True or False: Money is the Root of All Evil

The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Catherine Alford. Cat is a freelance personal finance writer who blogs at www.BudgetBlonde.com

I feel like the word “money” sometimes comes with a negative connotation. Do you sometimes feel that way, as if it’s immoral to want it or strive for having lots of it?

After all, our parents warn us against worshiping it. Some say it’s the least important thing in the world. Others caution us to respect it and understand it. Then, of course, there’s the saying that it’s the root of all evil.

If you think about it, that’s a pretty serious accusation!

It can certainly be argued that a desire for money has led to some pretty catastrophic events. Some that come to mind include wars, murder, Ponzi schemes and a slew of other things that we don’t like to mention in polite conversation.

However, what about the good that money can bring? What about all the great things that it can do when there’s lots of it?

I can think of a few situations where money isn’t the root of all evil at all. In fact, it can be a ray of hope. I’ve listed of few of these below:

 

1.      Donations to Worthy Causes

Monetary donations can absolutely change lives. To cite an extreme example, Warren Buffett recently donated a large portion of his overall wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Even something small like paying for the food of the person behind you in the drive through can brighten their day. Have you ever noticed that around Christmas time, people are always paying for groceries and giving back? Wouldn’t it be nice if that was the norm all the time? This example actually shows that you don’t need a lot of money at all to make someone happy or improve their day.

Another example of donations is donating to your church. Many people give 10% of their income or more to their church, and that’s used for worthwhile causes in the community. You can also donate to other organizations all over the world and help people who are not as fortunate as we are.

 

2.      Investing in a Business You Believe In

Another great way to help others using money is investing in businesses that you believe are worthwhile and promising. Small business owners often can’t even get their ideas off the ground without the help of investors, and they are often extremely appreciative of the help they receive.

Of course, investing in a small business is definitely risky because you don’t know if they will succeed, but with enough research and enough forethought, an experienced investor will be able to spot the good ideas and help them come to fruition.

 

3.      Paying For Others To Travel

When I was in college, I was the recipient of a need-based scholarship to study abroad. An older couple in the community gave it. They pledged $5,000 to a student who wanted to visit and study in another country, and that lucky student was me!

Their generous donation changed my life, and sparked a desire to see the world even more. I’ve even been living abroad for over two years now. I might not have had the confidence to move abroad without the generosity of that couple who helped me travel all those years ago.

 

4.      It’s an Excellent Motivator

Many people older and wiser than I am will say that you shouldn’t be motivated by money; however, I’m not sure that’s true. It would be hard to find someone who isn’t motivated by their income.

Don’t we all work hard so that we do well in our careers so that we can bring home an income to feed our families? If we don’t do well at work or we slack off, we could get laid off or fired!

So, while I don’t think money should be your only motivator to work hard, I think it’s okay for it to be one of your motivators.

Another example of being motivated by money is trying to raise money for a cause. For example, Jacob has his Give 10% Back Project. He is motivated to raise money. Money isn’t the actual motivator, but donating money is. In that way, I feel like we can be motivated by the numbers without losing ourselves in the process.

As evidenced by the examples above, money doesn’t have to be associated with “evil.” I know that the quote generally means that money is the root or the motivating factor behind most evil acts. However, it’s also the motivation for some of the most charitable, life altering, and generous acts of kindness around. I’ve been the recipient of them.

How about you all? Have you been the recipient of generous acts of kindness involving money? Do you think money is the root of all evil?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/jono2k5/2495905416/sizes/m

Comments

  1. It’s ridiculous to declare money the root of all evil. The most logical argument would be that there are plenty of evil actions that have nothing to do with money. Even in the cases where evil is committed due to money, it isn’t the money itself which is evil – it’s the greed associated with it. As you’ve outlined, there is plenty of good that can be done with money, but there is also plenty of evil which occurs without it.
    Financial Independence recently posted…What is financial independence?My Profile

  2. Stuart@DailyMoneyBucket says:

    Great article Cat.

