Follow the Money

We’ve all watched and enjoyed mysteries, and one of the tried-and-true adages of a mystery is: Follow the Money.  In the case of a mystery it has to do with motive.  But where else does Follow the Money ring true?

Actually, Follow The Money applies almost anywhere.  In most instances, money is reflective, not causative.  It points to the issues and problems.  It marks and reports them.  It doesn’t create them.

Wait, what?!  Money doesn’t create problems?  No, it doesn’t.  What we choose to do or not do with money creates the problems, not the actual money itself.  Money doesn’t have free will or volition.  It goes where you tell it to.  It gets used and spent and earned and saved strictly by the actions of people.

All money can really do is tell you what happened.

And it does a really good job of that.  And it certainly does it in more circumstances than we tend to initially realize.  Let’s look at where money talks and tells.

Business:  This one is pretty obvious.  Looking at a company’s financial statements tells you what’s going on in the company.  The way I look at those statements goes deeper than just the sales and expenses though.

For me, the money in a company tells me where the people issues are.  If all the employees in one department are complaining about not being paid enough, that tells me something.  It tells me something is going on in that department that needs to be addressed.  The money is reflective.  If people aren’t paying the company on time, that says something too; it may be about the invoices going out too late, about the product not being right, or about a lax follow-up procedure.

The money can be talking about a lot of different things, but it is certainly reflecting information.

Personal: I also think money is reflective in our personal lives.  What does your money say about you?  Where do you spend it?  What kind of attention do you pay to it?  What is it reflecting?  If you really look at your money, you can learn a lot.

I once worked with someone who said they had money all over the house, tucked here and there.  They didn’t really know where it was.  They didn’t know how much they had.  That’s a reflection of this person’s money perspective.  The fact that the money is all over, and not “organized” is reflective of something.  Follow that money mystery and you’ll get somewhere interesting, somewhere important.

Sometimes following the personal money leads to some pretty predictable places.  The money might go toward a collection, it might go for a child’s education, it might go for a car.  It is most likely to reflect the person’s interests and passions.  It also will reflect the person’s money prejudices—those beliefs they fund without even knowing it.  It might go to buy everything “on sale” because that’s just what you are supposed to do.  Or it might buy jewelry because it makes you feel good.  Where ever it goes, there’s some meaning or symbolism behind it.

Remember, money isn’t about money—it’s about our sense of worth.  What we spend it on is reflective of how we see ourselves and our world.  It reflects our values, passions and dreams.

I think we can learn a lot about people by looking at different aspects of their lives.  Think about it: Look in someone’s refrigerator, what does it tell you?  Lots of weird sauces, or is there just a six pack and a cold pizza?  Reflective, right?  Money is the same way.  So, spend some time noticing what your money is telling you.  Where do you spend it?  What do you do with it?  Where do you keep it? How do those actions sometimes reflect things you hadn’t realized before?  You can learn a lot. Just follow the money.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Want to chat about what your money might be trying to tell you? Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

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