As much as we might talk about “cold hard cash”, the reality is that our relationship with money is usually highly charged. As many people are killed over money as love or both. Ironically, we hardly ever touch the stuff anymore, instead we deal with it with a few taps of a finger between the emails, mobile games and social media. In losing touch with money, perhaps we lose touch with how it flows? It behaves more like water than anything solid.
I posted one of my favourite money stories HERE a few months ago. It shows how one single note can solve the debt issues of an entire village in minutes. So how can we compare it to water? Let’s take single molecule of water, high in the clouds over Lesotho, getting caught up in a cloud and raining down over the mountains. It could run off and join a river, moving faster and faster until it lands up in a dam. A water savings. It could sink to the bottom of the dam and stay there decades, or move to the top with thermal clines and be evaporated into the air again. Withdrawing, going back into circulation only to rain down again. It could trickle through the soil and become part of a deep water table, staying there for millennia.
If it reaches the edge of the dam, then it could be pumped at massive pressure and speed into a turbine and produce energy, the start-up funding of water ecology. If the dam levels are low, then the energy stops and the ripple is felt right down the line.
Say next it gets caught up in a water pipe feeding the cities, a more modern way to transfer water, just like we have more modern ways to transfer money. It ends up coming out of a garden tap in Sandton, used to water a garden for pure entertainment and adornment. If it’s lucky, it will be absorbed by a plant, either moving right through it, or becoming part of the structure, a living water savings account, just like humans and animals. This is a vibrant water ecology. There is free transfer of water and everything is growing.
But then the rains dry up and those molecules become scarce. Watering gardens, filling pools, running fountains are all stopped. The flow is halted. Plants stop growing, they whither, then die – unless they have a built in water savings account like a succulent. The money equivalent of this drought was seen most recently in Greece, where banks were limiting withdrawals to a handful of Euros. Although we might have forgotten about it by now, during the credit crisis the taps were also dialled down to a trickle. Banks weren’t lending and the circulation stopped. America and elsewhere has had to open the gates on the dam to increase circulation for years now (called quantitative easing, now transitioning into a painful stop-start ‘normalisation’). Once you turn off the taps it takes a while for the ecosystem to get back into balance. Water can also get caught up in a toxic, polluted mess that is of no use to anyone until it is cleaned or evaporates, and leaves the system. While there it can contaminate the entire system, so too with the sub-prime loans.
Are we losing anything by never touching the folding stuff? We experience things through all our senses, by reducing our exposure to money to purely a visual one, we lose the kinaesthetic or tactile relationship with money and depending on the person, this can have a huge impact. Someone who’s preferred sense is kinaesthetic will feel very differently about paying for something with cash as opposed to just handing over a card and getting an sms. It usually dramatically decreases wasteful expenditure. This trick can be used by anyone who is battling to make meaningful savings, irrespective if there is a flood or drought of money in their lives. It is the net savings that count for everyone’s long term sustainable wealth. If you’re prefered sense is visual, then the digital age will feed into the behaviour, but it can be helped with an app that visually shows you how you are spending your money (like 22seven).
Action: Irrespective of your take-home pay, if you aren’t saving or investing a good 15% of it you might have lost touch with the folding stuff. Try taking out your ‘pocket money’ as cash for a month and see if there is a change in your spending habits.You can create an artificial drought by putting away your savings as soon as they hit your account.
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Author Dawn Ridler ©