Getting Funny With Your Money

“Mr. Parsons, even in prosperity, always fretting. Mr. Potts, in the midst of poverty, ever laughing. It seems then, that happiness in this life rather depends on internals than externals…”
– Ben Franklin

My friend Michael Horn once said, “Are you wondering if there’s life after debt?” When the going gets tough around money, a sense of humor and perspective will help you navigate through difficult financial times. It can even be hysterically funny how worried, attached and obsessed we get with our money!

Comedian Jack Benny, the acknowledged king of the tightwads, satirized this brilliantly in a sketch that had him being held up at gunpoint. When the gunman says menacingly, “Your money, or your life!” Jack strikes his patented pose, pondering the choice, and says, “I’m thinking…” In real life, Jack was reputed to be a generous man; making fun of the tightwad persona reminds us all to lighten up our relationship with money.

If your money could communicate to you, what would it say? “Darling, take me out before I get old and wrinkled,” or conversely, “You don’t give me a moment’s rest! I feel used up. Would your money say, “You just don’t appreciate me; I feed you, clothe you, give you a comfortable home and a car, and you treat me like dirt. I’m outta here!” Or, “Do you want me locked up in a safe all day? You’re too possessive! I need to go out and circulate.” Money is like any other form of energy, it is meant to circulate. Of course, it helps to be prudent in deciding how to circulate your money. From the book, Accent On Humor: “Last week I spent $450 to fly to Florida, $350 to rent a car, and $80 for gas to drive to a $250 a day resort and attend a $1,995 seminar called ‘Money Isn’t Everything’”.

Prosperity is a state of mind. If you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell, you’re conscious of prosperity! Being alive is a sensual banquet. Having enough is a very relative concept. Millionaires have a lot of money in most people’s eyes, yet some of them are chronically worried about money, while some of the poorest rejoice in what little they have and feel as though all their needs are being met. In his book “Everyday Wisdom,” Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “The first step towards discarding a scarcity mentality involves giving thanks for everything that you are and everything that you have.”

So what does humor have to do with money? It keeps us in balance when we undergo financial setbacks. It keeps the little voice of fear out of our ear. In the documentary film “Marx Brothers In A Nutshell,” writer Norman Krasna reflects on an encounter with Groucho: “One afternoon in 1929 Groucho lost $230,000 in the stock market. Years later, he took me to the VIP gallery at the stock exchange. At the top of his lungs in a vaudeville voice, he starts to sing `When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. ‘The whole stock exchange froze like a painting. He sang two lines, then stopped and said, `Fellas, I lost $230,000 here one Friday afternoon in 1929. I am now going to sing two choruses of `When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.’ And he started again. Now, the (ticker) tape is coming in blank all over the world. They must think there’s an earthquake in New York. So Groucho finishes the song and everyone gives him a tremendous hand. He looks down to the floor and says, ‘Don’t just stand there, you could be wiping someone out in Beverly Hills,’ and continues to do five minutes of shtick. They were roaring at every joke, and the stock market went up several points that day. I don’t see why they didn’t keep Groucho there permanently.”

Another gem from the book “Accent on Humor”: “Andrew Carnegie was a charitable man, but he also believed that people should work for what they got. After seven years as the sole supporter of his local symphony orchestra, Carnegie decided that it was time for the fund raisers to earn their keep. ‘You will no longer get your total budget from me,’ he told the stunned representatives. ‘I will contribute only an amount equal to the donations you get from other sources.’”

“The fundraisers departed in shock. But two days later, they returned with half the symphony’s budget, $3.5 million, already pledged. Carnegie was greatly pleased. `I hope this teaches you young fellows a lesson,’ he said as he wrote out a check for $3.5 million. `Surely two days was not an unreasonable investment of your time and efforts. May I ask where you raised such a large amount in so little time?’ The head of the fund raising delegation smiled. He said, `We got it from Mrs. Carnegie.’”

Excerpts from my book, “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough, Lighten Up!’
© Mental Floss Publications
All Rights Reserved

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