Humanity's relationship with money is unusual. Money itself is virtually worthless. Most modern currencies are nothing more than ink and paper. In reality, the only value that money has lies in what we can accomplish with it. Consider the following examples:
1. The car in the driveway is of little intrinsic value, especially since it will eventually end up worthless in the junk yard. However, when you drive it back and forth to work, it plays a key part in providing for your family. When you use it to transport family members to and from school and recreational activities, then it plays a part in developing the family's overall mental and physical health. In reality, a car is nothing more than a means of getting from one point to another. By these measures, a 1998 Dodge Caravan may be just as valuable as a 2013 Lexus LX.
2. A small home on a quiet street where children can safely play outside with their neighbors may provide exactly the same — or better — utility and functionality as a home twice as big set well away from the rest of the world.
3. Having the time to volunteer as the coach for the soccer team or as the Cub Scout Den Mother may be infinitely more valuable to your children and your community than how much money you have in the bank.
4. Teaching your children by example to donate time and money to worthy causes may have a far greater impact on society than teaching your children how to “get ahead” in the world. Children should know that money is not an end in and of itself, it's only a
means to an end.
5. Making dinner for a neighbor after they've had surgery doesn’t take much money; it just requires being connected to your community.
6. You don’t have to be
Bill Gates to have an impact on the world, but if you measure your wealth with lots (and lots) of digits, you have a huge opportunity to make the world a much better place. (Bill Gates has pledged to donate 95 percent of his wealth and has already given away billions of dollars.)
7. There are almost 1 billion
hungry people in the world. You can’t feed all of them alone, but if every working family in the world fed just one, there would be no hungry people left to feed.
You can choose your legacy, the mark you leave on the world. You can define the person you are and how you are remembered. You can help your spouse and children to become who they most want to be. Remember, money is only worth the good that you do with it. What will be the legacy you leave for your family?
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.