Isn’t money one of those strange concepts we live with but don’t think much about? [Not that we don’t think much about money, but that we don’t think much about what it means.]
Every now and again I have the reserves spare to invest my monthly pay cheque entirely in savings/shares etc.. What I get at the end of the month are numbers on a (virtual PDF) pay slip, that then appear as numbers on my online bank screen. These I then transfer (thanks to websites and email) into investment accounts. At no point (at least at my end) does the money materialise itself even in the form of printed numbers on a real piece of paper.
Then what happens? Well the investment in say shares/savings will continue for many years and in itself only ever ‘appears’ on regular electronic statements. The sum will hopefully earn interest/dividends/capital gains, which will increase my financial value, and perhaps one day give me the security to retire (hopefully early) (when I say retire, I really mean, change careers to something I’m 100% passionate about for which I do regardless of financial gain).
But there’s probably a good chance that the initial investment will never be ‘cashed in’, i.e. transferred into something material like a house, car or holiday. Instead, it’s quite likely that what started as payment for a month’s work, will in its entirety be handed over to my descendants upon my death, who may well finally convert it into something physical. [If I was in the mood of the writer of Ecclesiastics, I might speculate about the pay cheque eventually being meaninglessly wasted by descendants :-)]
Looking at this whole process, doesn’t it seem rather strange how much power virtual numbers on a page mean to us? Perhaps the power they have is the potential they embody. But it still seems that this month’s pay cheque makes almost zero difference to my life. Of course, I could simply head out and spend wildly – but for some reason I’d prefer seeing the value of the pay cheque as numbers in a virtual online account, rather than materialised in a new car or a few foreign holidays to far-flung destinations.