The Yin Yang of Money
You’ve likely seen the yin yang. It’s the symbol that shows how opposing forces create a whole. It’s the balance between night and day, winter and summer, hot and cold, soft and hard. In is the interaction of yin and yang that maintains the harmony of the universe. Yin energy is calm, wet, cooling. Yang energy is hot, fast, dry. Yin is associated with water, earth, the moon and the female; Yang is all about fire, sky, the sun and the male.
Life is always about trying to return to balance. So on hot days we choose cool salads and crave ice cream. On cold days it’s the hot foods like soup, stew and chili that we seek as “comfort” foods. After a hot day in the sun, we love the feeling of cool cream slathered on our pink skin. After a cold day of skiing or snowboarding, a long hot tub returns us to balance.
I want you to look at the yin yang symbol. Do you see how the white side has a black dot, and the black side has a white dot? Even as yin yang illustrates the whole is made up of disparate parts, there is a nugget of the opposite within each side. Since nothing in nature or in life is purely black or white, the symbol includes a small black spot in the white swirl, and a corresponding white spot in the black swirl. There’s a little Yang within the Yin, and vice versa.
That’s life folks: opposite forces working together, and even within those forces, other forces, all seeking to create balance. And the same is true for money.
You can’t do any one thing to the exclusion of all the other pieces. You must put things in balance for the whole to work. That means saving some money even as you are working your butt off to pay off your debt. It means looking for small ways to cut costs, even as you spend to keep a roof over your head and to enjoy your life. Doing anything to the exclusion of anything else leaves you vulnerable because your money isn’t in balance.
I’ve long extolled how important it is to take care of your money as a whole. We have to look at both sides of the balance sheet to make sure we’re moving along to where we want to be next. It doesn’t matter where you are right now, if you want to be somewhere else – in a better place – you need to look at the whole and create some balance. So if you’ve been shopping up a storm, racking up debt, and having nothing saved for the future, you’re yin yang is out-of-whack and you’ll be miserable. You might not be miserable now as you relish the hot of acquisition and pleasure, but it’s only a matter of time before you feel the cold of bill collectors and not being able to keep a roof over your head.
I try to live my life in balance. It doesn’t always come easy, contrary to what some people think. It actually takes work. Balancing career with family means saying no to some opportunities to make money so that I have the time with my children I need to have to be a good mother and teacher. Flying hither and yon (which I despise) to make a buck means being able to take the children on that trip that will open up their world and expand their horizons. I’m always balancing what I’ll do for money with what I want to accomplish elsewhere in my life. And I weigh carefully what I have against what I need and what I want so that I don’t end up unbalancing my life in a way that’ll takes heaps of energy to correct.
One of the mantras I use with the children is this: Where we are today is not where we’ll be tomorrow.
If life is good, say thank you and hang on; bumps ahead. If life sucks, know that it’s all about to change; just hang on.
The same is true with your money. There will be times when you run short, have to scrounge to come up with rent, or must work three jobs because the caca has hit the fan. And there will be times when you feel like you’re rolling in clover. If you remember that the point is to find balance, you’ll be able to adjust and do what you must to keep things flowing as smoothly as possible.
Can you see how important an emergency fund is to the whole idea of balance? How about setting aside a little sumthin’ sumthin’ now for the future when you’re not working? How about getting to DFF?
How close are you to balanced? What’s thrown your yin yang out of balance and how have you dealt with it?