    Most people overlook the first few words of this famous quote. Money is not the root of all evil, it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil. There’s a distinction between the two.

    When someone reaches the stage where all they think about is money and accumulating more of it just for the sake of having more of it, that can turn sour. But money is neither good nor bad, except in how it is used.

    Much depends on the person who is in charge of the money. It can be used to help people or to harm them.

    In my opinion, the best way to be in a position to help people who have nothing is to make sure that you’re not one of them.
    Stuart@DailyMoneyBucket recently posted…How To Budget When Your Income Is VolatileMy Profile

    • Thanks for the insight!! I agree; life isn’t all about accumulating money just for the sake of it!
      Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted…Grenada & Its Lack of Alarm SystemsMy Profile

    • Thank you for pointing this out before I had to. It drives me crazy when people say ‘ money is the root of all evil’. No, the verse says ‘ the LOVE of money’. There is a big difference between those two statements.
      One says that an inanimate object is at fault, the other blames the human heart; and if you read the news everyday you’ll know which statement is more true.

  3. Money itself is neither good or bad, but what you do with it is telling.

    People often say that couples fight about money, but they really aren’t. They’re fighting about priorities, splashy vacation or save for retirement, new car or renovate the kitchen, kids college fund or donate to charity. If the couples priorities are in line; spend or save, lifestyle, then there are no fights about money. If the priorities are out of line, then there is conflict.

    The same as an individual, they can use money to do good, take care of themselves, or spend it on a weekend in Vegas. It’s not the money itself, but the priorities behind it.
    Matthew recently posted…The Queen of VersaillesMy Profile

  4. Money is an object and the way you use and view it determines if its good or evil. It always ends up being the person’s intention. It’s important to be interested in money since that’s what runs the world and pays the bill. It’s when people place too much importance on it that it can start skewing towards becoming evil.

    The people who view money as evil probably misused it or just have a very negative experiences. I certainly like money! I work hard to get money and to achieve some goals of mine. I certainly wouldn’t hoard it though or use it for bad things as that crosses the line.
    Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen recently posted…Embarking on the House Buying JourneyMy Profile

  5. Money can be a means to great and good things! I don’t think that money is the root of all evil – I think that the LOVE of money is evil.
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…Links Lisa Likes – 8/23/13My Profile

  6. Money is never the “root of all evil” – it’s what you do with the money you have that matters. Contrary to what some will have you believe, money opens up unlimited possibilities for doing good in this world. But what you ultimately do with your money will show what kind of person you really are.
    Anton Ivanov recently posted…TradeKing Promotional Codes 2013My Profile

  7. Based on your article, Cat, and the thoughts of the commenters, the consensus seems to be money is NOT the root of all evil. I agree. Money only leads to evil if you let it consume you. Money is merely a medium to accomplish both good and bad. It’s the thoughts behind the money that creates the evil.
    Mr. Utopia @ Personal Finance Utopia recently posted…Are Paid Vacations Really a Job Benefit?My Profile

  8. I agree with what others have said. Money by itself does nothing. Money can be used for evil or good. I think most of us want to do good with out money, whether that’s to make sure our family is well cared for, or to try to help others by doing something like setting up a monthly donation to the local food bank (which is one of the things we do).
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted…Don’t Be a Grumpy GusMy Profile

  9. I think when I was younger, I could agree that money is the root of all evil simply because it is what drove me. Not so much to better the world, but just to get more of it. I would never do anything for free – I’d always want some money in exchange for doing something. Now that I am older and wiser, I’m not so consumed with money. I know I still need it to live life, but it isn’t the be all end all.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted…Summer Job Lessons LearnedMy Profile

  10. I believe the original phrase was that the love of money (greed) was the root of all kinds of evil…and somehow it got morphed into something else, lol. If someone looks into money matters with the intention to get rich quick, it kind of falls into that love of money example. When people set out to make money for good intentions, and are pure of heart, it’s hard to say evil exists in their desire for money. Great article!
    Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries recently posted…Insurance/Health Care is Not the Problem, Money IsMy Profile

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