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The Real Value of Money 

by Sherry Lutz Herrington

It’s fascinating that we don’t all perceive the value of money the same way.   The worth of money isn’t just the number printed on the bill; it varies for everyone. What I mean is that how you perceive money can vary from someone else depending on your circumstances.  Sure, a dollar is a dollar, but its significance can be largely different for someone emerging from a financially abusive relationship compared to someone well on her way to financial freedom. 

Think about it this way.   

If you are unemployed, broke, and trying to get back on your feet, $10 can be the difference between eating or going hungry. 

However, if you’re earning the average annual salary for American women in 2023 which is $53,404 (https://www.usatoday.com/money/blueprint/business/hr-payroll/average-salary-us/) buying a $10 coffee is no big deal.  But if you’re earning well over $100,000, then you may consider $10, nothing more than a little pocket change. 

To me, it’s a bit like climbing stairs.  You start at the bottom, and each step brings you more financial comfort, changing the value of money. 

If you are living in a financially abusive relationship and haven’t yet been able to leave, money might feel very different to you compared to a woman who has left such a relationship and is now in full control of her finances.   Living under someone else’s financial control means you may not have access to money, even if technically it’s available.  When your use of the family finances is restricted, every dollar becomes precious, and you learn to scrimp and save.  

For a woman who’s gained her independence, money can still be challenging for a while. Putting good saving techniques to work can help you to dig out of the financial gutter and move towards financial freedom.  Soon, $10 will have a different value for you.   

It isn’t just about women recovering from financial abuse.  It’s also true as you grow from a broke college student to full time employee to successful career woman.  Over time, the value of money changes along with your income.   

On the flip side, you might experience the opposite after you retire or if you leave a financially successful partner who didn’t restrict your spending.  

A sudden drop in income or living standards can change the value of money in the opposite direction. 

If you’re used to treating yourself to spa days without worry, adjusting to a new financial situation can be tough. Learning to revalue money in your new situation will be paramount to your success.   

As you approach retirement, you’ll likely have a shift in your finances and start to begin rethinking the value of a dollar.   Setting a budget and sticking to it might become essential, so you don’t run out of money before the end of the month. 

Everyone’s situation is unique, so the value of money is different for each of us. 

 As we go through life, we might find ourselves climbing up or down the financial stairs.  Whether $10 feels like a lot or a little, depends on where you are financially today.  Tomorrow it could be very different. 

Living in line with your financial reality is key.  

If you stick to an outdated financial mindset, which no longer fits your situation, you might either deprive yourself unnecessarily or overspend beyond your means. 

Your view of money’s value will likely differ from others around you. It’s important to consider this when suggesting lavish outings with friends.  

Remember your current financial state is not fixed; as your situation changes, so will the value of money.  Strive to live within your financial reality while aiming to improve your financial well-being.  Climbing up or down the financial stairs of life happens to all of us.  Figure out where you are now and where you want to go next.  $10 can be pocket change for all of us; financial recovery is possible. 

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