Money myths are as old as the hills.
When I was a boy, my favorite hangout spot were newspaper stands.
Newspaper stands are places where curious minds gather to read newspapers free of charge.
And discuss global and local events in the papers.
There was a man who came there to free-read every day. Just like me and many others.
From my chats with him, I knew he was intelligent and well-read.
But he looked tattered and hungry. Every. Single. Day.
This puzzled me. How can a learned man be so hungry and tattered?
Then one day the reason became clear to me.
During a heated debate on how to make money, the man said…
“You think making money in Africa is easy. It’s not…”
“Most people who have lots of money are ritualists. Or political and internet thieves. Or even drug barons…”
While I knew how hard it is to make money, I also knew lots of people who made money.
Without dabbling in rituals, theft or drug pushing…
This man I talk about is not alone. There are many like him in every country on the African continent.
These people not only share myths of people with money being ritualists, thieves and drug barons.
They share other dangerous myths, too. Myths that keep most Africans broke…
1) Money Makes You Mean
This is far from the truth. Money doesn’t change people; it only makes their masks fall off.
If a broke person with a repressed mean attitude comes upon some money, this part of the person breaks loose.
People are mean with or without money. A broke jerk always turns into a rich jerk.
2) Money Is The Only Way To Build A Network
There are many who believe that once you have money, you can connect with any person at any level.
This is so not true.
Let me tell you a story.
When I was growing up, I had access to a wealthy man in my hometown.
The man was wealthy, but he didn’t have any formal education.
He couldn’t read letters, spell his own name, or write bank cheques. When I visited him, I’d help him out with these tasks.
One evening, he told me he was unhappy and unfulfilled despite his wealth.
Source of unhappiness?
With all his money, he couldn’t play at the level a professor in our hometown was playing.
The professor had the ears of top shots in both the State and the Federal Government.
Even the international community respected his opinions.
The man had no influence like that. Despite several tries, he couldn’t break into the professor’s network.
His lack of formal education always gave him away.
People in our hometown only respected him for the money he gave them, not for the content of his mind.
So the praise singers was the only network had.
He wanted more. Only he didn’t have what it takes to break in.
This story proves one clear point.
You can have all the money in the world and fail to connect with people you care about.
3) Money Can’t Be Made Through Debt
There is a sense in which the age-old aphorism is true. “He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing.”
But for the most part, this is a myth.
Growing wealth through debt is possible. Just that it requires top-notch financial discipline.
Part of the reason people fail at building wealth through debt is financial recklessness.
You get a loan for a business; then you use it to finance your lifestyle – buy a new car, pay rents and get married.
Why won’t you call debts the gift of the Devil?
4) More Money Brings More Worries
Poor people think about money all the time. Rich people think about happiness most of the time.
A broke man has no business thinking about what happiness means. To him, happiness means survival. Nothing more.
Take the World Happiness Index.
Countries in the bottom 5 are those with lots of poor people, whereas countries in the top 5 are those with lots of well-off people.
More poverty brings more worries.
More money brings more freedom to do what you want, when you want, and how you want. Having more worries, when you have financial freedom, is a choice.
It is not a result of having much money.
5) Money Makes You A Target For Heinous Crimes
Again this is not true.
Fame and exhibitionism makes you a target. But not money.
The problem with some people is that they like to show off.
In the age of social media, this is the new normal.
You could learn all you need to know about some people from their social media feeds.
There are many people with money who aren’t famous. Nor show off. And they live amongst us without any qualms.
Don’t believe me? Try reading The Millionaire Next Door. You might realize your neighbor who lives simply is not as broke as you thought.