Ok, first off, this book is written for those who worry a lot about their finances. If you don’t worry about your money, then this book isn’t for you. Although it might help you understand others who do worry about their own finances.
This book couldn’t have been more timely for today’s times. With many people losing their jobs amidst Covid-19, the fear of losing money and not having financial freedom can cause breakdown within oneself and within the family.
How to Worry Less about Money is written by John Armstrong. Armstrong is a philospher and works at Melbourne University. In a short book (140 pages), Armstrong explores our relationships with money, what makes hold on to money and how we can detach ourselves to be more free and less worrisome.
Right at the start, the writer clarifies one thing: “The book is about worries. It’s not about money troubles. There’s a crucial difference. Troubles are urgent. They ask for direct action. By contrast, worries often say more about the worrier than about the world.”
The writer goes on to explore our relationship with money. I loved how he says that money is “essentially a means of transaction. Money in itself is abstract.” What he aims to show here that all the associations and meanings we have money, we have assigned to it ourselves. But once we take a step back and dissociate and give no meaning to money, then we free ourselves from worrying about money.
Our relationship with money is similar to our relationships with other people. Money can make us happy and sad, it can give us pleasure and can make us angry. Money can bring out the jealousy from within us and also give us comfort when we use it for charity. Armstrong takes us through several key points where he asks us to address our relationship with money. He offers helpful tips and advice to enourage us to see money from a different perspective.
An entire chapter is devoted to assessing our needs and want, which is very useful in helping us see how important it is to purchase something that we think we need when it’s really something we want.
I hadn’t read elsewhere, but Armstrong talks about two important things at the end of the book. One, the problems of the rich, and two, the virtues of poverty. One of the biggest issues rich people face is inheritance. This is world wide issue, and despite Islam laying out a detailed inheritance law, people in this part of the world also suffer inheritance. Who gets how much? Why one gets more than another? Why did some money went to someone we don’t know? When one begins to feel more entitled, jealousy, anger and envy spoil relations between the people left behind with the inheritance.
For the rich, more money is never enough, especially if you look at politicians (corrupt ones especially) and top CEOs and Billionaires in the world. More money means they want more. People with lots of money often lead unhappy lives because money consumes their loves. Rich people also fall into comparison and start competing with others to get the latest gadgets, cars, travel just to show others they have more money, causing them to be really sad deep down. Like they say, more money, more problems. The song below came out ten years ago and it rightly dissipates the idea that with more affluence comes more problems.
On the flip side, Armstrong says that we can learn from those who live poverty. Since money is not God for them, they seem to be leading more content lives because they have other things on their hands. There is a freedom from obsession, along with a sense of independence- money doesn’t control them. There is a sense of finer perception, since they see people, including themselves, beyond money. People are not defined by their wealth, but by their inherent personalities. (Note: he doesn’t mean to refer to poor people who are under starvation, but refers to those who may stem from lower class. He doesn’t ask us to be poor, but rather to pick up from what make such people seemingly more happy than rich people).
Once again, this book is primarily aimed for those who do worry about money. It is a timely book for dire situation nowadays, and one can always learn something new about themselves and others. This book will not cure you of your worries, but will indeed lessen them.