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?
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