The True Use of Money   by Loren Howe

Despite all of the information and discussion regarding money in our society, there is still an important and overlooked aspect. Nearly everyone saves or fails to save without understanding the logic (or lack of it) behind their behavior. If you are handling money based on subconscious motivations then you are likely to fail in achieving your real goals. Take an honest look at your life. What do you truly enjoy and how much of a sacrifice are you willing to make to attain those things? Are you really willing to give up over half of your life in a stressful job to attain status symbols or escape an irrational fear of poverty? What are the precise items you are saving for and how much time and effort are you willing to give for these things?

Our handling of money comes from several influences. Societies which evolved in areas subject to severe droughts or winters tended to develop a stronger hoarding mechanism which carried over from saving food to saving money. The opposite was true for societies surrounded by plenty. Many of these behaviors may no longer be optimal in the modern world. People also handle money based on negative emotions such as fear, greed, and pride. People fear that they will die destitute and alone if they run out of money. Other people's greed pushes them to save and become rich in a subconscious attempt to prove themselves better than others. Still other people can't wait to prove themselves better in the future, and instead mortgage themselves immediately to acquire possessions they believe will give them worth in the eyes of society.

So much time is spent acquiring money that it is vital to understand the reasons for our actions and learn what we really want. Nearly everyone today is using money for more than the basics of food and shelter. Instead, our society is desperately consuming money in an attempt to show status. Although few people are willing to admit it, generally the desire to project wealth comes from insecurity about social standing. However, true improvement in social status doesn't come from borrowing against your future to gain a temporary appearance. Ultimately, your status is determined by all aspects of your personality - not just your money. When you project wealth, you are simply making the statement that you are a member of the class which feels insecure about their money - the Nuevo Riche. Instead, consider that the upper class is judged by their intellect and manners as well as their possessions. Although you may not be able to quickly increase your net worth, you can increase your knowledge and manners rapidly. Or you may decide that you are happy with your current social position and concentrate on things which are more natural and enjoyable.
I like travel, boating, reading, and having as much leisure time as possible. I'm willing to forgo almost any status symbol in order to have free time, an early retirement, and money to travel. If people judge me by my car, they probably aren't compatible with me. Nonetheless, projecting a degree of wealth may be necessary to attract the some people you wish to associate with. If that is the unfortunate case, you can at least try to project wealth in a cost-effective manner. For example, you could simply borrow or rent a luxury car for the rare occasions you need it - that's all you're doing anyway when you lease or take out a car loan.

The main reason I save money is to gain greater freedom from economic exploitation. I don't ever want to be trapped in a job or a mortgage with no way out. We often assume that debt and wage slavery are a normal condition of modern life. This is not the case if you are knowledgeable and patient.

The following advice may seem difficult and unreasonable to many who are currently trapped in a financial system stacked against them. In order to escape from economic exploitation, however, you must basically overcome the cumulative actions of your ancestors over many generations. This effort will never be easy, but it will insure that you and your children have a chance at freedom from what is otherwise an endless cycle of servitude.

Mortgage debt is the main tool which traps the average American in both his job and an exploitive banking contract. Yet, the average house costs only two or three times annual salary. It is the interest payments which make the home cost many times more and keep people trapped over the course of a 30 year mortgage.

During recessions, repossessed or run-down homes are sometimes available for half price or less. This can sometimes be as little as a person's annual salary. By saving just 20% of your annual salary for five years you can sometimes buy a house for cash during a recession. Alternately, you can buy land or a ruined house for less money and gradually build. A third option is to relocate with your savings and buy housing in a cheaper area. Once you are free from a mortgage (debt servitude) or rent, you are close to financial freedom. Furthermore, your children will be closer to freedom when they inherit the home from you one day.

Saving 20% of salary seems incredible to many Americans today. This was not always the case. Difficulty in saving is often due to conditioning. We are bombarded by an ever growing array of consumer products and encouraged to buy everything on credit. These products are often purchased for status or for the desire to fill some emptiness a person feels. It's important to analyze and remember what you really want in life. Are you buying on impulse or to impress others? If not, then you should often buy used items. When a product doesn't have a lot of moving parts, it generally functions about as well used as new - for half price or less. Buying pre-owned should cut your discretionary spending in half. The next big expense for many Americans is a car. Here again, many people pay double the price they need for basic transportation. Rather than buying on impulse, consider what is more important - a few inches of leg room, an annual vacation overseas, or the chance to save and start your own business someday. Even greater consideration should go into the apartment you rent or the home you buy.
Now that you've hopefully saved half of your luxury and automotive expenditures, the next big cost is food. In addition to saving money, learning traditional food preparation methods can also save time and greatly improve health.

Beyond food, you can save money by learning to repair and maintain all of your possessions. Although it may seem "impossible" people can quickly learn many methods to save 20% or more of their salary. After all, when given a 20% pay cut or forced to take a lower salaried job, few Americans starve but instead rapidly learn to become more frugal. Likely you will find even better financial plans for your own life.

Finally, an enormous amount of money is lost through subtle mechanisms in the financial industry. The banking, investment, and brokerage industries have become enormously wealthy and yet have no real product. Instead, these industries survive by taking a percentage of the earnings and savings of the working class. By researching and understanding these hidden methods of siphoning money, you can learn to cut them off one by one.

In summary, the state of our financial independence today is not much different from the majority of people throughout history. Most of us are born into an economic system stacked against us in ways which will never be advertised by the financial establishment. Difficult as it may be to admit, most people live in a state of subtle servitude to banks and employers because of an inability to efficiently save money. At any moment, the average person can lose everything if they stop working and end the constant flow of payments. The great news is that once you understand this system you can begin to deal with it and implement effective strategies to avoid the theft and leverage your newfound wealth. If you want real financial and employment freedom, it is vital to understand the system and then take action. Knowledge and action can eventually give you an unimagined degree of freedom once your efforts are no longer subtly siphoned away by others. Hopefully this information will assist in learning about a misunderstood topic, and attaining the happy and fulfilling work and freedom which should be the birthright of everyone.

This article is condensed from a chapter of, The Real Story of Money, Health, and Religion, by Loren Howe available in paperback or $1.25 download at:

About the Author

Loren Howe is an environmental engineer from Los Angeles. He has extensively studied traditional cultures and their practices. He can be reached for comment at