Money Changes Everything: Can You Put a Price on Passion?

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In her awkward, somewhat raspy voice, singer Cyndi Lauper made popular the line, “money changes everything,” in her 1983 “She’s So Unusual” album release.

While the song might be nothing more than a flashback to the 80s, that phrase — and lyrics to the song — continue to find their way into the social lives of people every day, especially as the country’s economy seems to be flushing out the middle class.

Love, family and friendships become victims of money’s cruel grasp on people’s lives, as some believe a hefty bank account and materialistic things outweigh relationships.

Others spend so much time working just to earn a basic living, they fail to have enough time for family, friends and love.

How has money changed you?

I’ve seen friendships fade because one claims to make a strategic, never again offered job change, only later to become inundated with buying anything and everything of the latest and failing to offer enough time for people.

Suddenly, lavish items, trips and expensive restaurants are all the rage. Social circles change and before you know it, a Wall Street-esque approach is applied to friendships.

We’ve all been around family gatherings where one cousin-brother-uncle-aunt-sister-distant in-law’s job and/or finances become the subject of a holiday dinner or summer picnic — whether they earn hundreds of thousands of dollars or are barely getting by.

Money is a touchy subject among husbands and wives, families, friends and even with children.

My parents always fought over money, and continue to do so. Sometimes it’s as simple as arguing over where to eat dinner.

I’ve never been infatuated with money. Money doesn’t buy me love, friendship or family.

While some replace shoes, shirts and Apple products as they go out of style, I try to get as much use out of any item as I can manage. Clearance racks at Target are better than any sale rack at Macy’s, in my opinion.

Instead of focusing on money, I’ve focused on passion, pride and love. Everybody thinks they deserve a bigger paycheck. People always assume a co-worker or some other person is making more than they deserve.

Yet, I don’t bother to think about making more money. Most of the time, anyway.

I focus on passion and determination. My reward in a job comes from knowing I put forth my best effort and made a difference.

Case in point, my volunteer work. In each of the last two years, I spent more than 1,000 hours volunteering for the American Cancer Society. That’s a total of 2,000 hours I never received a paycheck for or earned any sort of stipend. That’s 2,000 hours I could have spent sleeping, at a part-time job or any number of other self-serving activities.

My reward in volunteering is greater than any paycheck. My reward in having accountable, dependable, honest friends is better than any paycheck. Having family close by is better than any paycheck.

It seems, however, some make choices based on money earned. They care little about a well-rounded quality life spent with humans — whether they be family, friends or volunteering. For them, a bigger paycheck means a newer computer more often, a bigger and more expensive wardrobe, five-star cuisine on a regular basis and much more.

I may not have much in terms of a thriving bank account or materialistic things to one-up somebody with, but my passion, pride and drive come naturally. I didn’t pay a penny for my determination or to know what’s most important in life.

When I think about how money does change everything, I — for better or for worse — think about the song made popular by Lauper.