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Saturday, June 2, 2012

How to be Financially Heroic

While I was growing up, my parents were always worried about money. Therefore, so was I. We were weighed down by debt and bad luck and despite Hollywood's efforts to convince me otherwise, I didn't think there was anything beautiful or heroic about not being able to pay our bills. Being poor just sucked.

My parents knew nothing about money. They still don't know anything and they don't want to. The desire to not understand money is a refusal to know reality. It's the fear that once you know reality, you will have to make rational choices. You will have to practice self-control. You wont be able to blame your economic circumstances on luck or the government anymore.

When I first set about getting myself a financial education, I took a year of Fed-supoorting Econ classes at Wesleyan University and read a lot of Suze Orman books. Not a great beginning.

But then I stumbled upon The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. It asks one simple thing: Do you have the soul of a slave or a rich man? According to Clason there is no in between. Only irrational people can know what they should do and not do it. That is called having the soul of a slave. Rational people, who know what they should do and do it, won't be able to help but become rich.

That was a new idea for me. At first I thought, but what about rational people who don't know what they should do? What if I am busy with other things and I don't have the time to learn about money? My imaginary friend, Ayn Rand, replied, "LOL! Rational people who think it's rational to not know about money? Money is the material shape of the principle of men who wish to deal with one another by trade and give value for value. Money is a tool of exchange that represents what you have produced. Money represents your time and efforts. Money is your means of survival. There is no such thing as a rational man who is not interested in learning about his own survival."

So what does this have to do with having children? Despite the obvious--pregnancy, birth and children are costly--there is an important philosophical element to learning about money before you have kids.

Stefan Molyneux, who does a podcast called Philosophical Parenting, killed me in parts three and four when he enthusiastically argued for at least one parent to stay home with his/her kids when they're young (I enthusiastically agree!) but then bragged about driving a 12-year-old car and admitted to "knowing very little about money" and "not being very good with money". He sees himself as a philosophical parent because he gives his daughter what she really needs which was his time. I would like to offer a different philosophical ideal:

Be well off. Be well off enough for one parent to stay home and for your family to still have a fantastic standard of living. This doesn't mean you have to make a million dollars a year, it means you just need to know what you should do and do it when it comes to money and then you won't be able to help but become rich.

Far more than being home with them all day every day, children need genuinely happy parents who are successful, confident and balanced. They need heroes who can inspire them and teach them by example how to lead a great life.

Be the hero you want to see in your children before you have them. That, to me, is philosophical parenting.

Things to help you on your quest to becoming financially heroic:

Atlas Shrugged: this is the antidote to the mainstream media's messages all rich people are bad.

The Richest Man in Babylon: this is the recipe for becoming a non-slave.

The documentary Thrive: so you know the evil you are fighting against.

The YouTube video titled A manifesto for those who respect property rights: so you know the best way to fight against that evil is by being a hero (or, "something far more rare--a real man" as Ayn Rand would say).

Parts Three and Four of the Podcast Philosophical Parenting by Stephan Molyneux: a seriously flawed podcast but the rant on two working parent households is hilarious and relevant

1 comment:

  1. Umm... Yes, yes, and YES!!! I dare say Ayn Rand would approve of this Blog post. This just makes absolute sense.

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