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Will money make a difference to your values?

Mar 22, 2023 | Insights

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On the cusp of a financial crisis, reflect on your core values and decide if you will take the path of service to others or yourself.
When I wrote Right Money, Right Place, Right Time in 2015, I described how society's core value had shifted from duty to freedom. I reflected that, at the end of World War II, the overriding value our parents lived by was duty – duty to Queen and country, the duty to family, and duty to our employers.


However, as we moved into the 60s and 70s, the call of duty began to lessen, and a new value emerged: freedom. From the stories our fathers and grandfathers told us, we now know that freedom is what they were fighting for. For my generation, though, the meaning of freedom began to change.


Freedom no longer meant the freedom to pursue a nine-to-five job working for a single employer, retiring at 65 and probably dying within ten years. Instead, it meant being able to pursue a life that was more fluid and dynamic. The sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, the Beatles, and the Stones, were all symptomatic of this transition from duty as a core value to freedom.


And then, of course, Alan Turing, Claude Shannon and Tim Berners-Lee, along with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak, provided the final catalyst in this transformation; the Internet and the digital world which has produced an IT-based society, the route to 'self-expression, choice, individuality – and freedom' as the late Richard Duvall, co-founder of Egg Bank and Zopa, so succinctly put it in 2005.


Is freedom our primary value today?


Were we right, I ask myself now. Has freedom become our primary value, or has it been subsumed by that one factor ever present in our lives - money? 


I wrote Right Money, Right Place, Right Time seven years after the collapse of Lehman and the ensuing financial crash. By that time, we should have recovered. But, unfortunately, cheap money and central bank support became the norm, providing only an illusion of good times. 


So far, this decade has yet to be kind to the Freedom Trend, which I wrote about enthusiastically in 2015. Instead, Covid, war, the cost of living crisis and the return of financial instability have led to a focus on self and away from the true freedom gained by consciously acting to make a positive difference to others.


Compassion and service are still popular values


Of course, not everyone has gone down this road. I wrote last week with immense gratitude of the people who were there for us in recent difficult times with kindness, compassion and selflessness. And globally, examples of people making sacrifices for others and acting to improve the world abound. Today, people refer to this value as service, not duty, which is fine. However, the outcome is probably not very different from the "duty" of a bygone age.


Moreover, today we have greater freedom to choose to act in our interest or the interest of others. But unfortunately, for many, the freedom to act with choice, self-expression and individuality has led to self-interest, almost certainly exacerbated, even subconsciously, by the financial outlook at a personal and global level.


So, as we sit on the cusp of another global financial crisis that could impact us all if it gets serious, take a little time to reflect on your core values and decide which path you will take: service to others or yourself.

Photo attribution

Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

Other references:

Deedes, Jeremy. Right Money, Right Place, Right Time - Personal Finances to Transform Your Life and Secure Your Future. Rethink Press Limited, 2015.

Taking it further:

Explore Right Money, Right Place, Right Time at

Reflect on what it means to be enough and have enough at

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