Next to politics and religion, money and wealth are taboo topics in our culture. As a matter of fact, I would go so far to say that we approach the topic of wealth and money, the way we deal with sex. Keep it out of the public conversation and behind closed doors where it belongs.
We know what happens when you don’t educate our young people about sex. Just look examine the efficacy of abstinence-only education to combat teen pregnancy. By shutting down the conversation about sex, sex becomes a tool of manipulation, mystery, and power. It is silenced in conversation but is constantly present in our popular culture — like a forbidden fruit beckoning us to taste, but just out of reach, wrapped up in a brown paper bag on the top shelf magazine rack.
Wealth is treated the exact same way. We don’t want to talk about it because we’ve made it dirty. We’ve made it forbidden, yet titillating at the same time. We abuse money the way we abuse sex. We don’t respect it, value it, or learn about it. We distance ourselves from conversations about money. And this all came to a head when we watched our “unsinkable” economy take a nose dive in 2007.
Like a teen having unprotected sex, we found ourselves knocked up with no where to go and no one to blame but ourselves. How could this happen to us? How did we end up here? Why me?
The Truth About Wealth
Wealth has nothing to do with having lots of money. Wealth has everything to do with empowering yourself by learning how to use the money and resources you already have.
When the economy tanked in 2007, many of us found ourselves overextended in every way imaginable. We trapped ourselves in credit card debt we couldn’t afford, had student loans we convinced ourselves were an investment, and homes we hadn’t earned. We convinced ourselves that lenders were our friends and that you wouldn’t be given credit unless you deserved it. We held on to the myth that real estate was a sure investment, our banks were untouchable, and that our economy would never fail.
As a nation, we got comfortable, lazy, and greedy. Yes, I said it, greedy. If we wanted something, we had to have it now. Just charge it. Pay for it later. We bought stuff we didn’t need with money we didn’t have, and didn’t bat an eyelash. And then the crash. Record numbers of bankruptcy, foreclosures, short sales, and unemployment. Fingers pointing in every direction…except at ourselves.
Why weren’t we reading our mortgage paperwork? Why didn’t we learn how credit cards work? Why didn’t we ask ourselves if we had earned that new car, house, vacation, purse, shoes, trip to the spa, or night out? Why did we convince ourselves we could afford to spend but not to save?
We were not operating like wealthy individuals. People don’t become wealthy because they have a lot of money. They’re wealthy because they know how to use money as a tool to achieve their goals. I’d go so far as to argue that rich is not the same as wealthy.
Rich is having a lot of money. Wealth is knowing how to hang on to what you have. Big difference.
I want to know more about what you think about wealth. Is it good? Is it bad? Do you think I missed the mark? Help us learn more about how you, as a New Latina, feel about wealth by taking our survey and commenting below!