When I started typing “money is the…” into Google, it finished the phrase I was looking for without me having to type the rest.
“Money is the root of all evil.”
I am sure you know that’s what I was going to say. It’s a common phrase and also a terribly misunderstood one. That’s why I don’t think you should ever say it to your kids.
This phrase places money at the root of the problem. Money is not a problem. Human impulses, unchecked spending, and greed are all problems associated with money, but it’s not the money that’s the problem: it’s us.
The phrase itself is commonly misquoted. It’s from the bible and 1 Timothy 6:10 NIV actually says this:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
The love of money – not actual money itself – is the root of all kinds of evil. This is a much different and far more accurate statement.
Money has the power to do amazing things. It can pay for medical procedures, it can fund charities aiming to cure cancer, it can purchase a home, or it can buy someone a meal who may be in desperate need of a meal. It can pay for things that provide true fulfillment in our lives. There are endless ways that money can be used to put all kinds of good into the world.
But there is a flip side to that coin. Money can have tremendous power over people. It can cause people to accumulate wealth at a cost to their personal life or to take illegal and unethical measures to get more of it. Just look at Bernie Madoff.
Again though, this isn’t money’s fault. It’s the love of money that is at fault.
We teach our clients at Fiscal Fitness that when they gain clarity about their finances, money will become a positive force in their life. They can focus on their goals and big life ambitions and see how money plays a part in making those things a reality. But without a plan or their goals in mind, people think the only way to get what they want is to get more money. It’s a slippery slope and one that can lead to a love of money being the root of evil.
I ask you, don’t use this phrase when trying to explain money and finances to your kids. It instills a belief that money is bad. Instead talk to your kid about what he or she wants out of life and explain how money relates to those dreams. It’s a much more productive and honest conversation.