One of my high school friends used to say, “money, it’s just green paper.” Looking back, I assume this phrase could have been intended one of two ways:
- Relax, it’s only money. It doesn’t define who you are, it can’t kill you, and it won’t keep you warm at night. It doesn’t buy happiness.
- Spend it like you got it! Bring on the fun, we can worry about tomorrow, tomorrow!
At the time, I always assumed he was referring to the second definition. When I look back now (that’s over 10 years ago), I’m not so sure.
The thing is, his mom and dad were having money problems. I don’t know if it was due to a lack of income, or out of control spending. It was probably a little bit of both. Regardless, there were times when my friend would give his parents the money he earned while working weekends. He did this to help them through some of the leaner times. If he was ever repaid, I’m not sure. I do remember him indicating that repayment was doubtful.
We all come from different times and backgrounds, so I understand this may not seem odd to everyone. But to me, this was an eye opening experience. First, I realized how lucky I was to have parents who were able to take care of me and my brothers financially, without any effort on my part. I knew some of my classmates didn’t have it as well as I did, but up until that time, I hadn’t seen anyone my age contributing to the financial well being of their family.
Now that I reminiscence, I wonder if he picked up the “money, it’s just green paper” from his parents. If that’s true, it would be hard for me to believe that they said it in a way that aligned with the first definition. After all, the “spend it like you got it” attitude is one of the reasons our country was hurled into an economic recession. However, my guess is that when my friend said it, it was more of a coping mechanism aligning exactly with the description of the first definition.
I guess I’ll never know for sure and that’s ok. Have you ever made statements such as this one?