Money Matters: How Pretty is Your Financial Picture?

Apparently my inner child is 70 years old.

One bright, sunny A.M. I found myself completely enthralled by an episode of CBS Sunday Morning. (I guess that tells you a lot about how exciting my Saturday night must’ve been.) In this episode they featured an artist, Mark Wagner, whose claim to fame is creating elaborate collages out of cold hard cash. You heard me – he carves up one dollar bills (US) and glues them into huge masterpieces that can be sold for tens of thousands of dollars.  (Here’s a great link with a few examples of his work.)  As I watched this, a few things occurred to me:

1. Considering that he probably only has to put a few hundred dollars worth of singles into each collage, he has a much better ROI than most financial vehicles. Take note Wall Street!

2. He’s not the only one that recreates money into new images. We all do it. Yes, that means you, too.

It’s hard to tell by most people’s actions, but money is really only bits of metal and paper made of fairly inexpensive raw materials. Its value is determined by all of us – our perceptions, mindsets, and values. Don’t believe me? Look at your retirement fund (if you don’t have one yet, get started already!) When passionate revolutionaries take over a square in Cairo or Russia annexes a part of the Ukraine, the value of your fund changes. When a prominent executive dies, the entire company can lose value in the stock market within hours, before there’s any real world effect on sales or operations. No one likes to admit it, but our entire financial system is grounded in belief and emotion.

This is great news for those of us committed to building our best lives! We can use this knowledge to create our own pictures of financial success, ones that align with our personal goals and values.

Which masterpiece best describes your view of money?

The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Scream courtesy of WebMuseum

The Scream courtesy of WebMuseum

Is money a constant worry in your life? Does it always feel like there’s never enough? Even when the account is full, are you secretly in fear that it will one day disappear?

BTW – if you are interested in learning more about this famous work or the artist, check out this page on Artsy.


American Gothic by Grant Wood

CC image American Gothic (Grant Wood) courtesy of uhuru1701 on Flickr

CC image American Gothic (Grant Wood) courtesy of uhuru1701 on Flickr

Are you focused on security? Risk adverse? Would you rather save for a rain day than blow a big chunk of money on a cool experience?


The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

CC image Salvador Dali - The Persistence of Memory courtesy of Tony Hisgett on Flickr

CC image Salvador Dali – The Persistence of Memory courtesy of Tony Hisgett on Flickr

Does money buy you time to do the things that you enjoy in life? If your basic expenses were covered (shelter, food, clothing, etc.), would it really matter how much you had in the bank?


The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

CC image Klimt courtesy of bm.iphone on Flickr

CC image Klimt courtesy of bm.iphone on Flickr

Is money the perfect way to measure your gold plated life? Does it help convey your status in the world, and more importantly in your social circle?

If one of these works of art speaks to you, then please use it. Otherwise I invite you to pull out the fingerpaints and start crafting your own picture of what money means and then LIVE ACCORDING TO THOSE VALUES:

  • If security is your thing, any extra money should be focused on reducing debt (ALL debt) so that you can follow your dreams with less worry.
  • Status seekers either need to pursue high paying work (not a bad choice) or get creative about other ways build and maintain your reputation. Do you think that status requires big dollars? My friend, you are thinking too small. Mother Theresa had plenty of status. Way too many musicians with shady contracts had all the trappings of fame but no real cash. Hell, the entourages of famous people have status and are mainly broke. Be strategic.
  • When money represents freedom, don’t waste away your time saving for one big event. Instead, find ways both big and little to enjoy the rich experiences that life has to offer. You’ll feel much more fulfilled every day.


Alright, grab your watercolors or glitter and get to work. What does money mean to you?


CC image Paintbrushes courtesy of John Morgan on Flickr


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