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Coming up is the first article in our Money Matters series. The intention is to share our views as we look at the world of finance and how we believe it affects the everyday lives of ordinary people. I realise it all sounds pretty boring and something most of us don’t need to know. Despite this, please indulge us for a while longer.

First off, we aren’t financial geniuses, consultants, brokers, or anything like that. We’re just average folk trying to live a comfortable, uncomplicated life while keeping our heads above water. So far, we’ve managed that, mainly by watching what happens around us and taking up any available options likely to improve our situation.

This is what we’d like to do for you – help you achieve a better, happier lifestyle. Whether you have little or no money and need more, or you have enough and are afraid of losing it, a bit of friendly advice can’t hurt, surely? What we are about to offer is free, except for (always a catch, isn’t there?) whatever it costs you to read, download and print the words you now see on screen. We’ve even tried to minimise that by the way we’ve set up the Website.

In an attempt to present articles that are easily understandable, subjects dealt with have been simplified. But we haven’t trivialised them, just trimmed away the confusing excess to concentrate on those aspects that we all have some control over.

We’ll be featuring personal budgeting with an emphasis on seeking out and making changes that can help spin the money round a bit further. Credit and credit cards will be looked at, along with ways to make them less of a burden. One subject which will keep popping up is investment. Even if you think this doesn’t matter to you, maybe because you have no spare cash to waste on grand schemes, you actually invest in many areas already – your house or apartment and what makes them a home, the car, clothes; even, and especially, your body and mind.

All too hard to think about? That’s why we’re here and talking to you now. So if you can spare a little of your time to have a read, we hope there’ll be something of use to you in the following article. Further issues will appear regularly throughout the year and we invite you to drop by as often as you wish. Every day is a bonus in A Season Of Happiness.

The Meaning of Money

Once upon a time, the essentials of life were the basic elements of air, fire, water and earth. Now, it would seem, money can buy all of these, plus anything and everything else. Consequently, it has become both saviour and destroyer; and, in between, the motivating factor for the majority of the human race. The old saying claims money to be the root of all evil. Whether it is, or not, there is little doubt that, at some time in a person’s life, it will be the cause of regret, perhaps misery.

This is such a negative viewpoint that it would seem an inadvisable subject to discuss on a website claiming to be about happiness and positive thinking. The safest option would have been to avoid it altogether; but that wouldn’t make the problems it causes go away, or help in finding solutions to them.

We at A Season Of Happiness, would like to present some thoughts and ideas that will put the influence of money in its rightful place. To a greater or lesser degree, it affects us all. From simple savings to major investments, we need to make our money count, while avoiding the pitfalls of blind ignorance.

A horrible word, isn’t it? - insulting. Ignorance sounds like “dumb” or “stupid”. But it is neither of these. It simply means “not knowing”. Being ignorant should only ever be considered a temporary condition for which knowledge is the remedy. Take any situation, look into what makes it tick, and the result of handling it will be far more satisfying.

So, how do we get extra money? Isn’t this what most of us think? There never seems to be enough, and the only real chance of climbing out of the financial rut is by winning the lottery. Even if we did, there’s no guarantee it would make life better. Many who won the jackpot discovered the opposite. The plain fact is, most ordinary people can’t handle large amounts of money. And another sad truth follows – many aren’t much better with small sums either.

Put it down to the pressures of modern society. Although a major part of the day is devoted to earning a living, the monetary reward is often taken for granted and, as a consequence, receives far less respect than it deserves. There isn’t time to weigh the merits or advisability of purchases. If they are desired, they are acquired - there and then, in passing, as part of a deal or special offer, or for any number of reasons, from essential to impulse. Even personal choice can be taken out of the equation. Whether affordable, or not, the pressure to buy in order to impress and maintain standards is ever-present and frequently overwhelming in the form of advertising, peer pressure, fashion trends and so on. It is easier to cave in than resist the temptation and end up feeling deprived.

There is actually no secret to making money. It is simply a matter of paying out less than is coming in. Expenditure should be dictated by income. In a strictly cash situation, such is the case and there’s nothing to think about except 1 minus 2 doesn’t work. Unfortunately, the introduction of credit complicates the scenario. This passes the decision back to the individual who can buy now, pay later and, as so many discover, regret forever after.

More negatives again, unfortunately, but if they are regarded as timely warnings and obstacles to overcome, they provide great motivation for beating the odds. And they can be beaten.

Before any strategy to this end is even contemplated, the current state of affairs has to be reviewed applying brutal honesty. Reduced to a cash format, it will be easier to understand. Assuming the day of reckoning has arrived and everything that is owed must be paid on the spot, would it be possible? How much actual money is available, if not immediately, then sooner rather than later? This can mean everything from bank accounts and temporary loans to family and friends, down to the odd coins in the car’s ashtray. It should not include anything that has to be sold off.

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