Sometimes I wake up at night wondering why I am not filthy rich. After all, some of the guys I went to school with have managed to get at least halfway there – they are either filthy or rich. Some have managed both, being filthy and rich.

And then it all comes back to me. I never did learn how to handle money. It is not that a fool and his money are soon parted. Or that I have bad habits that need deficit financing, like bad habits of nations do.

I have a mild case of not being able to differentiate between a necessity and a luxury, but it’s only a mild case. I think the problem is I can’t remember under which mattress or inside which book or behind which set of dinner plates I have hidden my money.

Now, I know you never speak of money in a family magazine. But on the other hand, you never speak of a family magazine around money either. Having worked hard and reached a stage where I can now hand out unsolicited advice free of cost to youngsters, here goes.

The important thing to know about money is that it is easily fooled. The less you show you want it, the more it will land in your lap. The more you display a rude desire for it, the less time it will spend searching for your lap. That’s all I have to say. That’s the whole advice, make of it what you will.

Money always arrives accompanied by something else you’d rather not have. Like diabetes, or a general lack of class. It is nature’s way of compensating, and giving those without billions a chance to say, “I’d rather be poor and classy than rich and crass.” Or “I may not have pots of money, but thank whoever is in charge, I have my health.” Or it may just be the way the less moneyed handle the disappointment of not having more money.

Many people start off being mildly dusty rich, then become sandy rich, grubby rich, messy rich, dirty rich and mucky rich before getting to be filthy rich. Some, of course, merely inherit the money, and don’t have to go through all those steps.

Our scriptures say love thy neighbour, but never love being filthy rich; worship your parents, they say, but never worship at the altar of money. The filthy rich can write their own scriptures. And it can be inclusive: love thy neighbour and thy money.

He who is contented is rich said the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, not realising that he who is rich can be contented too. You can be filthy rich but seldom filthy contented.

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