The older (and hopefully wiser) I get, the more I realize that life isn’t black and white. It’s usually multiple shades of gray. Often, there are no right or wrong answers — just what’s best for the current situation.
That being said, I know that most people crave certainty. A lot of people come up to me and ask, “What’s the best way to invest?” Well the truth is, I’m not a prophet so I really don’t know.
But screw it. Today, I’m gonna break away from the safe “it depends on your situation” answer and tell you my rules for money. Just for this one article, I’m gonna share the Commandments of Money that apply to everyone, everywhere. Yes, everyone.
You may or may not recognize these “Commandments.” After all, they were heavily inspired by ancient religious texts. But I know them to be true. And you probably do too…
1. You Shall Have No Emotions Before Money
For most people, money is a very emotional thing.
If you don’t believe me, try taking fifty dollars out of your colleague’s wallet, and see what happens.
But being emotional about money is bad for you. (So bad that I wrote a 1,274 word article about it.) When we get emotional about something, we normally make bad decisions. Like the saying goes:
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
So here’s the first and hardest commandment: don’t be emotional about money. But if you are emotional, at least admit it first — then we can start dealing with those emotions.
2. You Shall Not Worship Money
Money isn’t a religion, but judging by how some people treat it — you’d think it’s their god. Some people devote all their thoughts and energy towards making more money.
Okay, I’m not saying money isn’t important. It is. And because money can do great things for you (especially when you’re struggling), it’s very easy to feel that money should be the main focus of our lives. It’s also very easy to get caught in a destructive cycle where you’re constantly chasing for more, because it never seems enough.
But look deeper — focusing all our thoughts on money isn’t going to solve all our problems. It’s definitely not gonna make us happier either. Our lives are a lot more than a balance sheet of how much money you have. What about the more important things like family, friends and fun?
Money is just a tool to be used in our lives, not a god. We make it our slave; not become slaves to it.
3. You Shall Not Underestimate Human Stupidity
You will never master money if you don’t understand human behavior (and its associated stupidity). Thankfully, we live in an age where it’s so easy to study history and human psychology.
We know that humans are irrational. We know that without conscious effort, people normally make bad decisions. Even the smartest ones among us are susceptible to biases, greed, and moments of madness.
We respect that. So when we get overconfident and say, “I know I’m right! I know this investment is guaranteed to make money!,” we check ourselves and say: Stop being crazy!
4. Remember to Rest; Health Is More Valuable Than Money
Theoretically, money is unlimited. If you play your cards right, you could have more money than you know what to do with.
But time is not; time is the real limiting factor in life.
Would you kill yourself at work to earn just a few hundred dollars more? It would be really sad if all that extra money went to paying for hospital bills.
Nobody lies on their death bed wishing they had spent more time trying to make more money.
5. Honor Your Father and Mother. Use Money to Be Nice to People
If it’s acceptable in your culture, give money to your parents.
Use your money to help others, including the poor. Be nice to other people and build relationships with them. Not because you want to get their money or use them for favors someday. Just because you’re the kind of person that gives to people.
This is the only time in this article where I’m gonna bring in something intangible. But if you’re kind to other people, especially those who are in difficult situations — whether you believe in God, karma or the circle of life — you will be rewarded.
6. You Shall Not Only Consume. You Should Create Value
We live in an age where it’s easy to just take, take and take. It’s the golden age of consumption. We can spend all our time on Lazada, buying new things to make us feel good. But living like this makes us forget that money is generated by producing, not consuming.
Consumers don’t earn money; they pay money.
And endless consumption numbs you. It kills your creative senses and your ability to make money. This is death.
But when you create value; what you’re really doing is creating money. Because money is an effect of value. If you want to be rich, you have to give value to lots of people.
Don’t just be the guy buying the latest iPhone. Be the guy creating the latest iPhone. Or at least the latest iPhone app.
7. You Shall Control Your Lust
All of us have lust. Some of us lust for beautiful cars, some of us lust for exotic vacations, and some of us lust for that cute Starbucks barista who makes you coffee every morning.
This isn’t a moral article, so I won’t comment about whether you should ask him/her out. But when it comes to money, you need to control your desires. Does that mean you should never buy another iPhone in your life? No, I said control, not remove.
Control means you decide what is most important to you and focus your money on those things. Choose just the few important ones and forget everything else. Then set a budget for these things, and follow it. This is financial discipline.
Eating avocado sandwiches won’t make you broke. But trying to have a combination of a BMW, international vacations every month, Starbucks coffees every day, and avocado sandwiches every lunch will.
8. You Shall Not Steal
The way you make money needs to be honest. How honest? I know you don’t steal anything from your colleagues (except their lunchtime french fries), and you don’t pay bribes to government officials (right?) — so well done.
But I’m talking about deeper honesty issues. Like not stealing extra expenses when doing your travel claims. Not stealing ideas from your colleagues without giving them credit. And not stealing company working hours to run your side business; but instead doing your best for the job you’re entrusted with.
I know, everyone else does that shit. But even if they do, you could be a role model for honest living. We complain about corruption all the time, so why not do something about it — personally.
Honest living leads to self-respect. Healthy self-respect leads to success. Plus you’ll sleep well at night too.
9. You Shall Not Betray Trust
We’ve already talked about honesty, so now let’s talk about her delicate younger sister: trust.
Because trust is the magic that makes human relationships work. Trust is the soft silk string that binds us all together. Break it and you break our ability to do business with each other.
Some people think they can lie, cheat and swindle to get whatever money they want. This is a lie. And it only works once.
Once trust is broken, relationships are never the same. Nobody wants to give money to a liar.
10. You Shall Not Be Jealous
I know how it looks. Everyone else’s life seems to be cooler than yours. They have a better job with a better-looking boss. They get to holiday all the time. They drive a nicer car and have a bigger house.
But what we don’t see is the sacrifices they make to achieve those things. Maybe their good-looking boss is actually a pervert. Maybe they vacation all the time because they f*cking hate their jobs. And maybe they’re drowning in debt because of their overpriced house and car.
My point is, everyone’s on a different journey in life: whether in work, relationships or money. Why should we worry about anyone else’s journey apart from our own? The only thing we need to check is if we’re 1% better today than we were yesterday. Let’s stop comparing with anyone else, because that only makes us unhappy and do stupid things with money.
Jealousy is a useless emotion.
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What happens if you break a commandment?
Don’t worry. Like I said, money isn’t a religion and this isn’t a religious sermon. There’s no money god who will punish us if we occasionally break the rules. So be easy on yourself if you fail — nobody’s perfect.
After all, it’s not easy to follow the Ten Commandments of Money. It’s a difficult path. Just don’t give up; pick yourself up and do better next time.
You might just get to financial heaven.
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