Remember how when we were young, our parents would love to say things like, "Money doesn't grow on trees" to tell us off when we pester them to buy something. Now that I am a parent myself, I take great pains to stop myself from saying such things, especially in front of my kids.
Before I started on my journey to pursue financial freedom, I used to live in a "scarcity" mentality, believing that money was hard to come by, that opportunities are few and far, and that everyone is competing for limited resources. After all, I grew up seeing adults slog long hours earning little pay, food had to be shared carefully among children and every New Year brings anxiety because I wasn't sure if we could afford the new things needed for the school year.
As I grew up and read more, I realised how limiting the "scarcity" view was. Just an example: the world produces more than enough food for everyone on this planet. World hunger comes about not because of scarcity, but because of uneven distribution of resources.
I began to completely avoid phrases which belie this old school "scarcity" mentality and embraced the belief that there is more than enough for everyone, as long as you work hard and look for it. This is a quick run-down of the top 5 phrases that I would always avoid:
1. "Money doesn't grow on trees."
We've all probably heard this before. "Money doesn't grow on trees" is often used to brush aside requests for money, implying money doesn't come by easily. But personally, I think it's misleading, especially to young minds. What I would want to say is, that even if money is available, we have to choose what we spend it on with care.
2. "You think I print money, is it?"
Very similar to the above, just a little more direct.
3. "It's a dog-eat-dog world."
A common phrase to remind one to look only after our own self-interests. But as many successful people will tell you, success only follows if you can bring benefit to others first.
4. "Life's short. Why save when you can't bring your money to your grave?"
I find this quite annoying. If anything at all, our average life expectancy is on an upward trend. What makes the person think I will not live to the Singaporean woman's average life expectancy of 85 years old? The only failure is not planning your finances for an aging body.
5. "I will be happy if I have $X."
An interesting research recently found that yes, richer people in general are happier than those of lower income. But how does one explain that Bhutan has the happiest citizens in Asia even though their GDP pales in comparison to the rest?
The link between happiness and money is probably over-rated by many people. It is just one of many factors that contributes to one's overall sense of well-being. Other factors e.g. family, health, and a sense of being useful to society, all have a role to play. So, while we do have to learn how to manage our finances, don't for a moment believe money can solve all problems for you. Always work at it in tandem with your other sources of happiness.