I read a Twitter post today from someone who had been in lockdown for a while. He said that he forgot how to use real money in the tweet because everything he had been buying recently he had bought using digital currency online.
Ok, a couple of things here. It isn’t a digital currency. It is still f*cking money. The money that you earned (presumably), so no matter how you are swapping it for whatever thing or service you have opted for… it still comes out of your pocket all the same. Do not get complacent with the ease that you can spend your money online. That is a very dangerous mindset to get into.
The second thing, it is not difficult to use money. You don’t really forget how to use it because it is just arithmetic and counting. So a dumb thing to say. I get the person who tweeted was being funny. I laughed… but then I didn’t.
The third thing, welcome to an exampled experience of life in China. I have not used physical money in years because everything here is more or less transacted using electronic payments. It is super easy to spend and receive money, and I have even been halfway up a mountain in China and been able to pay for some water using my phone.
This new future has its ups and downs. The upside is it is easy to track your spending and manage a budget because there is always an electronic paper trail.
The downside. It is so simple to spend money you can get carried away. Before you know it, you are a proud owner of a new pair of top-end trainers that came into your possession by doing nothing more than swiping your phone over a bar code reader.
On the other hand…
Counting out a hundred and fifty buckaroos and handing it over has a very different physiological effect in the brain than just an empty phone scan. Hard cash registers more.
Now, I am not saying we should use the hard cash. Nah, that is stupid. I say go straight to the electronic money and do not pass go.
I am good with it because I like the convenience, I want to budget, and I have some decent self-control.
I pity the fools who don’t have some control because you could easily trip down a hole of feel-good spending and only touch the pain after a couple of months.
I see the younger people get distracted by the ease of electronic spending more than others. It is a big part of their generation, after all, and they adapt quickly. So quickly, they might miss some essential money management experiences that can teach the basics.
If you have kids, then put in place a mechanism to help them learn and manage their money from an early age. No one else will. The schools don’t teach it, and I am not sure they should, so it is down to you, dear parent.
This is the thing I teach my son, the simple rule of three.
Budget – know how much money you have and how much you can spend on the stuff you need. Then how much you can spend on the stuff, you might want.
Curate – be selective when you buy stuff. Ask yourself what you will get from this purchase. Why do you need it, and will you honestly use it?
Control – stay in control by using something to track your spending, the money that you have to use is in your control, and no one else’s, so you must own it.
As for control, it comes down to you, son. Keep your own self-control and understand that it will be tested. The next big new thing will become very old quickly, remember that.
The only person that can cause you a ton of financial damage is yourself. So stay alert, stay knowledgeable and stay in control.
Oh, and don’t gamble. Online or in physical form.
That is a mug’s game.