Money Metaphors (SToM 5/6)

There are many views about money.

As printed currency notes and shiny metal coins.

As numbers on a bank statement.

As assets owned, items possessed.

Those are literal.

I prefer metaphors.

Because they are more powerful. Flexible. And versatile.

A metaphor can hint, expand and explain complex things – in a way that would otherwise be hard to do without seeming crude, blunt or impolite.

My favorite metaphor is this…

Money is ENERGY.

Like energy, it flows from one place to another; from one person to others.

Along the way, it touches and transforms. Transfers something of value. And at times, gathers force and power.

Money, like energy, can do good. If it is harnessed to – or directed towards – useful and valuable things, its impact will be positive.

Money can also do harm. That depends upon the channels into which it is guided, the mindset of people who can access it, and the efficiency with which it’s used.

Most relevant to my overall philosophy, money is like energy in that it FLOWS THROUGH us.

Save or hoard it too long, or in excess – and it’s like storing up energy.

A dam can hold only a certain amount of water… before it cracks under the strain, unleashing it in huge, uncontrollable torrents.

A capacitor can store only a fixed amount of electricity – beyond which it short-circuits and burns up.

Energy demands freedom.

To move around. To change hands. To make change.

Money is the same.

It’s meant to circulate. In proportion to value-adds. And the study of this process is what constitutes ‘Economics’.

In a more literal sense, the energy one feels from the heft of a thick wallet in your pocket is a kind transmitted by money itself.

Money can motivate the idle to toil.

It can move the lazy to action.

It drives the committed to greater heights.

Just the same as energy.

So… that’s one metaphor. My favorite money metaphor.

Here’s another.

Money is the SCORE, not the Game.

Far too often, I run into folks who are firmly convinced the money is the end goal of every life.

Nothing matters in life as much as having money,” they’ll declare confidently.

I’ve met a few folks who say that… even on their death bed!

And yet, if you just pause to ponder, it’s quickly obvious.

Money isn’t the ‘game’ of Life.

It’s just a way – one of several ways – of keeping score.

Just as it would be kind of vague, even pointless, to have a soccer match where nobody counts goals scored…

Or a game of cricket where there isn’t a scoreboard or card…

Or a boxing match where no one is counting punches or totting up points…

A life unmeasured in money terms is kind of tough to evaluate.

It’s why policy-makers and insurance firms have elaborate equating formulas – to assign dollar-values to intangibles.

Like youth. Healthiness. Or mental attitude.

Or hard-to-quantify stuff – like eyes with perfect vision, feet that are attached to star sportsmen, or limbs chopped off careless factory workers.

Giving things a ‘money value‘ aids in comparison.

And assists with compensation.

But it’s still just a way to keep score.

Mistake it for the ‘Game’ itself – and you’re in for a surprise down the line!


I’m sure there are several other money metaphors.

Which ones are your favorites?

Please share.