I have a complicated relationship with money.
When I was growing up, my family and I weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of money either. We were a typical middle class family in the Philippines. We had no car, but we had a decent home. We never went to sleep starved, but we weren’t living in luxury.
But I grew up around a lot of conflict about money. My dad’s siblings fought about inheritance a lot. Many of my uncles and aunts didn’t speak to each other for months, even years, because of disagreements on who should get what.
What I saw around me growing up inevitably shaped my attitudes towards money. For much of my teenage years, I associated money with greed. Rich people, in my mind, were bad people. I promised never to put wealth above personal relationships.
When I moved to Canada in my late teens, however, all I wanted was some money. My dad died when I was 12, so my mom worked hard as a single parent to raise three kids. It was hard seeing my mom work multiple jobs just to get food on the table. And being in a country of overabundance, I found it tough not to get envious of other teenagers around me. Many teens around me had the latest gadgets and the coolest clothes. Feeling out of place, I wished for more cash in my family’s bank account.
I used that ambition—that thirst for a better life—to put myself through university. In many ways, that ambition still drives me. I work hard today so I can be comfortable. So I can spoil the ones I love once in a while.
More recently though, I’ve become more aware of my conflicted feelings toward money. I discovered that I still associated money with greed. I learned that I held some guilt for having a comfortable life in Canada while some of my relatives in the Philippines are barely earning enough to eat three meals a day.
In fact, when I launched this blog, I considered dropping wealth as a topic. If I don’t have my feelings about money figured out, who am I to write about it?
Another issue: I’m not close to my earning potential. Despite a decent job with a decent pay, I still worry about my bank account’s balance.
Through further self-reflection, though I’ve realized that I do want wealth. That’s because wealth, I’ve realized, isn’t synonymous money. Wealth is about free time and having the freedom to do what you’d like with that time. It’s about abundance of relationships and having people that energize you and that move you forward. It’s about wanting only the things that matter while also being content with what you already have.
I don’t have my feelings about money completely figured out. But I hope that through this blog, I can come to terms with those feelings and pursue true wealth.