Knowledge & Competency around Money/Time/Value
I’ve spoken with many folks about finances, not as a financial advisor, but as someone who is genuinely curious as to how people make things work for themselves. When Mrugakshee (my wife) and I were travelling in 2021/2022, anywhere we went, Mruga would say…
“I wonder what these people do to survive”
Valid curiosity. Everyone has to do something. Everyone has to eat, and you can’t eat money.
Fast forward to when we were spending time in India with Mrugakshee’s parents. My mother in law Meghana and I were having a discussion about economics, and she made a remark.
“I don’t know much about money and finance”.
Meanwhile, I am sitting in their air conditioned condo, in a decent part of town, eating magnificent food. I thought to myself, “by your own account, you may not have financial literacy, but everything around me in your life tells me that have deep time and value literacy”. The material difference between having “financial” literacy and having “value/time” literacy may not be all that much.
This collection of experiences inspired me to think more broadly about financial literacy.
What is Value Literacy?
I think people condition themselves to think that they are financially illiterate if they don’t understand money, when in reality, they may have a concrete grasp on value. Some of my friends say “I don’t care about money”, and evidently, these friends don’t have much money. But I don’t see them as poor, nor do I see them as financially illiterate. They demonstrate their grasp on value far better than some of my more financially well-off friends.
One friend in particular spends money like it’s going out of style, but he spends it on quality goods and experiences, that enrich his life. He’s prioritizing the quality of his life experience over having money. Some may say that is fiscally irresponsible, but I say that his value-compass is simply pointed elsewhere.
Value literacy is about refining the following two questions in your life.
What should I value?
Why should I value that or other things?
The pertinence of these questions is revealed when you release that what you value, is what you aim at. If you answer those questions about value on a 1, 2, 5, 10 year basis, then on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, you will probably have clearer long term and short term goals in front of you.
Anecdotally speaking and financial literacy aside, deciding what to value is the sort of thing that led my mother in law to obtain her successes.
To me, there is a clear intersection between financial literacy and value/time literacy. If you are disciplined about how you spend your time, then there is a certain amount of value that will naturally accrue to you. Value will accrue to you either through the accumulation of money (building net-worth), or valuable experiences that enrich your life (building self-worth), or both.
Where are you Aiming?
If you find yourself stagnating and not actively increasing your self or net worth, then this may be an indication to you that you’re not aiming at the right goals. This is of course predicated on the belief that if you are aiming at the right thing and are making a best-faith effort towards attaining those goals, then the universe conspires to help you attain those goals. That might be a little “airy-fairy” for some of you, but in essence, it just translates to “if you work hard and discipline yourself, there is no reason you won’t eventually reach your goals”.
Taking this back to the conversation that I had with my mother in law, this is the exact formula she followed for her entire life. An in depth conversation about the stock market, investing, mutual funds, derivatives, and the like would all be beyond her knowledge. However, she knows exactly how to spend and invest her time. She knows exactly how to set, select, and work towards goals. She has a strong moral and ethical compass which helps inform her on what to value which in turn, informs her on which goals to pursue.
Which Goals do I Pursue?
The answer to this question comes from asking a second question. What do I value?
You’ll need to decide what you value in order to figure out which goal to aim at. Write down a simple list of things you value. My list looks something like this, in order from most important to least important.
Each section can be subdivided into other categories.
Time with Family
Time spent doing something I enjoy (music, exercise, being outdoors)
Time with friends and developing relationships
I don’t think this list needs to be any more complicated. From my point of view, everything else is extraneous to my main “focus” of the day, week, or month. From this set of items, I can more or less build an ideal day and strive towards meeting goals that satisfy this list of things that I value.
Lastly, I want to mention an insight or conclusion that I’ve reached in my life, that has helped me through some tough times. That is, simply by virtue of existing, you have value. This is the idea of intrinsic value. You don’t have to have a fancy job, or a bunch of money in your bank account, or a nice car to have high net worth or self worth. Simply by being here, you have a baseline level of self-worth and inherent value that no one can take away from you.
This is the foundation of my value system. It says to me, that no matter what I, and those around me, are valuable. There is no such thing as you being “worthless”. You’ve simply tricked yourself, or allowed society to trick you into thinking that you have no value. You do. Creating, nurturing, and emboldening a sense of self-worth is the first step in creating conditions in your life where wealth of all kinds, monetary or otherwise can be attracted to you.
I didn’t talk much about bitcoin in this letter today, but thats because I find the philosophical conversation about value adjacently important to the discussion on bitcoin. Teaching that bitcoin is the purest physical form of value is sort of a moot point in the absence of concrete ways of thinking about the metaphysical concept of value itself.
Bitcoin is just a tool, and if we forget to connect money to morality, then bitcoin has just as much potential to be used for nefarious purposes as the rest of the fiat currencies in the world.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this letter, it was a bit of a step away from my regular programming. Pleasure to have you aboard. Like, subscribe, share, and/or comment.