Money: Means to an End or Just an End?

by JT McGee

The world is all about perspective, but when it comes to money there are only two perspectives, it seems. We either appreciate money, or we appreciate the things we can buy with money.

Overall it’s a fairly simple concept—how we spend our money has much to do with how we value its utility, and how we value its utility has much to do with how we spend our money.

How I See My Money

When it comes to most everything I do, I’m a near perfect utilitarian. The solution to all my problems is a simple question of “Does it work?”

If yes, I keep things how they are. If not, I do only the minimum necessary to bring it back to its function.

There is no room for error in performance; however, I will never, ever dedicate my time to things that are solely cosmetic. I drove a car for half a year without a side mirror, believe it or not!

This personality trait became most evident to me when I compared my viewpoint to that of my girlfriend. I should be sure to note that she is not in any way a spendthrift—she once tried to return an item to the dollar store! (I have since published another post about couple’s personal finance differences.)

Different Views

Even with her obsessive-compulsive returning-stuff-to-save-money disorder we still see things differently. The thing is, I budget mercilessly; she doesn’t at all. I can tell you how much I’ve spent on everything (with a few minor exceptions for the sake of practicality.) She admitted recently that she monitors only the total of her savings plus checking.

We do, I think, have some difference in perspective about our money. I focus on money as an end in and of itself, stockpiling, saving and investing so that eventually I’ll…well, have more money.

She focuses on the benefits of having more money. Maybe it’s a nice apartment, a dinner out, or another dog—she’d collect them if she could! She wouldn’t ever overspend, I don’t think; it’s just that in her reality, money is the means to the other things she enjoys.

Your Thoughts

I’m curious to know how you think. How do you see your money?

Is your money just money, or is it what it can bring for you: freedom, time, must-haves or wants?

Has your perspective on your money, your finances, ever changed?

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This is my first ever post. If you’d like, head on over to the About Me page. 🙂

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jeff January 28, 2011 at 20:27

JT,
good first post. After coming out of philosophy class today, I learned that according to Aristotle money is the means to an end. The ultimate end is happiness, and money just helps us reach happiness, the chief good. I don’t know if I particularly believe this. I love money, but I love having success more than anything. Not just financial success, but success in any competition really helps me reach my ultimate end.

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JT McGee January 28, 2011 at 20:39

Interesting.

I agree with you on the success point…dollars are to me basically “points.” And how I earn them is as important as having a lot of them!

Thanks for stopping by!

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