Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z: Cash Flow





Do you work for yourself? For your children? For your grandchildren?

A German boyfriend once told me that the main difference between Mexicans and Germans was that the former work for themselves, while the latter work for their grandchildren. It took me a long time to understand what he meant.


In Mexico, people live for the moment. Yes, great philosophy--carpe diem, and all that. But here's the thing: people seldom build anything resembling a future. In a country where something like 20% of the population lives under the poverty line, where literacy is a dream for that same percentage (come on, it's the twenty-first century!), it seems kind of vital to me that people begin to work towards a goal that spans longer than their lives, that encompasses more than momentary satisfaction.

In Europe, on the other hand, people tend to focus on longer-term goals, and they're willing to commit to a career path, even if sometimes they dream of going crazy and--say, painting, or travel the world--for the sake of their children's education. They assign a higher value to income and security, and it trascends acquisition power.

These are generalizations of the most blatant kind, certainly. I know plenty of Mexicans--Latinos everywhere--that are monetary geniuses, that keep their children and grandchildren in mind, even before they exist, when making decisions. And I've met Europeans that don't.

But there is a cultural element that helps to reinforce behavior. If your culture supports easy spending, you're more likely to be careless with money. If your culture frowns on it, you're more likely to value money beyond what you can buy with it now, today. Your culture, the environment where you grew up, its input to your very self, cannot determine your attitude, but--does it influence it? How much?

What is your attitude towards money? Did you grow up with a five-, ten-, and twenty-year plan? Did you grow up poor, hoard every cent as soon as you started earning? Or did you splurge your first salary on a coveted item in some window display? What role does money play in your life?


Visit the other A to Z Bloggers!

26 comments :

  1. Cash flow is important to me--but not my husband. I try to save what I have for the future--but he needs it now. ;-)
    I grew up in Australia, good family, funds limited. He grew up in London during the blitz. Here today gone tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Francene--that's amazing. How do you make it work?

      Delete
  2. i'm Gujarati, and we're supposed to have a calculator for a brain and money as our middle name.
    I grew up with tremendous respect for money, and understanding that you can make money WORK for you, you're the boss. Depositing dividends in the bank was the earliest most important money lesson I've learned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mira, I so wish I'd grown up Gujarati :) I've never had any savings worth speaking of, any sort of "back-up" plan for anything... It's taken me almost half my life to learn these lessons you grew up with. You're my hero! Thanks for sharing this :)

      Delete
  3. I think trying to find the balance is important. I see too many people struggling in this economy when they should have been more fiscally responsible. I also see too many people live responsibly and have fate take away a spouse far too young. Had they known they only had to plan for one retirement, they would have lived differently along the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, isn't it? If only we'd known... But you're right--balance is key. We can't know what's going to happen, so living for today, with a bit of planning for the future, achieving that balance, is probably the best guarantee for happiness (and no regrets).

      Delete
  4. Very interesting topic! There are indeed big differences between cultures in treating money. I grew up in communist Romania, and learned to hoard every penny and think thrice before spending it. It's how I came to always have a buffer, and never borrow anything I could work for myself. I believe that the association a culture makes with money heavily influences the progress of that culture, though sometimes in the wrong way (~corruption bred by need).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vero, thanks for the visit and the input--Romania, wow! Congratulations on your healthy finances--wish I were more like you. Totally agree on the cultural progress part, and yes, unfortunately sometimes it goes the wrong way... But maybe it's also part of societal development, a step on the way to further growth?

      Delete
  5. I've retired and cah flow is even more important now. Working for yourself certainly concentrates the mind - no work, no money; it's a simple as that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true, Bob--back to basics :) I hope you're enjoying your entrepreneurship, though!

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (I don;t know why but the formatting was messed up with that comment. Here it is again. Did you happen to read the article about a languages without a strong future tense being less likely to make distant future plans for solvency.? I think it was in the NYT, but here is a study and the abstract kind of gives you an idea of what their hypothesis was. Also, it seems to me, that Latinos (generally speaking) are supporting extended families while European and North Americans are out for themselves. Interesting discussion, in any event. Nice post, Guiie.

