"We don't talk about money," said someone at some point in history. "It's impolite."
I grew up with a strict don't ask, don't tell policy around money. I never knew what my parents had or didn't have. When my mother would sit at the table on Sundays balancing the checkbook, I'd try to ask questions... but it became clear that she was trying to shield me from the reality. "Money is a problem. Money is hard. Money is a secret. Money is not fun."
Now, I'm a grown man and I have yet to feel that sense of total control around my money. But I'm getting there. I spent my 20s completely broke, with no real understanding of how to make or manage money. Now I'm 31 and I've learned how to make some money doing what I love doing. I am almost out of all of my bad debt (last $1,000 to go). And there are some powerful horizons coming my way due to a lot of hard work building this business.
I started talking about money. With myself, with my friends, with my mentors... with my partner. I figured out that this idea of not talking about money hadn't gotten me anywhere. Maybe it was time to try something else.
I hired a business coach a few years ago for the first time. I've been in business mentorships and masterminds ever since. These open forums to talk about making money have helped me get past the limiting belief that money was only made by "taking" it. I thought money was for rich people and rich people were bad. Letting go of that judgment took some work, but now I see that I'm actually allowed to earn money by helping people, and that having money actually makes me feel good.
I still have a long way to go. I am still living an inconsistent bottom line with limited runway, but I'm more confident in my ability to create products that help people and generate income through good works.
The truth is: money does buy happiness. Money buys freedom, which is happiness to me. Money buys travel and experience, which is happiness to me. Money buys trips home to see my family, which is happiness to me. Money pays for my rent and utilities and bills that make me feel like a man in command of his castle, which is happiness to me.
Does money = happiness? No. I'm convinced that presence, purpose, and compassion = happiness. But when I can't take care of my basic needs, I have trouble with presence. When I can't buy the tools to help me succeed, I have trouble with my purpose. When I can't give money to the causes and the people who I care most deeply about, I have trouble with full compassion. Money is leverage for my happiness... and I'm done being silent about it.