Money Can’t Buy Me Love…Or Can It?
Near the end of July I’ll be participating as one of nine keynote speakers at a conference called “Rethinking Stewardship” at Luther Seminary. I’ll be joining the likes of Chris Farrell (of Minnesota Public Radio and APM’s Marketplace Money) and Nathan Dungan (of Share, Save, Spend) to talk about new approaches to stewardship. Our understanding of stewardship is that it’s not simply asking people for money but helping them relate to money in light of their faith – something almost every Christian I know has stated as a desire. How, that is, does our faith in Christ inform our lives as economic as well as spiritual beings? How does our faith shape our spending and saving and what we teach our children about money and values?
It should be a great conference. The title of my presentation is, as described above, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love…or Can It?” What I want to explore is the absolute conundrum that while we all know – and are eager to say – that money can’t make us happy, few of us manage to act that way. Most of us, that is, shop and save (or don’t save) and spend as if having more money were the one secret to happiness.
And yet we know that’s not true.
And it’s not just us. More and more research supports the claim as well. As I mentioned when talking about Kathryn Schultz’s TEDTalk on regret, for instance, one of the things that struck me in her presentation was that very few of us name financial decisions as a chief cause of regret. We’re far more remorseful about missing opportunities than we are about what we do with our money.
Similarly, other research has proven conclusively – I’ll highlight this in more detail tomorrow – that beyond a certain minimum income (in the U.S. of about $75,000/yr.) additional income does not add to one’s basic sense of security or happiness.
So why, then, do we focus so much of our energy on making more money, even though we know – but perhaps don’t really believe? – that it won’t make us any happier?
I’m going to work out some of my thoughts on this question here over the next few weeks and then try to pull that together in a presentation for the conference. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue, your struggles with living what you believe, and your insights into connecting faith and finances. Thanks for your help!