A Note on Money

Heyo guys! First - I must apologise for being MIA these past 3 weeks. My new job is amazing, and my brain is still learning how to sing wholehearted Kumbayas in several camps. I'm not even kidding.

Also - "What I Really Think of App and Online Dating" will be out in 2 weeks time. Forgive Jessi about the delay. I promise that article will be written!

Taking a short break from Christian Dating blogging, I wanted to stress the importance of financial literacy. 

You're probably thinking: "Where the heck did that come from? R-andom!" OR "You're a Poet. What the HECK would you know about making money?" And you're right, I know very little. But I wanted to provide a head-in-clouds Creative's perspective on how it all clicked for me, because so many of you reading this are much more talented, intelligent, privileged and possibly too relaxed about this. (No judgment! But it's precisely the reason why you really need to keep reading...)

BEING ASIAN: THE ORIGINS OF MY FINANCIAL PERSPECTIVE

Not my Dad, but this old dude looks super-Indonesian and it transports us to 1970s Java, methinks!

Not my Dad, but this old dude looks super-Indonesian and it transports us to 1970s Java, methinks!

My Mother is one of my greatest heroes. Earning approximately $450 per week, she lived on about 30% of that, coordinating a budget with my Dad so they would be able to save as much as possible for their first house.

Herself and my Father came from poverty in Indonesia to Sydney with $200 and a suitcase, taking dishwasher jobs and eventually buying a Taxi plate which would increase in value, an asset I learned to appreciate as I got older.

Loathing the dead-money activity that was renting, my parents put a deposit on an apartment in a heavy-migrant populated suburb in Sydney, about 25min from the CBD. They did this on a credit card. A desperate move that drove my Father to workaholism, the stress that drove him to an early death-by-heart attack at 54 years of age. 

My sister, a different breed of amazing, stepped up to take on the primary breadwinner role at just 23 years old. Recently she told me that she would stay awake at night, checking all our savings accounts, ensuring we had enough money to make our monthly mortgage repayments. Failure was not an option for our 3-woman household. We would pay off this mortgage, and we would stay planted in the legacy my Father died to complete and my Mother slaved to continue.

"IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY", OR IS IT?

The primary desire of man is to seek pleasure, or is it?

The primary desire of man is to seek pleasure, or is it?

I often joke about how my Asian family has taught me unreasonable frugality. My moisturiser, concealer and body wash runs out, so I scrape the dregs off the bottom and dilute it with water to make it last longer. I always check shop-a-dockets for good deals, browse supermarket aisles for the cheapest brands of green tea and salad mix. Mum even buys caged eggs because they're cheaper. I've told her about the suffering chickens. She nods and still buys caged eggs anyway. 

Something I'm super sensitive about, is my career choice. I'm a full time Social Worker and adored studying it at uni. If you've heard/read my spoken word piece Privilege, I usually introduce it at slam features by comparing these two quotes:

"The primary desire of man is to seek pleasure," said psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. He was then challenged by Nazi concentration camp survivor, Viktor Frankl, whom said "the primary desire of man is to seek a deep sense of meaning; and should he not find meaning then he will numb himself with pleasure."

Meaning vs. Pleasure

If you juggle both in tandem, in the life you are currently living, then I salute you. It's not an easy balance to strike.

At 18 I was lightning-struck with the self-knowledge of being a Tortured Artist (from deep within my soul etc.), but knew I couldn't trust it to provide consistent income. I soul-searched for a bit, after hating my Communications degree, and decided I wanted to rescue women from being trafficked into the sex industry (another meaning-driven-yet-non-money-making-venture. Harsh, but true.)

I associate trains with the Rat Race. Take that, relevance!

I associate trains with the Rat Race. Take that, relevance!

People whom confidently state, "It's not about the money" or "Money isn't everything" in the throes of passionate life/money conversations are either

A) Heirs to their parents/grandparents fortune and have lived a reasonably comfortable life;

OR

B) Have worked their asses off to provide an inheritance to their children/grandchildren.

Most people whom make such naive statements are often in category A) and are under the age of 35. I know, because I used to be one. 

My wise, emotionally intelligent mouth now closes in the presence of such inane statements. Should they be renting, and not saving for the future, I respectfully state that reality will click-torch the fuuuuh-dge out of their delusional paradigms soon. Sorry.

I'm not saying money is everything, but statements like that usually run parallel with financial illiteracy, giving no time or attention on how to actually understand money for themselves.

(Side note: Ladies, you can't wish upon your Magic Husband Star if you aren't at least reading these babies.)

People in Category B are often over the age of 45, and I consider them financially literate role models, whose lives freaking scream this value they preach. In a sentence, they've earned their right to say "It's not about the money". Having built their wealth, they've proven they are no longer incentivised by money anymore; for building millions requires curbing one's consumer appetite. They now sit on the peak of their financial goals.

Some anecdotal evidence: I personally know a Millionaire who works full time as a Social Worker only because she loves her work, and considers herself blessed to have 4 beautiful daughters and several grandchildren. She owns 3 houses, 5-acre land, 4 horses and is currently building her 4th house. I want to either steal her DNA or force her to adopt me. I also consider her a personal Mentor.

IN DEFENCE OF WEALTH CREATION

So you're probably wondering now - how did Jessi the Tortured Artist go from very left wing to in the middle/Right-Wing-Ayn-Rand-sympathising?

