I’ve mused a couple of times half jokingly that if I could just do without money I’d be happy (these musings were mostly when I was in debt).
Now my views have changed because I’m out of debt, and I’m really understanding on a deeper level how money affects our lives.
Money is a benchmark
After reading about the history of money here and there, money is really just a form of base bartering.
Money in and of itself is not important, it’s the social value we put upon money that is.
We as a society value these pieces of coloured paper because it is representative of values.
If we took money away, we’d find another benchmark — using shells, sticks, gold coins.
In the past, if you were a baker, you might trade 25 loaves of bread for 1 pig.
No one was really sure if it was a good deal, because how do you really measure the quantity or amount of bread for a value of a pig?
The only real value is in the market value — what people are willing to give up, or pay for it.
Now if you bring money as the benchmark into this picture, at market value people are willing to pay $1 for a loaf of bread, but for a pig, they’re willing to pay $50.
So you actually needed to trade 50 loaves of bread for 1 pig, not 25 as before.
Money is a way to save productivity
So why not go back to sticks or shells, or even a form of bartering? Because money allows us to save our extra productivity for future use.
In the past, people had two options: work until you die, or have a lot of kids to secure your future.
My grandparents had so many kids because they needed them to help take over for when they were too old and fatigued to work any longer (and some died young too).
Think about it, a baker wouldn’t be able to bake and save hundreds of loaves of bread for the future to trade. They’d go stale!
With money in play, you can bake bread, sell it, keep those pieces of paper representing your work product, and when you’re old and want to retire you can stop and live off those savings.
You don’t have to rely on your kids to pay for you because you’ve saved that productivity to be able to rest.
It also gives us the option NOT to have children, especially for those couples who cannot. They aren’t penalized for not being able to produce kids to take over for when they get too old to work.
This is also the core principle behind why we save in general – it’s so that we can stop working and live off those savings, instead of having to work until the day we die.
If we don’t save that productivity aside, we have to work until we die to make money to pay our bills and eat.
It’s as simple as that.
Life may be simpler without money, but it becomes harder in other ways
So even if we take away money, nothing changes.
We’d still have to work, but now we have the added burden of either having to have kids to secure our future or to figure out another way to stop working and rest before death.
You are still accountable for your actions — you still have to avoid debt, stay organized, get out of debt, save, be smart about your money, budget & track your spending.