If I had a dollar for every time I heard the saying “Money is the root of all evil” I would have a lot of dollars. For many, money has come to be something highly coveted as the solution to all our problems. But for others, it comes with the idea that it also causes a lot of problem on its own. 

No wonder many of us have a love/hate relationship with money.

We caught up in the contradictory idea that we want and need more and more money but we don’t want to be seen as evil, or somehow lacking in spirituality for desiring a good life. I see this with many of my clients who are on a spiritual or artistic path who often find living in the material world difficult. They may love the freedom money can buy but have no desire to participate in the material world.

I’m not a religious person but I think the correct quote is actually along the lines that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” (Timothy 6:10) You see the difference there, don’t you? It’s not money itself that causes problems but the love of money: the constant chase for money; prioritising the pursuit of money over all else; or using the money for nefarious purposes.

Assuming you aren’t using the money as a means of controlling another, making it through illegal activity, or jeopardising your health and relationships in the pursuit of more, then there is nothing inherently wrong with having money.

Having money gives you freedom and choice. It enables you to do good in the world. Unless you are a religious type that has taken a vow of poverty, it’s pretty challenging to change the world when you are flat broke and wondering about your next meal.

When you really think deeply about money, you realise it’s actually just something we made up and gave value to. It has no more power than we give it. We could have assigned the same value to carrots … but we assigned the title (and energy) to bits of metal and little pieces of paper. If you think of it like that you realise money is only energy.

Money has no intrinsic or stand-alone value. We can’t eat it or grow it. Having a pocket full of it doesn’t make you safe or immune from illness. You won’t get a lot of joy from hugging it or talking to it. The only value is that we assign to it.

Sure, we need money to participate in society. In the words of Louisa May Alcott “Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.” And I know I would certainly struggle in a world without potatoes!

Continuing to see money as the problem is a deeply held negative belief which tends to hold people back from achieving the freedom they desire. Since it’s impossible to attract that which we are repelled by, those that hold this deep-seated belief will always struggle financially. It has nothing to do with their intelligence, talent or ambition, but rather, mindset.

I had a client who took pride at school in being the one that always looked a bit mismatched with paint still on her hands. She thought it sent out the message that she was far too artistic and cool to be bothered with such things as fashion and looks. Into adulthood, she drove a car with a window that kept sliding down of its own accord… but she was too spiritual to care about luxury. She could afford a decent car, but she didn’t want to be seen to materialistic or inauthentic.

After looking back over money in her childhood, it was clear that she was rebelling against what she saw as her “capo” parents. She felt they cared too much about money and image and what the neighbours would think and was determined that wouldn’t be her.

After considering this mindset for some time she has started to find that there is nothing inherently wrong with having a car that works… that it’s actually kind of handy. Whilst you certainly couldn’t accuse her of being driven by money now, she is certainly much more comfortable embracing the freedom it offers her.

In a healthy twist, this same client has started planning for early retirement so she can concentrate on her art. Ironically, she all but abandoned her art in her working to make money!

Whilst spending endless hours in the relentless pursuit of more and more will inevitably create problems. So too will resenting the reality that we need money to get by. Those who succeed will be those who embrace life in all its dimensions.