“How much is a juice?” I asked.
“Ten dollars,” she said.
“How much is the deposit?” I went on.
“Two dollars,” she replied, already irritated with my inquiry.
I gawked awkwardly back at her as I tried to get my brain to wrap itself around what she was saying.
I had returned two bottles ($2 deposit each) and purchased two more juices ($10 each).
Here’s what that meant in my mind.
$10 per juice x 2 juices = $20
$2 per returned bottle deposit x 2 bottles = $4
$20 - $4 = $16
She had charged me $20. Clearly there was some sort of mistake.
She insisted there was not.
After pressing her several more times (and after she replied in the same damn way each time - a teacher she was not), I finally figured it out for my own damn self where the misunderstanding had occurred.
Here’s the deal.
The actual liquid juice in the bottle is $10.
The deposit for the bottle (which is refunded to me if I bring it back) is $2.
So here’s what it was in her mind (and to be fair to her, how the company markets its product).
$10 per juice + $2 per bottle deposit = $12 per bottled juice
$12 x 2 bottled juices = $24
$2 per returned bottle deposit x 2 = $4
$24 = $4 = $20
(Don’t worry, I promise I won’t make you do any more math.)
They say the juice is $10 and the deposit is $2.
But I can’t buy a freaking juice without a freaking bottle.
So the TRUTH is that a juice is NOT $10…
It is $12…
With the opportunity to earn back $2 if I return the bottle with my next purchase.
(Insert heavy sigh of exasperation and mild rage at The Way Money Works).
I am not an economist or an accountant or even a very good bookkeeper.
But what I am is a Truth Seeker.
And the more I learn about The Way Money Works, the more I realize it makes absolutely no damn sense.
In fact, most of the principles of money are based on illusions, lies, secrets, scams, tricks, and itty bitty fine print that people in charge of The Way Money Works write on itty bitty pages to make money work to their advantage.
I might sound a little cynical, but bear with me for a sec…
We say that we own a home.
In truth, unless you pay for your house full-priced, you have a mortgage. This means that a bank owns your home.
You are technically renting with the option to sell your lease to someone else in a way that could potentially give you some extra cash. (Unless the market sucks, of course - in this case, you lose money on your lease).
We talk about lenders as those who lend money to others.
In truth, the people who lend money actually sell money.
The money they give to others comes at a cost to the person receiving it. The person on the receiving end will actually pay for that money in the form of interest.
On the surface, my concern seems like semantics.
But it’s waaaaay more than that.
You see, language creates reality.
How we say something determines how we see something which - in this case - determines how we spend something.
For example, getting instant gratification in the form of a credit line, student loan, or car lease seems shiny and fun and exciting until you get slapped with the truth, which is that the money you received in the past - in most cases - will end up costing way more than it’s worth.
But, you know, anyone with a college degree in their thirties knows how natural and normal and “good” we were told it would be to sign those promissory notes for school loans… signing away our lives at the age of 18.
We millennials didn’t choose the economy we live in today.
I’m bitter ‘bout it. #predatorylending
Or - in a more optimistic spin - if you understand that owning a home is just an agreement with the bank, you can actually learn how to use other people’s money to make more money by buying and selling homes that you never spend a penny on.
There are winners, and there are losers - but the catch is that the whole damn game is rigged.
This is because most of us - the middle class - are taught “truths” about money that are downright lies.
For instance, did you know that the most costly way to make money is through wages?
Getting a paycheck comes with the highest rates for taxation.
Holding assets - among other ways of gaining wealth - comes with one of the lowest rates for taxation.
In this way, getting a paycheck is the most expensive way you can make money because the government charges you for making it.
They do not charge the wealthy as much for making wealth that isn’t wages.
The problem, of course, with this paradigm is that the people who are creating wealth with wages are the ones who need to hold onto their wealth the most.
But they’re also the ones paying the highest price.
(Insert here the same awkward gawk I gave the juice lady).
And this paradigm of punishing the poor plays out in every arena.
As an illustration, the housing market in my neck of the woods is booming. An unfortunate side effect is that rates for rent are also booming, making living here quite hard.
