I read a couple of pieces of "advice" pretty often in financial books and articles. One is this: even if you are "short" on money, establish a habit of giving money to those less fortunate than you [because you will get back more than you give]... I know that there are some religious connotations to this.... I am certainly not denigrating anyone's religious beliefs, but it seems to me that this is a "money myth" that doesn't seem to have any grounding in reality and could potentially get you in trouble.
The other "money myth" is related to this one ... "if you get rid of stuff, you make room for more in your life" whether it's more physical "stuff" or more other "stuff" like relationships, etc. What's up with that one? I know that getting rid of excess stuff feels good, and it certainly can give you more time to pursue other things ... but that seems more common sense and less metaphysical.
So what are your thoughts on these two related money myths ... ? Have you found this to be true in your life? Why? What are other "money myths" you've heard? Have you found them to be true? Please share.
Many Fools responded with their thoughts and experiences. Here are a few of them.
Cbrown24 replied: "Personally I believe they are both myths. I grew up with the first one, parents who tithed. We didn't have a very good diet and I didn't have enough socks. Still, this doesn't mean I don't donate money to charity or causes I believe are worthwhile and I am always de-cluttering, it seems like."
Slowlrnr said: "I have no idea whether there is any truth to [the first myth]. Logically, it doesn't make any sense, yet I've seen it occur in my own life. Last year, when we really started dealing more responsibly with our finances, more money came in. Even when in the depths of debt repayment, we still felt a 'pull' to donate to specific causes.... We had a 401(k) appear from a job I had five years ago (I had no idea about the account). We also stumbled across a tax error from three years ago that gave us a $1,000+ refund."
How could scenarios like the one above be explained? Ramsfanray offered one take: "I think that if a person is donating money to charity, especially people on tight budgets, they are very conscious of how much money they can donate and still pay their bills. So they watch their money a little more carefully, and as a result they 'find' money."
Naggingfool also offered a thoughtful explanation: "I suspect that both of these work ... because dealing with money isn't solely a rational matter, it's also an emotional one. And a lot of people who have trouble with money have more trouble handling the emotional aspects. So these two myths are about building habits that make financial change easier.... Thinking about other people who are not as comfortable as we are tends to make us appreciate what we have more. This means it's easier to 'deny ourselves' those little treats we thought we needed. If I have money for a deluxe coffee every day, I do have enough money to help a child in Africa. That sort of thinking. Also, helping someone else makes you feel like a more successful person. Doing something positive makes you feel in control of your situation, which makes it easier to do the hard things you need to do to get in control of your situation."
Reader99 noted: "I started seriously giving material things away in 1995. The more I try to keep open spaces in my house, the more stuff keeps coming in. I went from Wanting Wanting Wanting, wanting something every day and every week, to struggling to keep the stuff out. It's beating down the doors to get in now that I can take or leave having more stuff, and even prefer not to. I started giving money away when I read an article [that] postulated that when you give away money you see yourself as a person who has plenty, and then your life starts to act as if you really do have plenty -- act your way into the state you want to be in. It seems to me it worked."
Kasuma724 reported: "I don't give in order to get more. I give because it changes me psychologically. It keeps me from suffering fear and being totally self-absorbed. It reminds me that no matter what, I am not a victim and that I have something to offer the world. It reminds me that there are always people who are worse off than I am. It reminds me that many things I think I need are really only wants. It reminds me how much I have to be grateful for in my life. It reminds me that by virtue of being born American, I am automatically wealthier than the majority of people in the world. It reminds me that I have responsibilities for my fellow passengers on the earth. And I give, in part, because I believe it is what God commands me to do -- so I give as an act of faith. So far, I've never had that faith disappointed."
On a similar note, Ramsfanray offered a view of poverty: "I've read that being poor is more about the feeling of constant deprivation than specifically having less than some specific amount of money. It's called relative deprivation. Being poor in the U.S. means not having cable and using food stamps. Being poor in Mexico means risking your life to illegally enter another country for a chance to work in a dangerous job at two bucks an hour."
How do we live and retire?
Because I'm a Fool writer, interested in promoting financial security, this conversation got me thinking about how we live and plan to retire. I agree with those who see average Americans as rich compared to the rest of the world. But even though we're rich, we still want to keep that nice roof over our heads and not have to worry about how we'll manage retirement.
Today more than ever, we can't count on pensions and Social Security. We need to take matters into our own hands. You can -- and should! -- learn some basics about retirement planning and consider taking some first steps toward securing your future. Learn more about the topic in our Retirement Center and in these articles:
- 401(k) Tips
- 60-Second Retirement Plan
- Your Incredible Vanishing Pension
- Confront the Brutal Facts of Your Retirement
- Get Rich by Beating the Odds
Also, consider taking advantage of a free trial of our Rule Your Retirement newsletter.
De-cluttering your investing
And while you're at it, ask yourself whether your investing style needs some de-cluttering. Do you find yourself bogged down by stock analysis that offers more confusion than satisfaction? Do you wonder what to do once you determine that Marine Products
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Selena Maranjian 's favorite discussion boards include Book Club , The Eclectic Library, and Card & Board Games. She owns shares of no companies mentioned in this article. For more about Selena, viewher bio and her profile. You might also be interested in these books she has written or co-written:The Motley Fool Money GuideandThe Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.