      Here is the link: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d18a/d1820.pdf

      Delete
  7. Money is a means, not the end for me :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. My parents pulled themselves up, my mom immigrated here when she was 3 and my dad lived on a farm, and they instilled in me the need to spend wisely. I save a lot, spend only what I need to. I don't really have a future plan (except get published ^_~), but I can manage money. Managing time on the other had, is harder.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Having great gobs of money has never been a goal for me. (Not that I'd throw it away if it happened to fall into my lap, mind you.) My husband and I both grew up in blue-collar families, and both have always had a very pragmatic way of dealing with money. We never did without, but never cared about having the best, the newest, the most expensive, etc. After ten years of retirement, we're still living comfortably, thanks to how extremely well my husband planned, saved, and invested over the years. Not rich in cash, but certainly rich in family and all the things that matter.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Writers say, I write because I can not write. I say, I write because I need cash! Gotta get back to work...hoping my agent can make a quick sale once I get the edits to her on Crooked Lines.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We grew up simple, and with just enough to put food on the table and cater for the basic needs.
    My mother, the eldest of 14 children, had to start work at the tender age of 14-and-a-half to help support the rest. So hard work has always been part of my philosophy... it's the only way I know... and with hard work comes money. Although I didn't grow up with a five- ten- or twenty-year plan,I'm not afraid of good, old-fashioned hard work, to earn extra bucks for that rainy day!

    ReplyDelete
  12. We worked for our money, and always had enough for our needs, simple as they are. Contentment is much more valuable and important, but, hey, I'm human, money helps, and if i had more you wouldn't hear any complaints!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think those of us living in the U.S. have been really learning the last few years about how our attitudes affect our finances, in a sad and funny way.

    We were never poor growing up, although we didn't always have much money to spare. I developed to like always having something saved away in case of emergencies, and it's only been in the last few years that I've begun to let myself buy the occasional unneeded thing without too much guilt. But that saving part of me is still there, especially as expenses rise faster than my salary. Whenever I get some unexpected money, I spend only a portion and save the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  14. money is a good thing. i do think about the future... while knowing i struggle with the present.... plans do need to be made, while also living in the moment...
    SO, maybe mexicans and germans should marry.. maybe that'd be the perfect combo... :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is such an interesting topic. I went through a period in my 20s where I had no plan and didn't think at all about money, I ended up getting myself in debt and generally making a lot of dumb decisions. It took me a long time to work my way out of that, and now I am obsessed with planning and think twice about spending anything.

    My parents didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up and I was taught to save, but I didn't follow my German mother's advice! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I once had the opportunity to see a post-it note a dear friend of mine had stuck in the computer screen of her office: "work like you don't need the money" (ring any bells?).
    This, along with the firm belief that the less you need the more you have, helps me cope with my pathological lack of financial dexterity. Thank god I have someone who constantly reminds me of the importance of saving. But it is my constant struggle, my karma...
    GRAN post Guilie querida, me encanta tanto leerte.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I believe there is too much focus on material wealth. I have friends who constantly strive to have more and better. Two people living in a mansion is not my idea of happiness or sound environmental choices. I have yet to discover wealthy people completely satisfied with all the money they possess or value their relationships with family and friends above their wealth. I worked for Habitat for Humanity in El Salvador, helping a group build homes for the destitute. I thought that I would be overwhelmed with sadness and anger. Instead, I was amazed at how these people who had almost nothing were so happy and caring toward each other. There was a sense of community among the workers and within the town where I worked.
    Feather

    ReplyDelete
  18. An interesting post (and replies). I've always felt if I have a place to live, food to eat, and a library card, I'd be OK. Luckily my husband feels much the same way, just adding travel to the list. In every culture we've visited, I've seen great diversity of attitudes about money, perhaps more dependent on class. But in Mexico and other Latin countries, family is very important -- even to extending warm hospitality to strangers. I miss the friendly back-and-forth in the market. Here in the US, the malls are cold and commercial. One does not bargain.

    ReplyDelete
  19. My parents were big spenders. I'm way more thrifty and only, in the past few years, been able to make big purchases without spending a day in bed sick with worry.

    ReplyDelete
  20. being too cautious has a downside too-- missed the big Bombay real estate chance when it was staring at me in the face screaming "buy me!"...

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

This is the motivation I needed :-P

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!