From ‘time is money‘ to ‘tightening our belts‘, we’ve examined quite a few money related expressions and metaphors on Enrichmentality. But does such language have any real power over how we think – and act?
Tag: Your Money or Your Life
‘You are in a beauty contest every day of your life’.
A successful advertising slogan, defined as ‘a short and striking or memorable phrase used in advertising’ can exert a powerful influence over us. The importance of a company’s slogan is apparent in their market value. ‘Brands’, which include a company’s name, logo and slogan, are considered extremely valuable corporate assets, and can make up much of a business’s total value – sometimes the brand is more highly prized than its actual products.
Slogans like ‘Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline’, ‘You are in a beauty contest every day of your life’, or ‘Because you’re worth it’ are not only memorable, but make a clear association between daily product usage and self worth.
But what exactly is ‘it’ that you are supposedly ‘worth’?
We arrived in Milan, Italy yesterday, hungry. All throughout the flight, visions of plates overflowing with pasta danced in my head.
Upon landing at the airport, we took a bus straight for the city. On the way, we fervently started looking up Italian restaurants – and, no surprise, there were over 6,000.
But all of them were closed.
The herd instinct is ‘a mentality characterized by a lack of individual decision-making or thoughtfulness, causing people to think and act in the same way as the majority of those around them’. It’s a familiar term in investing, where investors are influenced by the positivity – or negativity – of others, and their behaviour then feeds into the market, perpetuating this cycle and sometimes leading to bubbles or crashes.
But the herd mentality I want to talk about today is the one that is much bigger than the stock market, and permeates almost all of our money (and other) decisions.
‘Keeping up with the Joneses‘ is an idiom in many parts of the English-speaking world, implying successfully matching the lifestyle of your neighbours.
Idioms, or fixed expressions such as ‘costing an arm and a leg’ or ‘waste not want not’, are normally considered ‘figures of speech’ in Linguistics, and their meaning is not the regular sum of their parts. For example, to ‘kick the bucket’ must be understood as a set phrase meaning to die, and cannot be determined by analysing the words ‘kick’ and ‘bucket’ alone. As a result, many idioms are culturally specific and difficult to translate.
Nevertheless, unsurprisingly, similar idioms suggesting changing on the basis of changes you observe in others exist in many languages: for example, the delightful Mexican idiom ‘Si de tu vecino ves la barba cortar, pon la tuya a remojar’- ‘If you see your neighbor has shaved his beard, you should start lathering yours’.
But in our globalised world, who exactly are your neighbours, and should you care?
‘Time is money’ wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1748, in Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One:
Remember that TIME is Money. He that can earn Ten Shillings a Day by his Labour, and goes abroad, or sits idle one half of that Day, tho’ he spends but Sixpence during his Diversion or Idleness, ought not to reckon That the only Expence; he has really spent or thrown away Five Shillings besides.
To update this slightly, Franklin is saying that there is an opportunity cost involved in deciding not to work: if you take a week’s unpaid holiday, you need to consider not only the costs of the holiday, but how much money you could have earned during that time.
Over time, the idiom has come to be associated perhaps more commonly with other people wasting your time rather than you not making the most of it: ‘I can’t afford to spend a lot of time standing here talking. Time is money, you know!‘
But what is the relationship between time and money?
Walking past a bakery in Bergen, Norway today, I was consumed by the sweet aroma of hot cinnamon.
In to Baker Brun we went, to buy a Skillingsbolle, described as ‘the all-time favourite Bergen treat’ with a name originating from its original price of one shilling. In fact, the word ‘shilling’ itself derives from the Old Norse scilling meaning ‘division’, and was a division of the old Norwegian Rigsdaler.
I love words, language, and reading – and most of all, books. New or old, I love them all.
But when it comes to books spouting financial advice, it pays to check the publishing date, just like it pays to check the manufacture and use-by dates on packaged foods.
So how are financial books like cases of wine with sour milk?
We all have our own ‘choice’ words to describe work-related stress, but Japanese has one of the most severe.
When I started my career, I always thought they’d have to carry me out of my office ‘in a pine box’ (as my grandmother’s charming expression would have it!). I thought I’d love it so much, I wouldn’t want to retire until I was 80+.
It didn’t take me that many years to realise that those visions might come a lot sooner than I expected if I didn’t stop working.
Over the past week, I suffered a mild cold, and for the first time, discovered that my main concern was getting well, rather than masking the symptoms sufficiently for me to perform my work duties.
We all want to be healthy, wealthy and wise – and to some extent, these three things may be related – making wise choices can improve our health and wealth, being healthy can help us to increase our wealth and education, and being wealthy often makes obtaining health care and education much easier. But aside from rhyming, what do health and wealth have in common?
Now that you know how much you need, and where you sit on the financial independence scale, let’s combine the two: how much is enough to be financially independent? Continue reading “How much is enough to be financially independent?”