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Perhaps money doesn’t make the world go around. When will the penny drop?

“Money makes the world go round.” How many times have you heard this? Lots of times, many would be willing to bet. But what we fail to see is that there are many things in life that are worth infinitely more than money – this is because money cannot buy them.

Think about the currency that swaps hands on a daily basis, really it is nothing more than printed paper. In that case, money really does not have any value at all, other than that which has been assigned to it. So why have the majority of people adopted the mind-set that we measure our personal worth against this piece of paper that has no real value?

Take a moment to imagine if the whole value exchange system has been constructed on a bag of sweets rather than currency; if someone has more sweets than you, they become a more valuable person. The whole concept is ridiculous.

Adam Smith suggests in Book 1 of The Wealth of Nations that the correlation between the costs of things does not make sense. A diamond for instance, is extremely expensive, but unnecessary to live. Water, on the other hand, is very inexpensive or even cost free, but is without a doubt essential to the preservation of life. Smith exemplifies the difference between these prices by looking at the opposing amounts of labour necessary to bring these commodities to the market. While the monetary value of a particular commodity may fluctuate for various reasons, the amount of labour required to purchase it remains consistent.

Unfortunately, most of our attitude towards money is ingrained in from early childhood, so we can’t really do anything about it. We would ask our parents for some money to buy sweets, or a toy, and would therefore learn to identify that everything we want in life will require money to get it – but is that true? What would be more beneficial to us at that age is learning that working for that money is what makes the purchase itself more valuable. How much enjoyment comes from working for the particular purchase or monetary effort required to get something will all depend on whether it is cheap or expensive.

“The aim of the Aberdeen Financial Literacy Project is to help take steps to improve financial literacy and awareness, specifically within the communities in which Aberdeen has a presence. This includes a financial literacy video series which aims to expose students to the importance of personal finance in fun, quirky and engaging ways.”

Money can be the root of all evil.

Unfortunately, it is not just the money, lack of money or the love of money that suggests money can be the root of all evil – it is human greed – a love of power, authority and a fear of want in this materialistic driven world. Since today is predominantly commercialised, emotions, feelings and attachment have become a primary commercial investment where money is concerned.

Even if we have money however, we have to ask ourselves are we actually in control with it? With money you can maintain your health, but you cannot rule your health, and unfortunately, without your health you have nothing. As we grow up our sense of power and worth tends to link to the wage we earn. As a result, our sense of personal value gets entwined in what we are able to earn per hour and becomes an emotional drive for increased wages, bigger homes, and the latest gadgets, rather than perhaps really enjoying the moment.

There is no doubt in saying you can always work to get more money, but you can never buy more time and that fundamentally makes us powerless.

Take a moment to imagine yourself as a waiter or waitress working in the local café. One day you catch eyes with someone sitting on the table in the corner drinking their coffee; eyes connect, out comes that cheeky little smile, you get butterflies in your stomach and suddenly your job becomes so much more worthwhile - especially when you see them write their number on the note they intend paying with.

As you carry on working they leave their five pound note on the table to cover their bill. You look over to see if they are still there, but they are gone – and so has the five pound note, and that’s when your heart sinks. You see a man running out the door with it, potentially never to be seen again.

Picture yourself running after the man, what would be going through your mind? Those drinks need paying for? Or actually - I want that number? Thought so. You tell him you will pay anything for the note in his hand, and that’s when he demands triple its worth. But you don’t care, do you? You hand over the £15 and in exchange you get what you wanted.

Sadly, it required money to get what you wanted and cost far more than the five pound note’s original value. But if it allowed you to get the number to connect with that person you shared a special smile with, surely it was worth every penny? Some things you just can’t put a price on.

Maybe it’s not just money that makes the world go around.

Source: Adam Smith, The wealth of Nations, Book I: On the Causes of Improvement in the Productive Powers. On Labour, and on the Order According to Which its' Produce is Naturally Distributed Among the Different Ranks of the People.

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