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How do you define Money?

Updated on April 25, 2012

I was having a very nice discussion with someone the other day and the subject was money. The debate was on what money really is. That brought up many other questions concerning the definitions of money i.e. the various ways one can describe money. What is your own definition of money? How do you define/view money? What does money mean to you? How much money is just enough?

These and many other questions crept into the conversation which went very far down the line to show me how little we know or understand the money complex.

That very discussion set us off on the path of discovering the various ways people view this thing called money, how some people see it. It was quite a surprise to me when I discovered that many people actually see it in different light.

I will be reporting it like those six blind men of Hindustan who went to “see” the elephant because money is exactly like that!

So without wasting your time let us delve in at once.

Money as the means of exchange

Money is the convenient symbol that represents and measures the value of goods and services exchanged between people. This is the only non-crazy definition I got because it is actually true. It is the only physical means through which the value of any good provided and services rendered could be measured.

So if you happen to be complaining that you don’t have enough of it, check it, it is most likely because you are not producing enough value to add to someone’s life at the moment.

But there is a little puzzle in this generally accepted definition because it stresses value and you and I know that what is so valuable to you might never be valuable to me! Besides, people’s sense of value may depreciate or become worthless thereby calling for the constant update of what people understand to be money under this context.

People may even go as far as using other human beings as a means of exchange like what was obtainable during the slave trade era.

Money as freedom and power

Who doesn’t know that? Personally this is how I view money. I tend to see it as a sign of pure freedom and the more of it you have, the more freedom you can buy for yourself and/or any other person(s) you wish.

It means freedom from work or hard labor; freedom to choose and decide what you want for yourself in this life and above all, money can be viewed as the symbol of status which gives an individual the power to control others.

Money as your Knowledge and Skills

Of course! Money is the summation of all your skills and knowledge. It is the reason why you are sent to school to acquire some knowledge and/or skills so as to be able to provide some form of satisfaction for some other person some day.

The implication with this type of definition is that it acknowledges the fact that the people who should have the most money are those who have gone to school to acquire knowledge and/or skills which happens NOT to be the case in the real world because going to school these days don’t guarantee getting money in the end.

But that is because we have failed to see that there is a very huge difference between having special knowledge/skills and just having ordinary knowledge!

So if you don’t have any special knowledge and/or skill in our world today, chances are you are NOT going to be rich.

Money as the only reason why some people are rich why some are poor

Why do you think some people are said to be rich while some other people are said to be poor? It is because of the amount of money they have. In this case, it is that intangible possession which the rich has, which the poor hasn’t but wants badly…

Countries are classified as both developed/rich countries and developing/underdeveloped/poor countries because of their GDP and GNP figures which show the amount people in such countries can earn on the average…

Strictly speaking, money is the only difference between the rich and the poor!

Money as the root of all evil

Sadly though it seems like money is indeed the root of all evil in this world as every thing that is wrong with our world is obviously or remotely connected to it and that is so true.

Criminals rob banks to take it away. All corrupt practices have money undertone. People kidnap others to collect some of ransom. Some companies like cigarette companies are busy selling ‘death-by-installment’ products just to get it without any recourse to how beneficial or useful their products to individuals or users. Ask yourself, what do corrupt politicians usually steal or take away from their fellow citizens and the populace if not – their collective hard earned currency?

Drug dealers are hustling in the streets, selling dope, killing themselves and others with their deadly products because of it. Prostitutes are in the ‘game’ for it! Ritual killings are done for it. Injustice, bribery and corruption, fraud, scams, exam malpractices and forgeries are now on the rise because of the seemingly big money there.

Religion is not left out as hard core businessmen are now masquerading as pastors and men of God prophesying “whatever” they tell you the Lord sent them to say which most times comes down to the “message” that the Lord loves a cheerful giver!

I don’t want to subscribe to the notion that it is the root of all evil rather I will prefer to say that it is the LACK of money that is the root of most evil because when you seriously lack it, that is usually the best time when the gates of hell open up to introduce to all forms evil!

Money as nothing but those virtual numbers you have in your bank account

This may sound a little bit awkward but it is true. Your money is represented by those numbers you have in your bank account which you can see on the computer screen at your bank.

When those numbers go up, you are said to have made more of it and when they go down, you are in trouble as your heart starts to beat!

