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Four Money Lessons from Nature

Posted By Jim On 08/27/2009 @ 7:06 am In Personal Finance | 9 Comments

When you get down to the core of money, it’s really just an abstraction of natural resources. You accept money for your labor because, ultimately, it can buy you the things you want. Food and shelter, at the core of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, are just two of the things you can buy when you have money.

That’s why it’s not so much a leap to look towards nature for lessons about money. Is an acorn to a squirrel any different than a dollar to you or me? Nope. Animals deal with natural resources every single day, in such a simple and easy to understand way, so certainly there is something we can learn from our flora and fauna?

Save in Prosperity

A lot of animals hibernate in the winter. They fatten up while the eating is still good, during the summer and fall months, and then live off that fat during the leaner periods of the winter. Squirrels hide their nuts in secret caches, tapping them when the nuts are less plentiful. Bears load up on fat, carve ditches into hills, and sleep the winter away. Almost every animal is aware of when food will be less plentiful so they save up so they can survive during those periods.

We should be doing the same! Our lean periods aren’t quite as predicable as the seasons but they’re there. We’re in a lean period right now! You can’t set your watch to the cycles but no one ever thinks the good times will roll on forever, so we should save up when the saving is easiest in order to survive when money is less plentiful.

Work In Teams

Many animals live in groups, everything from a school of fish to a flock of geese to a pride of lions; animals congregate for protection. They work in teams to achieve a common goal, whether it’s on a hunt or protecting the young. They do this because many realize that going it alone is much harder than working in a team with others.

This applies to people as well, we are most effective when we learn to work in teams towards a common goal. There is only so much one person can do and by working well with others you have the potential to increase the effectiveness of the group. The total is greater the sum of its parts.

Waste Nothing

When a lion brings down a gazelle, it eats it. Then other animals pick at the remains. After the scavengers like hyenas and vultures are finished, insects and other smaller creatures finish it off until nothing is left except the bones. No usable bit of food is ever wasted.

Early human beings learned the importance using every bit and wasting nothing, something we, as a society have lost. Disposable products are available everywhere and only a fraction of recyclable products are actually recycled. Items that could be repaired are instead discarded because it doesn’t make financial sense to fix them, a replacement is just too cheap.

Migrate

Finally, we all know that bird migrate towards the south for winter because food is more plentiful where it is warmer but they are not a lone. Some butterflies, many sea creatures, even elephants and buffalo will migrate from area to area in search of food. They intuitively recognize that they have to go elsewhere to find food… and they do.

In our current economic climate, a lot of people are finding themselves moving to another town for work. The lesson here is that if you are in need of work, don’t just look in your hometown. Look in other places, look online, but leave your comfort zone because there may not be any jobs there for you. With the internet, finding work outside your hometown is easier than ever. Take advantage of it.

Can you think of any other money lessons we can learn from nature?

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