THE MONEY BOOK
The money book offers a wealth of information and time-proven philosophy to make your life richer and happier. It provides ideas for making money, spending money and the meaning of money to our lives in general. It explores our relationship with money from a spiritual, emotional, intellectual and practical viewpoint and offers tips, suggestions and food for thought in all areas relating to managing our finances and perspectives for a rich life. (159 pages)
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Rich in Rumania
[Regarding the lifestyle of the people of Rumania] I learned how little in the way of material goods we really need, and how beautiful a simple life can be. In Rumania people work with their hands every day, and you'll see an 80-year-old woman still chopping wood because she's been looking after herself all her life, and she still has the strength to do it.
In December of 1989, I visited Rumania. People lived in such primitive and deprived conditions that I kept asking why they didn’t revolt. Someone must have heard me because two weeks later, they did.
On my first day there, I changed money on the black market; that is someone gave me a lot of lei for 100 American dollars. A lot of lei! It was the most currency I had ever seen in one place. There was only one problem with it. There was nothing to buy. Ceauşescu’s government had left Rumanians living in poverty with empty shelves in their stores and no produce in their markets. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I hadn't counted on it being so cold and I had to go to several stores to find one pair of gloves. I think someone just gave me a pair.
Whereas usually there was a lot to be had but I didn't have the money to buy much, now I had lots of money but there was nothing to be had. I was the richest I had ever been, relatively speaking, and if I could only find it, I could buy anything I wanted.
I remember going for a pedicure and tipping the person more than it cost. It was a wonderful feeling but it was a bittersweet triumph. What's the good of having all this money if you can't buy anything?
Buying power is one way we judge if someone's rich. Possessions is another way. But it's all relative. All I had was $100 worth of lei but it was a virtual fortune in downtrodden Rumania at the time.
When we say we want a lot of money, we usually mean that we want what the money can afford us. And when we say that, we usually mean whatever is available to everyone else.
I was feeling rich, simply because I had more buying power than anyone else even though there was almost nothing to buy. Hot water, heating, light, food, all these were in poor supply in Rumania at the time. Was I really richer than I am now with sufficient food, heating, light, even though I can't afford a car or a trip abroad?
I didn't mind; it was an adventure. But was it really so much fun to be above everyone else's poverty and discontent? Not really.
It was like having monopoly money. I had to get rid of it before I left Rumania because you couldn't take money out of the country. It was like being on one of those spending sprees where you had to spend as much as you can in a given time limit.
The potential to get whatever I wanted, the opposite of a feeling of lack was what made the difference.
I often wonder what happened to the people I met and how they fared through the revolution. I've heard that since that time, Rumania has experienced a rise in lifestyle and greater freedom. My vacation there put a lot of my thoughts about having money and things into perspective. And I became the richer for it, in more ways than one.
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