Sadly enough, your whole life… OK, no, someone’s whole life, could heavily depend on such upward and downward movement of those tiny numbers and that’s very crazy!

Money as the biggest motivating factor on earth!

Indeed! Money is the biggest motivating factor in our world today! That is why many people believe that it is the only universal language that many people all over the world understand without much ado or explanation.

Things people can do for it!

According to that rapper, The Game, “If doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense!” . 50 Cent lent his voice on this issue by taking it to the extremes when he said “Get rich or die tryin’”

You get the idea?

Just say what you want to say in money terms and heads will surely start to nod in total agreement or assent.

So it’s left for you. What do you want to do?

Do you want to motivate someone right now? Remember Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) and Rod Tidwell? Ok, Show Me the Money!

Do you want things to be done so well? Ok, thrown in some it and these people might just surprise you with their efficiency, effectiveness as well as ingenuity.

Ok, do you want to get many friends, especially many female friends? Just Get Rich today!

Money as your Time

In a way, I guess. We all have got a lot of money in this regard because time is the only resource that is given to everybody equally. Time, a very important though intangible resource which can also be saved and can also be invested!

We all have equal amount of time given to us everyday but what we do with our time i.e. our money is what makes all the difference.

Are you a perpetual time waster? Are you in a business where you just sell your time? Or do you use your time in doing something or anything productive at all or are you into the habit of waiting for someone to always do it for you?

Watch it; you might just be using up all your money…sorry, I mean to say your time.

Money as just that ordinary yet valuable piece of paper people hold and withdraw at the ATM…

This is the most understandable form which is very obvious to many people. Those wonderful and special pieces of papers!

But come to think of it, what is the difference between that pieces of paper with some artistic designs on it which you have in your hands, or wallet, or pocket right now which you normally withdraw at the ATM and any other piece of paper for example that tissue paper lying around you right now?


Nothing really?

Did I hear you correctly? Of course, the answer lies in the value attached to it.

Actually there is no difference except that one deserves and attracts so much attention and care while the other is only good for wiping away dirt and rubbish. One is destined to be kept or locked away in your bank vaults while the other one is only heading for the waste paper basket.

Don’t forget that both can get very dirty and both can be burnt to ashes!


So which one are we going to burn now? Sorry Mr. Tissue Paper, they all agreed you will be getting the fire treatment!

Money as the root cause of all your problems

Why do you think you wake up in the morning and go off to work even though you don’t like that particular work, the people you see there or even your boss? Of course, it is because of the money!

Some people develop hypertension because of their worries and obsession for it. Some people are head over heels in debts because of it.

To some other people, it is the only reason why they brag. It makes them feel on top of the world but it also buys them more enemies and haters as a terrible fallout of their arrogance.

Some are slaves today because of it. Some people have sold their conscience thereby loosing their ability and sense of justice to say when something is wrong or even criticize a wrongdoer and/or some wrongdoing because of the big money they stand to loose in the process!

These days’ people do marry for it relegating true love to the background. Some people are targets for kidnappers and armed robbers just because they happen to have this elusive though abstract thing while some people will not give it a second thought to migrate to other areas in search for greener pastures amidst the great trials and tribulations in between.

Some people can no longer sleep at night because they are thinking about money and how they will be able to feed the next day, how they will be able to pay their rents, mortgage and their children’s school fees while some other people are thinking of what will happen to all their cash when they die!

Because of the global financial crisis, companies now choose to downsize their work force so as to stay afloat and still in business of making more cash for the owners thus leaving those affected workers with nothing but quaking hearts full of fear!

If you really check it, you will find out that somehow when people think or worry, most times, most of their thoughts are centered, directed and guided by money thoughts.

To me, the world is upside down, wars are being fought, lives are being battered, shattered, wasted and destroyed, and it is all because of money.

And that’s a pity because people are now slave to this very money!

But then, after all said and done…

Money as what makes the world go round

Oh yes! I love this very definition! Because take it or leave it, you are dead without money in this world…absolutely dead, in fact!

Or what do you think?


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      John Wakeman 

      6 years ago

      Money is not the root of all evil. The love of money is the root of all evil. That is, the deification of money is evil. Equating money with success and happiness is the worst form of intellectual laziness. Leisure is not something to be sought. Money is not the value of people or things - those values are purely socially constructed abstractions. Is a CEO's work really millions of times more valuable than a construction worker's, or a doctor's?


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