Well, for the first 25 years of my life, I was preoccupied with pursuing meaning and purpose. Climbing Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, if you will. Wanting home to feel like a sanctuary. I call this pursuit: prosperity of soul.

Priorities baby, priorities.

Priorities baby, priorities.

It hasn't stopped, but let me explain.

Far-fetched yet actually serious examples from my life include:

  • volunteering to help victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia (2010)
  • recording and releasing a solo EP (2010)
  • planning yearly stints to do aid work in developing countries (2011)
  • refining my vocal techniques as a Church Worship Pastor in training (2013-2014)
  • competing in National Poetry Slams (2012)
  • spending thousands of dollars on counselling for myself and my family (2015), and
  • the deep-seated desire to become a New York Times Best Selling Author by influencing people over the Internet to reach their God-given potential by starting this blog! (2015-present). 

My creative blood-force clashed with the fierce, practical determinations of my Mother and sister, whom did not possess the advanced and acute emotional intelligence required to persuade a full-metal-jacket, head-in-clouds Creative. I understood bills needed to be paid, but as long as we had enough, we would be fine. I thought they were greedy, overvaluing wealth creation (a term I once loathed).

I'm not sure when the definitive moment of my paradigm shift came, but perhaps it was when I lived with 3 American chicks in Surry Hills, paid low rent, and while I was reasonably comfortable, my frustration for being an undervalued Social Worker began to erode my peace. 

How I felt working so hard for so little...

How I felt working so hard for so little...

"I work so incredibly hard. Why aren't I paid more?"

I watched other professions requiring much less skill and expertise earn twice what I was. I'm not in it for the money, I kept telling myself.

As long as I save a little, I'll be fine. And I looked around at the colleagues who had given their lives to my organisation, a cognitive push caused by reading Dan Palotta's Uncharitable.

“If you want to make 50 million dollars selling violent video games to kids, go for it. We'll put you on the cover of Wired magazine. But you want to make half a million dollars trying to cure kids of malaria, you're considered a parasite yourself."

I didn't aspire to be them. Due to their low pay, their intrinsic incentive to 'change the community' was limited, bar one or 2 of my Managers. I began to resent my decision to pursue meaning and purpose through Social Work. Why didn't I become a Teacher or a Journalist? I could have made a huge impact in those professions and made more money, surely! Heck, why didn't I just become a Stockbroker?

Sick of being poor and hard working, I sent in my resignation letter shortly after. 

THE WAY I THINK NOW

Yes, I want to create wealth. I want to do it for my family, my future offspring, my projected wedding and life-partner-to-be; and to free myself of the slavery that comes from limited options, caused by lack of financial means. And I no longer want to be incentivised by money. 

What I mean by this is, I want to be incentivised only by the pleasure of adding value to the world.

Adding value to this little baby right here (The World)!

Adding value to this little baby right here (The World)!

(In case you were wondering: My family owns their house, and I work for an awesome NGO whom are able to value staff with a great salary and perks to boot.)

I want to devote years researching topics like Intimacy, Attachment Theory, and Child and Adolescent Psychology to help other Social Workers in their restorative practice. I want to house children in Out of Home (Foster) Care and not worry whether I can afford to adopt them long-term. I want to start a corporation that gives career opportunities to deserving, hard working people. I want to create trust funds for any family overseas who are struggling. 

I want to shout my girlfriends brunch one Saturday, just cos I felt like it.

I want to buy a house and turn it into a place of stability for my kids, and a sanctuary for my future husband and myself. I want to buy several investment properties (alas, let's see how that goes).

But I don't want to build wealth through a mysterious Genie's blink. I want to work, save and sweat for it. I want to listen to audiobooks that teach me about assets and liabilities, and how to build that first column. I want the satisfaction of having saved for my first income-producing-asset, and seeing it yield great returns.

But I still want to be a Social Worker, a Poet and a Christian Dating Blogger. I want to stay true to myself and how God has created my gifts, talents, ability and natural personality. Thanks to this rogue, heavily misunderstood term financial literacy, I can dabble in my livelihoods and plan to become a millionaire. 

Homeboy Martin who pursued his God-given talents, abilities and natural personality through publishing the 95 Theses in 1517.

Homeboy Martin who pursued his God-given talents, abilities and natural personality through publishing the 95 Theses in 1517.

And for you still-unconvinced Creatives reading this, I'm going to be straight up:

The only reason many of us could become Artists, is because our families provided a stable foundation of food, shelter, belongingness and love. Not trying to guilt trip you! Hate me if you want, but unless you have discovered a means of enterprising your creative talents, and maintaining stability in other ways, you will spend the remainder of your life poor.

Our ceiling will be our children's floor. I don't want you to freak out. It's possible for you to start small, and start now.

The books I'm currently reading to fatten my financial literacy are:

  • Get Rich Slow - Sarah Riegelhuth
  • Rich Dad Poor Dad - Robert Kiyasaki
  • Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill
  • The Richest Man in Babylon - George S. Clason

The beauty of these books is that their audiobook versions are FREE on YouTube, or borrow-able from your local library! Yippee! 

A bit left of field from the usual Weekly Comfort Blog, but it's where the road has curved as of late. 

So, may your soul prosper as your bank account does also.

NEXT BLOG: 

Airy Fairy Things Christians Say About Money

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