of integrity. Rich people, while materially more comfortable than the rest of the world, are spiritually and emotionally distraught under capitalism 1 . It’s time for us to end this practice of accumulating more wealth than we need and move our money! Figuring out what you truly need to live a fulfilling and humble life is an empowering and necessary step.2
2) Capitalism is inherently oppressive; money is not. Money is simply a tool.
Money has existed since roughly 1000 BCE, far before capitalism was created, as a symbol to represent physical resources that were too cumbersome to physically transport. Capitalism requires that poverty exist in order to function, and offers a small few the power to control the world’s resources; we desperately need to create a more just economic system. While horrible things have been done in the name of money, we get to approach money in a scientific, curious way, without making conclusions about our self-worth or sinking in shame. Money itself is value-neutral. There is no reason to fear, avoid, or worship money. We can put money to use in exciting and generous ways that help move us towards a values-aligned life.
3) There's probably no amount of money that will make you feel completely safe forever.
While there is basic math to be done about financial planning, the amount of money that would have us feel safe is often a moving target. You might have experienced in your life that you thought $100K would help you feel more relaxed about your financial future, and once you got that amount of wealth, that target goal skipped up to a million. Many people, when they inherit wealth, experience increased financial anxiety and feelings of scarcity- isn’t that interesting? A study of inheritors of wealth $10M+ “do not consider themselves financially secure; for that, they say, they would require on average one-quarter more wealth than they currently possess.” We cannot trust our feelings about money- instead, we need to map out what a values-aligned lifestyle looks like and how much it will cost.
4) Relationships are more reliable than money.
We cannot just rely on money or material goods to be safe; the stock market can (and will) crash at any moment, our expensive homes can burn down in fires from climate change, and so on. Consider that your long-term “investment” plan include investing in real human relationships, not just amassing more wealth. If all of your relationships are based on money, you are in a precarious situation: who will you call for help when the stock market crashes? Who will help you when you are sick and want real human connection? How can you ever trust other people if all of your relationships are transactional? Your investment plan should also include you learning how to show up for and support other people and communities with your time, energy, and heart, offering more than just money to others. When we invest in the well-being of others, we invest in real relationships, and ultimately in our own safety, too. We have a lot to learn from working class communities in this domain.
5) We cannot do this alone.
Trying to transform your relationship with money, people, and the planet all by yourself, alone at your computer, is counterproductive. You’ve probably already tried to figure things out by yourself or make changes but the change didn’t stick. Shame can only survive on secrecy and isolation; when we have a non-judgmental space to explore all of our questions, confusions and emotions regarding money, we are more able to think clearly about money. Many of us use money to replace having to rely on other human beings- so as we move our money, we need to learn how to deepen our relationships. We have so much to gain by doing this work with each other.
6) The goal is not to just feel better- it’s to achieve collective well-being.
We are living in a time of unprecedented wealth inequality and climate destruction and people are dying because of it. Healing our relationship with money will make us feel better- and the ultimate goal is collective liberation, not simply an individual sense of emotional relief. As Martin Luther King, Jr said, no one is free until we are all free.
7) You are not a better or worse person because of your level of access to wealth.
The amount of access we have to money says nothing about our quality of character, inherent value or intelligence level. That some of us were born into immense wealth says nothing about who we truly are; the same goes for people born into poverty. Taking on this perspective can help us to move money more easily and clearly and leave our egos aside. We will make better choices about our money when we are not consumed by feeling good or bad about ourselves for having access to wealth.
8) Taking charge of our money is an essential step for those of us with access to wealth of any amount.
This process requires that we stop treating money like an enigma or an enemy. In order to move money, we need to first get familiar with how money works and what we have access to. We also need to learn where our money came from, how it is currently invested, examine our spending habits, and so on, in order to be effective Money Movers. You will find that money is much less confusing once you’ve gotten to release some of the shame, emotions and unhelpful money messages you’ve inherited alongside your money.
9) There is no perfect solution; there is an abundance of wonderfully imperfect ones!
Many of us wait until we are 100% sure we are taking the right step before we do it- which means we hardly ever act. There is no perfect way to undo capitalism or to support racial justice. We must embrace failure, imperfection, and risk in this process of moving money. And there are so many brilliant places we can support to create solutions for social inequity that feel deeply fulfilling to support.
10) We have so much to gain from aligning money with our values.
As rich people, we are trained to exploit others, and to assume everyone will exploit us. Part of money coaching is about healing from those destructive dynamics and discovering what interdependent relationships can be with other people and with the earth. We get to go to sleep at night knowing we are living within our values and dignity, and lose that nagging sense that we are avoiding something important or not making choices based on integrity. We get to step into leadership and support others in this process, too. We get to discover how resilient, courageous, generous and creative we truly are!
1Research has shown that both the lowest-low and the highest-high incomes are more strongly associated with rates of suicide than other income levels” , so people who are ostracized by money in both directions feel the impact of capitalism (but obviously in very different ways).  https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=13737&cn=9
2As Ed Whitfield says, why would you want to be the only overly-fed person in a room full of starving people? I would add: what does that do to your relationships, your sense of self, your happiness?