What is the meaning of money? To start with, money is just a useful tool. It makes the storing of and transportation of and the trading of created value easier and more efficient. After all, it is difficult to store a thousand gallons of ice cream for years, impossible to take your office building on a plane with you, and tough to get change for your boat when you want to trade for a loaf of bread. Money solves all these problems.
But when we talk about the deeper meaning of money, we canít really get away from the personal aspects. It is about what it means to you. For some it is simply seen as a way to get all the "goodies" in life that a person might want. Make more money and you get more toys, more homes, more cars, and so on.
Some people actually seem to worship money for its own sake, as a kind of representation of success or power or possibilities. These people typically hoard money rather than spend it. They might invest it, but not because they care for the things that the investment creates. In other words, they donít necessarily want to invest it to build homes or create new medicines or educational opportunities. They may invest in enterprises that do these things, but the point for those who bow to the god called money is simply to make more of it.
Then there are those that simply see money as a tool of personal security. If you accumulate enough of it and invest it carefully, you can generally count on never being hungry, homeless or without medical care. Money means safety and predictability for these people.
Then there are those for whom the meaning of money is freedom. The more you have, the more free you are to do whatever you would like - if you use it wisely. If you want to travel, more income can buy the tickets and the time off work. If you want to write that novel, enough wealth will allow you to quit your job or sell your business. If you want to teach the world about the evils of money, money will buy you the means to do it. Money equals options.
This is true even in the realm of political freedoms. With enough in the bank you can find a way to live wherever the laws most closely match the freedoms you desire. And if you are ever facing a loss of freedom in a criminal trial - it will help buy the best lawyers.
For most of us, money has several of the meanings given here. We feel a bit more free when we have it, a bit safer, and we like the things we decorate our homes and lives with due to our bank accounts. We even sometimes get hypnotized by money, forgetting what we wanted it for and chasing after it beyond its true usefulness to us. This is when we say things like "I wish I had more time for my kids or to write that novel," while forgetting that the money we are making would buy time if used properly.
Money is certainly not evil, nor the root of evil, as some claim. In fact, the biblical passage refers to "the love of money" as the problem, not the money itself. And if you want to be more spiritual, money can help with that desire as well - as long as you remember to use it for that purpose.
Interestingly, though it is the one of the most powerful and pervasive parts of all of our lives, most people avoid thinking about the deeper meaning of money. Thatís a shame, because like any powerful tool, money can make matters worse as easily as making them better. Give it some thought.