Money Versus Ingenuity



    Having money to pay for all the stuff we need seems to be the perfect solution for a simplified and easy life, yet money can become a problem, even if is in small amounts.

    What I see (and it has happened to me) is the lost of ingenuity to solve even simple, everyday problems. We tend to just use money for everything (plastic…kicking the purchase to the future) and forget how to use our creativity. I know because when in my country in South America, due to a lack of money, I used to take apart every mechanical device that supposed to be disposable, and fix it with ingenuity and lots of work.

    For some time, while in the States, I used the normal procedure of throwing away and buying a new one. Soon I discovered I was loosing my capability of thinking, analyzing, and even the fun of fixing something that suppose to be “not fixable” (breaking the system :) ), and instead having the stress of requiring more and more money.

    Let me give you an example:

    Some time ago I had a problem with the alternator in my van. It stopped charging, and for a vehicle with everything electric, and using it for night delivery, it just couldn’t be driven without it. So I checked the cost in an auto part store and got shocked: More than 300 dollars for a rebuilt one! I just couldn’t afford it at that moment.

    So decided to go back to the “ingenuity solution system” and took the alternator apart to find out what the exact problem was. It happened to be the carbon brushes that wore out beyond the minimum size. So searched in my tool box and found a couple of old, used carbon brushes from another vehicle, which were bigger in size. I sand them down to the approximate size required, then installed them in the alternator and returned it to the vehicle.

    It worked like a charm! It’s been more than 25,000 miles since then and it is still working without a problem. Total cost: Zero!  Time: Approximately twice that it’ll take just exchanging the old alternator for a new one (four hours).

    There are many things we can do, not only to save money, but to keep “oiled” our creativity, and avoid becoming more and more dependant on money to solve everyday problems.

    It is really nice to just buy and replace, especially when there’s new, with more features to enjoy, but the problem is we are giving up our thinking capabilities in the process, and after a while, we might find ourselves unable to find solutions to bigger, life-size problems, becoming people highly trained in using the latest device, yet desperate for more money to sustain our way of life, and having at the same time a sense of loss that we cannot explain (so many in search of minimalism, self awareness, inner balance, and so on).

    “Sometimes having money can destroy a good, working brain”

    Ahh…the pleasures of not being rich!  :)


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9 Responses to Money Versus Ingenuity

  1. Pingback: Here Are Some Major Affiliate Marketing Myths To Watch Out For …

  2. Sara says:

    Raul — I’m impressed. I like to be able to do what you did with the alternator, but I must confess I have no idea where it is my car:~)

    Now, I can fix minor sewing problems, like a lost button or torn seam, but I’m not good at being a fix it up person, but I get your point. We do need to more conscious about what we toss because it’s broken. Sometimes even taking something to a appliance repair shop is better than buying something new. In the States, I think we believe new is always better.

    Good post…thanks:~)
    Sara´s last post ..The Color Red

    Raul Reply:

    Hi Sara,

    My mother in law warned my wife before we married: “Never marry a handyman…or you will never have anything new” :)

    What I love about fixing things is that it makes my brain work, more than just buying new stuff. Creativity must be worked out in order to make it better and more efficient. If we ask a compulsive shopper we’ll see they have developed almost an instinct for discounts, but cannot find a solution that doesn’t require spending more money.

    With that, we give away our freedom of thought and change it into slavery of money :(

    Raul´s last post ..Money Versus Ingenuity

  3. Joshua Noerr says:

    Raul, this is such an interesting thought. As you know, I’ve written about the availability of information making us lazy and killing creativity, but I never thought of it like this.

    Now that you mention it though, I remember surfing trips to Mexico where we would see locals with cars that by all rights should not have been running. They probably had 300 thousand miles on them or more. But there they were, moving right along.

    If a problem is just too easy, and you can throw money at it, you may just be missing the point of having a problem to begin with.

    Raul Reply:

    Hi Joshua,

    First oaf all, sorry that your comment didn’t show up immediately, but just now I found it in my spam folder. I guess Akismet is going nuts!

    “If a problem is just too easy, and you can throw money at it, you may just be missing the point of having a problem to begin with.”

    Great point! If we suppose to grow with the action of facing and solving problems, if we avoid them, we stop our own growth.

    Thank you for your always great contributions :)


  4. Kelvin Kao says:

    Certain skills and knowledges are still needed to do something like this. I wouldn’t know what to do with an alternator if I have it right in front of me!

    However, I do enjoy figuring out fixes for things. Duct tape is my best friend. ;-)
    Kelvin Kao´s last post ..Channeling MacGyver

    Raul Reply:

    Hi Kelvin,

    Well, you drive a car and don’t know how to fix it. I use a computer and have no clue about it either!

    Fixing things can be very rewarding; and for sure help us to re-inforce in our own capabilities.

    And duct tape has become a “must have” these days :)

    Raul´s last post ..Money Versus Ingenuity

  5. I often think we are now living in the Entertainment Generation. Most of us would rather pay to have things fixed or taken care of so that we can spend more time in the pursuit of entertainment. That four hours you spent isn’t acceptable in the entertainment generation, so don’t let it happen again. ;) Of course that does mean we lose all ability to think, reason, and figure things out. It also means we’re in big trouble with the apocalypse finally arrives.
    Eric | Eden Journal´s last post ..Reality Check- The No Gift Christmas and Donations to Charity as Christmas Gifts

    Raul Reply:

    Hi Eric,

    Supposedly, the liberation from tedious tasks would give freedom to pursue arts and knowledge, yet the opposite is happening, as you point out. Instead of growing, we tend to go down by following the shortest trail. So the need to push ourselves in order to avoid loosing our own capabilities is a must.

    Raul´s last post ..Money Versus Ingenuity

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