A few days ago, Denise at Flamingo House Happenings wrote about a conversation she and her partner had concerning soul-selling vs. soul-sucking. Is there a difference? I think so…that some things we don’t want to do suck our souls. Other times, we choose to sell our souls, a la Faust, to something wrong or evil for some expected gain.

That got me thinking about souls and finance. Not necessarily in a religious way, but in a way that relates to our beliefs, our spirit, our happiness.

First-where do we work and who do we take money from?

I could never work for Altria (formerly Phillip Morris). Ever. Not only that, but I wouldn’t want to invest in their stock or take money from them for ads. I wouldn’t even want their charitable contributions (though I see arguments for either side). Maybe if they admitted their tactics in advertising to children, repented of their ways, turned their factories into teddy bear places and gave large portions of their profits to help people quilt smoking and bring about world peace. Maybe then.

Recently, I had the chance to let payday loan people advertise on my site. They promised that I could write anything I wanted to about such loans, just not about their specific company.

All I could think of was “They earn their money by exploiting people.” It’s like a guy who does child prostitution wanting you to do his taxes. Nope. Not helping with it or accepting that kind of money. This was very frustrating, since I’d love to have the money-we could really use it.

My parents wouldn’t let me take scholarship money from Scientologists.

Normally, such choices aren’t that clear. The above examples are good ones (I think) of soul-selling. Suppose, though, that I had a job at an elevator company for years, working as their receptionist. I hated it, it paid good money and benefits.

For a few years, that’s soul-sucking. If I work there for 40 years, does it become soul-selling? Or does that just have to do with working for evil people? Is it evil to squash your own dreams and choose a miserable life when you don’t have to but it seems safe? I think it’s at least a very bad thing to do to yourself.

Second-where do we put our money?

I hate to say it, but some great-looking investments fall into the soul-selling area. With millions of people addicted to cigarettes (billions, actually) it’s a great industry to invest in. If I had no conscience, I’d love to get in on that stuff.

What about greyer areas like alcohol? After all, maybe you enjoy an appletini with friends. From what I understand, though, the companies make most of their money from alcoholics (I can’t find the source where I read this, but it makes sense).

We probably all make decisions not to invest in companies we despise. But if, for example, we use indexes or other funds, we may not have a choice. So we tell ourselves it’s part of the bigger pictures. Or maybe that we own such a tiny share of the company that it doesn’t amount to anything. Or that we hope this stock will be off the S&P 500 soon.

Obviously, we can look for socially responsible funds. But financially, they’re not likely to be as good as indexing.

I’m afraid that this is a quandary we’ll all have to live with. How we approach it, I think, is a matter of conscience. It might not bother you at all. It might suck your soul a little when you think of it. If you feel like you’re selling your soul, then get into ethical funds.

Life is, fortunately, about more than getting out of debt or making money. And sometimes we have to turn down great fiscal opportunities to do what’s right. Those choices may be tough, but they’ll help us sleep and night and live with a clear conscience, an untroubled soul. And that is a true blessing!

Note: I’ve changed my blog’s subtitle to “Finance and Life.” I figured that’s an accurate description. I also wanted something which would show it’s a PF blog. 🙂


{ 1 trackback }

Free Chat Rooms
December 5, 2007 at 12:40 am

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

M October 5, 2007 at 12:10 am

I LOVE that you wrote about this. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pf blogging world, and am planning to move my pf posts on to their own blog, one which will talk about issues like that this that are really important to me but don’t seem to really be focused on much in the pf world.

I agree with you that it isn’t all about getting ahead, but also how you do it. We each have our own views about what we consider okay or not, and living in this society, it can be hard to not participate in some of what we might not consider totally right as we are so reliant and part of so many systems that do not always seem to do “the right thing.”

I think we can only do so much without totally or almost totally “dropping out,” and some people do just that. We each have to find where that balance is for us.

I think “socially conscious” investing can be a great option. Other things to consider is how we make money, what jobs we take, and what cos. we work for. Many of us keep our money in banks who may not have the best track records in our views when it comes to what they companies support and take part in. We have to decide what allows us to sleep okay at night and what doesn’t.

I think this would be a great topic to have many pf bloggers write about–I’d love to hear where people do and don’t draw the line as far as making and growing money and wealth.

I think it’s awesome that you haven’t put money first and foremost over your values. It can be tempting to do but I think it’s so important to find ways to make money AND stay faithful to your values the best you can. Especially if you are talking about making money for wants, more than just the very absolute necessities of life.

Mackenzie October 5, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Mrs. Micah! You have changed your blog format and the flowers are utterly lovely!

Also, you write so well. I feel like I can show up here and know that a solid post will have been written. = )

SavingDiva October 5, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Few comments
#1 Great title–It really encompasses your blog topics well
#2 Love the new lay out! The color is cute…
#3 I saw your quilt on Etsy, and it is amazing! You’re very talented.

PaulaB52 October 5, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I like your new layout. Did you do the html yourself or is it from blogger?

Mrs. Micah October 5, 2007 at 4:07 pm

Thanks everybody, for the compliments. I don’t remember where I found the blog scheme, I did a search for “blogger” and “skins” (or maybe “blogspot”?) and looked at the first few sites I found.

@M good point about only being able to do so much before dropping out. A friend of mine made a speech about that in highschool. About doing your best while still engaging society.

Denise October 9, 2007 at 5:11 am

You’ve been blogged. 😉

http://blogher.org/sucking-soul

Leave a Comment

WordPress Admin

css.php