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Weekend reading: Can money buy freedom?

My regular roundup of the week’s blog and financial site links.

I suspect most of you caught the market turmoil this week. The financial journalists certainly relished the chance to scare their audiences witless again.

No, surprise given everyone is still nostalgic [1] for the credit crisis.

Let’s keep this in perspective. Year-to-date:

That’s just noise, not a new Apocalypse.

Could Greek government debt spark a wider crisis? It’s possible – the Euro has long been an accident waiting to happen.

But personally I think this is just a normal sell-off on any old excuse as we climb our way up a new bull run.

It will take a couple more solid boom years before the story moves on and the reporters forget markets can go down as well as up again. Currently they think a rising market is a government conspiracy.

The post of the week

Here on Monevator, we walked our own path with articles on unemployment [2], bond safety [3], a banker and his Miranda Kerr video [4], the new LSE bond market [5], and the new UK boom [6].

Continuing the contrary tone, my blog post of the week is an article from last week’s Financial Times! However it is very personal, and a great read.

John Lanchester, the English novelist, has written a book about money in the wake of the credit crisis. I groaned when I first heard about the book, entitled Whoops!, but going by this article it will be a must read.

In Can Money Set You Free? [7], Lanchester writes:

Security is a complicated idea, and one with an immense potential to trap us – that was one lesson I learnt from my father.

Money isn’t automatically freedom. You need to look carefully at what you’re doing to earn the money before you can conclude that you are, in practice, free. This is a cost-benefit analysis we should all perform on our own lives.

Don’t listen to what people say about freedom and security and money but, instead, look at the specific, actual bargains they are making with their lives.

I’ve written about money and my father [8], and also the dangers of money obsession [9], but Lanchester’s piece proves I Must Try Harder.

His explanation of his own attitude to money is perceptive, and I could hardly agree more with this:

One of our culture’s deepest held beliefs is expressed in the question, “If you’re so smart why ain’t you rich?” But people in finance are rich – so it logically follows that everything they choose to do must be smart. That was the syllogism followed by too many people in the money business.

What really chimed with me were his comments about how money will shape your life. I’ve known this for years, and seen it play out since I was a student who went through the usual intellectual dalliances with communism and even anarchism before returning to my one true if sullied love, free markets.

More in the future about this journey and how even my goals for Monevator are changing (I believe more in financial freedom than early retirement, nowadays) but let’s conclude with this last fabulous insight from Lanchester:

It helps to have a compass, and mine is based on two principles, both of them learnt from my banker father: anxiety is freedom, and the way you are living will have been your life.

That’s worth repeating: The way you are living will have been your life.

Highlights from the personal finance blogs

Other interesting financial and money articles

Bonus: Highlights from the Alexa challenge entrants

I’m taking part in an initiative started by my blogging buddy Financial Samurai [23] to see if I can tempt a few more misguided souls into reading Monevator’s 1,000 word sleep aids essays on investing.

As a friendly nod to my fellow entrants, here’s my pick of their latest articles:

Hope you found a blog in there you liked! (Special thanks to Sweating the Big Stuff for the handy list [51]).

Reading through all these sites really brings home how many are out there. If you choose to read Monevator let alone subscribe [52], my special thanks this week!

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