For the love of (not) money

November 11, 2014

On Halloween night I called my niece to see if she hit the mother lode on her candy route. After assuring me she really DID get close to 300 chocolate bars including Wunderbar, Twix and Kit Kat (salt in the wound why don’t you), she asked what I thought were some hard hitting questions for an 8 year old.

K: You work at home, right?

Me: Yes.

K: So what do you actually DO to make money?

Me: Explain executive recruiting in kid terms.

K: Who’s your boss?

Me: I don’t have one, I’m my boss.

K: So who pays you?

Me: The companies I work for. (explain with brands she knows). Wait. Does this kid need a loan?

K: Do you make a lot of money?

Me: Dear God where is this coming from? It all depends. I make more money than some people and less money than others, but overall yes, I guess I do make a decent amount of money.

K: Do you love money?

Me: What in the hell are they saying about me over there?  Well K, that is a good question. <pause> Do I love money? No, I’d have to say I do not love money. Money is a tool and it can be a dangerous thing. Do I like having money to take care of myself? Yes. Do I like being able to help others with money? Yes. But having money doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. It doesn’t make you a kind person or a generous person, or even someone who loves other people. In fact it might turn you into the opposite, so no I do not love money.

K: Hmm. Okay. That was a good answer.

Me: Why thank you, oh sage of the answers. Why? Do you love money?

K:. No. I was just wondering what you thought.


Baller questions, right? I thought they were insightful and well-timed considering my circumstances. If anything, I thought maybe she didn’t even realize WHY she was asking the questions; maybe those questions were just meant for me and she was the best deliverer of them, someone without an agenda.

That conversation rattled around in my brain for days afterward. Had I been completely honest with her? Somewhere inside me DO I love money? Is that why I got sick, to cleanse me of a love of money? Why were those questions thrown at me by the universe?

One day last week we were out riding bikes (yes!) and Chris told me to look back over my shoulder. When I did I saw B. Franklin barreling down the alley toward me, wailing at the top of his lungs. He was going so fast his little celery stick hind legs went sideways when he finally caught up. Honestly, it made me cry. My heart felt like it was going to burst.

All of the sudden I thought about what my niece had asked me, and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had told her the truth. I don’t love money; it can’t buy the things that are sustaining me. Even though my health isn’t the greatest and I don’t have a steady paycheck right now, I’m oddly satisfied. My needs are being met and I can still afford to do a fun thing here or there. Thankfully, that is enough.

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  • Reply Kristin November 12, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    With an aunt who tackles the tough stuff on the reg, I bet she’ll continue to dig deep! You don’t shy away from difficult convos and that’s such an admirable thing!

    • Reply This Free Bird November 20, 2014 at 3:40 am

      Oh gosh, thank you. I really mean it. She’s a thinker and it’s interesting (and a little scary) to hear the things she thinks about. It’s tough to be a kid today, I think.

  • Reply Marie a la Mode November 12, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Good answer(s) Carrie! Money can’t buy true happiness but it’s nice to have a roof over your head, clothes to wear, a warm place to sleep ; ) It’s also nice to get away once in awhile and recharge. Do I love money? No, but I love the freedom money brings.

    • Reply This Free Bird November 20, 2014 at 3:38 am

      I think that puts money in its proper place – as a tool and not a thing to be thought of/sought after as the source of happiness.

  • Reply Nadia November 12, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Lovely post.
    I feel genuine happiness when my IG feed has photos of you smiling, riding your bike. Glad you are feeling a bit better. xo

    • Reply This Free Bird November 20, 2014 at 3:37 am

      Thank you, Nadia. I’m just going bit by bit and trying to ride that bike as much as I can without burning out for two days afterward. Who ever would have thought?!

  • Reply nicole November 11, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    You handled this with grace Carrie! What a little smartie your nice is! I am sorry to hear your health isn’t good.

    • Reply This Free Bird November 12, 2014 at 3:39 am

      I sure hope so because she’ll rip me a new one the next time we talk if she decides otherwise. HAHA! And yes, not the best, but a lot better than I was about 6 or 7 weeks ago. I’m grateful to be alive.

  • Reply Closet Fashionista November 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    You are truly an inspiration. Whenever I read your blog it makes me think about what is really important.
    Unfortunately at this point in time I don’t think I could honestly say I don’t love money. But I think I’m getting better and not thinking about it as much. I know I am at my happiest when I’m just spending time with my family doing nothing, but I can’t help but get excited when I get a little extra cash from side work…so I can buy pretty new things or a vacation

    • Reply This Free Bird November 12, 2014 at 3:38 am

      There’s nothing wrong with enjoying hard earned money for a treat! I bet you’re closer than you think 🙂

  • Reply Lori November 11, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Nothing like an 8 yr old to ask the tough questions! I have the imagine of BF running towards you and I smiled – that is true love when you feel like your heart is going to burst. xo

    • Reply This Free Bird November 12, 2014 at 3:36 am

      BF is so awesome. He won’t go in the basket, but he wants to run alongside or behind and does not like being left behind. It’s heartbreaking. It would have been great to whip out a camera for the moment, but it’s even more special because it’s locked in my mind and my heart 🙂 xo

  • Reply Jen November 11, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Great post. How old is your niece? My son is 8 and it was about last year that he started asking questions about money. I think part of it comes when they become aware enough to realize that people go off to work and the main reason is to earn money, so it generates a lot of questions about why, how much do we need, etc. And at the same time, they start to become more aware of poor/middle/rich differences as well. We’ve had to talk about all that stuff.

    • Reply This Free Bird November 12, 2014 at 3:35 am

      She’s 8. It was such an odd conversation. One minute we’re talking 300 chocolate bars (my favorite part) next minute she’s going off about money? So strange.

  • Reply Claire November 11, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Such a good post. I’ve always thought this was such a tricky question, because while I’ve been tempted to buy the whole “money can’t buy happiness” argument over & over in my life, I often then realize that actually, a relaxing trip to the beach (bought with money) or a flight to visit my family or friends or honestly, even a new lipstick can actually mean happiness (however temporary). I know there’s a deeper philosophical meaning behind “money can’t buy happiness,” and obviously I don’t love money THAT much since I’m 90k in debt for my undergrad + master’s degrees and I’ve never worked outside a nonprofit, LOL. Given a choice between more meaningful things (spiritual fulfillment, family, friends) and luxuries, I’d obviously go with the former, but it’s a conundrum. This Christmas, my family is “adopting” a family in need instead of getting each other gifts, and I’ll tell you what, the fact that all of us can afford to do that (despite none of us being wealthy) definitely brings happiness. <3

    • Reply This Free Bird November 11, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      I think it’s a tough balance. We do need money for a getaway, even a small one, or a little pick-me-up here and there. I couldn’t have gone to Big Sur without money and it definitely helped to get me over some tough hurdles. But at the same time I know that it’s not the source of happiness. It’s a means to an end and, if not kept in check, can wreck. *rhymes*

      I think it’s awesome what you’re doing with your family this year. Last year when I started purging I realized I didn’t want anything for Christmas so my brother and his wife and I didn’t exchange gifts, and my parents gave me something meaningful and small. It was one of the least stressful holiday seasons (in that regard) ever! You guys are doing something even better!! It feels great to help other people :):)

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