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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Problem with Wealth


I have always been an advocate of proper money management and financial planning. I’ve written hundreds of articles & blogs about it and have spoken in hundreds of seminars reminding people to manage their money properly and achieve financial freedom. In fact, sometimes I find myself like a ‘sirang-plaka’ because I say the same things over and over again. The financial education of many Filipinos though improving is still far from ideal and many of our brothers are misguided with regards to handling money.
But that’s not what I am writing about this time. While they are definitely a small minority in this nation, some have gone the opposite route when it comes to money and have amassed a sizable fortune in their lifetime. There are quite a number of people who have embraced money as if it is the answer to all their questions in life and that money is the end goal. Money being a source of true joy is wishful thinking as wealth is insatiable – many will not achieve satisfaction until they are consumed by the quest for wealth. My friend Jayson Lo often says that “the best financial principle is contentment” and I say amen!
Money is important, there is no denying that – in fact Zig Ziglar once said that “Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the ‘gotta have it’ scale.” Money is a tool that allows one to get the best in life and it is a powerful tool in being a blessing to others. In a TV appearance at ANC’s On The Money, I told Edric Mendoza (the host) that ‘money is just money’ – it’s what you do with money that really counts. While financial responsibility is definitely a given and we need to save and invest to secure our future, we need to be mindful that ‘money is just money’ and not the end goal. It is sad to see a lot of wealthy people who become so attached to their wealth that they are forgetting to be generous; the ability to be a blessing is a privilege that the Lord has bestowed upon us. I now realize that the ability to create wealth and wealth in itself is something that comes from the Lord himself and while I believe God wants to bless us, He also has a purpose for the wealth He allows us to have.
During a recent discussion at a small group with one of my mentors, Atty. Banjo Navarro – he cautioned us that money is a very powerful idol that can keep us away from establishing a real relationship with God. He said that it is very hard to call yourself a real believer of Christ if you have issues of parting with your wealth. A believer who religiously goes to church and even one who tithes can be so enamoured with his money that he can’t help others even if he was given an opportunity to do so – and totally forgetting the teachings of Jesus himself.
A good reminder to all of us can be found in the book of life (as always):
Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” – Luke 12:16-21, NLT
Like anything in life, it’s all about the balance. Don’t take money for granted but don’t make money your everything.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Luke 12:34, NIV
Randell Tiongson is an advocate of Life & Personal Finance. He is a Director of the Registered Financial Planner Institute (Phils.) and has over 20 years experience in the financial services industry. For speaking engagements, financial planning, training and consultancy, send an e-mail to randell@randelltiongson.com. To read his personal finance blogs, visit www.randelltiongson.com.

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