Evictions are at an all time high, and my heart breaks every time I watch one of my neighbors being forced from their homes.
And the cherry on top of this crap sundae is that they’re punished for it too.
If I were to get to the end of my lease with a perfect payment history, nothing would follow me except a boost in my credit score and a glowing residential reference.
But when someone gets evicted, they are slammed with charges to clean, repaint, and recarpet the unit.
On top of an already devastating economic eviction experience, they’re forced to fork over even more money they do not have.
We punish the poor.
We reinforce the rich.
This idea may not be new to you. After all, I’ve heard about it all my life.
I’ve always known our country catered to those with wealthy wallets, but what I didn’t understand was how The Way Money Works is actually what’s to blame.
As I go deeper with money behind the scenes, I’m both enraged and relieved.
I’m enraged because money is a primary force of oppression.
But I’m also admittedly relieved to know that I’m not crazy.
I thought I didn’t understand money because my potential for a mathematical mind was destroyed by the boy who bullied me and the male math teacher who all-but-molested his students.
I thought I didn’t understand money because I wasn’t interested, because it was something someone else was supposed to take care of.
But it turns out, I don’t understand money because it makes no cents.
(Seriously though, in the current economy there are literally no cents to be had: a national coin shortage - metal money doesn’t mean much anymore - it’s all about numbers now.)
In my mind, you can’t sell a $10 juice without the $2 bottle.
So the damn delicious juice that I’ll keep buying despite all this confusion costs $12.
For most of my life, it has been my misunderstanding of money that’s made me hate it and think of it as corrupt, confusing, and callous.
Money has always been something to covet and constrain, so it’s never been something that made sense alongside my big, bold magic.
But that’s not how money works.
Like all the books say, money works well when it’s left to move and flow - to come and go.
Just like my magic.
Money is a game, and if I know the rules, I can do very well for myself.
Just like I’ve done with my multidimensional model.
And if I can do very well for myself, then I can avoid burning out and work very well for the world.
Just like I get to do every day in many ways.
It’s not money’s fault men have muddled its meaning, and it’s not my fault I wasn’t given a manual.
But it is my responsibility to heal my relationship with it.
After all, money is just an extension of being human - a sound creating sensation creating substance.
And the formula is pretty simple: lots of self-worth = lots of wealth.
You don’t see Bill Gates struggling with his self-esteem do you?
People who make money - the big kind, the intergenerational wealth kind, the “I’m gonna go out there and kick ass today” kind- have strong senses of self-worth.
The sound of self-worth creates the substance of sustainable wealth.
I recently checked in on my first dimension, and let me tell you, I did not hear wealthy talk.
Instead, I heard alotta this:
Not good enough.
Not young enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not thin enough.
Not exercising enough.
Not working hard enough.
Not doing enough.
I mean, that sounds cliche, right? But here’s the tricky thing. Those sounds don’t show up in those words on a daily basis, so my lack of self-worth is not easy to see.
Instead, it shows up as grading one more paper instead of getting up to pee…
As pushing myself to work out after only two hours of sleep…
As buying wrinkle cream…
As obsessively cleaning my apartment every time I have company…
Devaluation of myself doesn’t show up in easy-to-see scripts.
It shows up as insidious little day-to-day things that “normal, functioning” people are supposed to do.
With all those sounds of scarcity, it’s no wonder my gravity is attracting so much lack.
It’s not enough to simply change these sounds; the sensations in my body need to change so that it attracts new substance. And sensations can be changed through stories.
(I unpack this concept in my Moon Magic video).
So I’m gonna change my story.
I am enough has never worked for me, so I’m trying something new.
My new story is: That’s enough.
That’s enough grading…
That’s enough movement…
That’s enough time in front of the mirror…
That’s enough obsessing…
In the modern day mentality of More, More, More, That’s Enough feels like a little revolution - one that might just buffer me against our culture’s practice of punishment that keeps me feeling poor.
If you try it out, let me know. I can’t be the only one who thinks money is crazy.
Thank you for sharing your precious time and energy with me and my note.
May you be happy, healthy, wealthy, and free.