By Source, Fair use, wikipedia
The song Mo Money Mo Problems written by The Notorious B.I.G. was posthumously released in 1997 and covers a lot of ground with its lyrics. The song opens with the line “Now, who’s hot, who not?” and sets the tone for the story, which describes the struggles for acceptance and recognition in the pursuit of success, jealousy from others, and bragging rights. He neatly wraps this up in the refrain
“I don’t know what they want from me
It’s like the more money we come across
The more problems we see”
The money angle here is that creating financial security is a struggle requiring the commitment to goals, the ability to say no, and dealing with emotions. I recently met with a friend who had lunch with a friend of his (I’ll call them John & Jim). John’s friend Jim said he was looking at buying a new car because the one he had was four years old, but that he was struggling with the financing and concerned about the $453 monthly payments. Jim said they could afford it, but things would be tight for a while. It just so happened that John and his wife were also looking for a new car.
The discussion covered cars being considered, interest rates, and the use of a home equity loan. Jim wanted a BMW 330, which run about $40,000 stripped down. John said he really liked BMWs and looked at them as well but was going to get a Chevy Malibu, which run about $22,000 stripped down. In reply to Jim pushing him to get a BMW, John said that, even though they could afford a BMW, for large purchases like this they shoot for reduced expenses because new cars only decrease in value. By relying on only one income to cover the expense they can save more and reduce their risk exposure to emergencies.
Jim’s reply was, “I hate you”. Jim doesn’t really hate John, they’ve been friends for twenty years, and John wasn’t bragging about being able to rely on one income for this expense. However, Jim is dealing with the emotional struggle of desire versus delay. Should he stretch his budget and buy a BMW or delay that desire for something his future self will want or need? Is he seeking approval and recognition of his success from others? I don’t know, but my money is on John having a more secure financial future. He told me he’s thinking of holding on to their 14-year old car and delaying purchasing a new one. “It still has a few more good years to it.”
Unlike The Notorious B.I.G.’s lyric about having phones tapped, I’m sure I won’t have to worry about the DEA. Maybe someday I’ll be able to answer the question that money can’t buy happiness. Until then I’ll struggle with creating a more secure financial future.
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