My husband was ready to fill out and sign a birthday card for a client turning 100 years in a few days. I told him where to find the card and, because it was near a pile of other cards, added, “I think it’s blue.”
It turns out there were two blue birthday cards on the table. He got the one intended for our nonagenarian aunt and wrote a note to his client on it before he read it. “Baby! Did I get the wrong card? This is too mushy, too personal for my client.”
What a waste that such a beautiful card must be thrown away. To console myself, I said, “It’s only money.”
I then started thinking about that phrase and what I meant by it. Recently I heard someone say, “Rich people always say that.” I suppose that made me think harder.
I’m not rich and I’m not wasteful, generally speaking. I can scrape the mayonnaise jar with the best of them! I did not mean to devalue frugality or excuse excess.
By saying what I did, I was telling myself, more than him, that I refuse to get upset about a small, careless mistake.
My inclination, my first impulse, was to chide him for not reading the card before signing and personalizing it. The purpose would have been to make sure he didn’t do it again. But his pocketbook was injured by his mistake — a better deterrent than a nagging wife.
“It’s only money,” was my indirect way of pointing out that his haste had made waste.
I can think of other appropriate times to say, “It’s only money.” It’s a way to laugh at oneself for wasting money or it can be a way to dismiss the guilt that comes with our indulgence in a pricey pleasure, like a rich meal or the best seats at a concert.
It could be a tongue-in-cheek way to tell someone they owe you for a loss they caused.
I suppose it could also be spoken in certain situations to diffuse sorrow and worry, like at a stock market loss or a house fire. “It’s only money,” highlights the greater things: life, family, health.
But it’s certainly not a good way to brag about how much a person has.
Saying, “Rich people always say that,” can be taken as a joke. It could also be a way of refusing to laugh off a costly mistake, and demand an apology or recompense, implying you can better afford the loss.
At the risk of rebuff, I think I’ll keep saying, “It’s only money.” If anyone objects, I’ll tell them what I mean.
Don’t let money control your life or make you anxious. It’s important to be wise stewards but we must keep it in balance. Don’t waste but don’t hoard. Keep it in perspective.