How Do YOU Define Wealth?

As we have seen over the past few months, wealth can be defined in many ways.  Unfortunately, if we are not consciously grappling with what wealth means for ourselves, most of us take the path of least resistance and define wealth on the basis of how much money someone has.

  • A billionaire is wealthy.
  • A trust fund kid’s parents are wealthy.
  • Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are wealthy.
  • Our neighbor with the shiny new BMW must be wealthy.

And we are generally correct from the standpoint of money or assets. Except when we are fooled by appearances.

People can look wealthy and actually be quite poor (the BMW is leased and the payments are so high that he or she is living in an apartment with no furniture and eating rice and beans or tuna from a can), while others may appear to be poor or just average, and actually be quite wealthy (your neighbor who owns a landscape company and always buys used cars and lives in a modest but nice home might be sitting on a nest egg that would blow your mind).

Most of us want to be wealthy, which is not a bad thing to want, but we tend to focus only on the financial aspect, so much so that we often try to “fake it ’til we make it,” or sacrifice other areas of wealth in the pursuit of this one.

How else can we define wealth?

Would you consider the Dali Lama to be wealthy? In a spiritual sense I would think him extraordinarily wealthy. He is also much happier than many who are financially wealthy.  Our spiritual wealth is just as important as our financial wealth.

What about relationships? Strong bonds between friends and partners are worth more than gold, and as Proverbs says, the right spouse or partner is more valuable than rubies.  Like financial wealth, relationships take work and are built over time.  They can also be lost in an instant when we make poor choices.  Sadly we tend to discount the true wealth of our relationships as we pursue the incomplete image we have of wealth.

Are you taking care of yourself, your body?  Are you making healthy choices for yourself regardless of your actual state of health?  Someone fighting to survive a long term health issue might see someone who is poor but in great health, as wealthy, or they might actually consider themselves more wealthy because of the challenges they have had to overcome.  It may come down to a matter of perspective – what is yours?

Discover your Definition of Wealth

What is your definition of wealth for your life?  Is it out of balance? Are you pursuing financial wealth at the cost of your relationships, spirituality, or health?  How do you know?

The first thing to do is to face it head on and ask yourself what wealth means to you.  What wealth looks like in your mind, what wealth feels like in your heart.

You can do this on your own, but if you have a spouse or partner, I highly recommend you also do it together – you might be surprised how different your ideas of wealth are.  The trick is then to define what wealth means to you as a couple or partnership.

It is also helpful to have someone prompting you with questions and providing feedback to really get at the heart of your definition.  A coach perhaps.  Contact me below if you are interested in discovering your definition of wealth.

Wealth & Technology

Technology has played a crucial role in the growth of the world economy as well as individual wealth.  But it wasn’t always pretty.

The Good

Technology has enabled the amassing of unprecedented wealth as well as access to information. It advances so rapidly due to the accessibility of information and shared knowledge with more and more people across the globe. This means more minds are working on today’s problems than ever before and thus increase the speed at which they are solved.

As technology advances, so too does the world economy. As the world economy grows, more countries and peoples are able to benefit from it. At least that is the theory.

In part this theory is holding true, although not always via altruistic means.

At home, technology has helped us manage our funds better, providing numerous tools to budget and track our spending, like online bank accounts, and tools like Mint.com.

It is also easier to apply for and receive credit, whether for credit cards, car loans, and even mortgages. You don’t even have to meet with a live person anymore!

That brings us to the bad part of technology and wealth.

The Bad

Technology has not only brought wealth, it has robbed us of wealth in many of the following ways as well:

  • We don’t feel our purchases as much because we hardly ever use cash
  • We are forgetting how things are made or grown because we can have it delivered as a finished product nearly instantly
  • We have forgotten how long it takes to make something of quality by hand
  • We have made almost everything disposable and we are subsequently turning a significant part of our land into landfills for the disposed items
  • We are forgetting how to interact as human beings:
    • We socialize via social apps like Facebook and Snapchat
    • We date in a virtual dating room online, only occasionally meeting face to face
    • Some have noted the decline in sexual intimacy due to the availability of pornography or the fantasy of virtual relationships
    • Marriages are falling apart due to lack of communication – helped in part by the distractions of technology
  • We constantly fuel our fears and anxieties by watching the non-stop stream of negatively that is considered news today
    • We are panicked by predictions of economic meltdowns every 3 months
    • We are terrified of our neighbors who are potential terrorists or child molesters
    • We rely on small bits of unsubstantiated news to shape our worldview instead of taking the time to think and analyze for ourselves

David Byrne stated this beautifully in a recent article called Eliminating the Human, in the MIT Technology Review journal (thanks to Tim Ferriss for sharing this in his #5BulletFriday email):

“I’m not saying that many of these tools, apps, and other technologies are not hugely convenient. But in a sense, they run counter to who we are as human beings.”

The Ugly

And then there is the downright ugliness of technology and its negative impact on our ability to achieve and realize wealth.

Technology has given humanity the means with which to destroy itself.  Weapons of mass destruction, the ecological impact of rampant hybridization of plants and irresponsible research on medications and disease.  Not that it is all irresponsible, but when the bottom line dictates when it is ready, shortcuts are bound to be taken and mistakes made.

While technology has given us the tools to help humanity and our planet, it has also long been the cause of massive pollution, exploitation of natural resources, as well as many of the new strains of disease which we are now battling.

We can’t go back and change these things or undo them, but we can reflect on them long enough to understand there is a better way, a more human way.

Conclusion

The good news is it is not the end of the world just yet.

If our perspective remains as one focused on the well being of others, the way we use and interact with technology will be for all our benefit, and the wealth we build will not only serve us but the rest of the world as well.

Community Connectedness and Social Capital

“Community connectedness is not just about warm fuzzy tales of civic triumph.  In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference in our lives…Social capital makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy.”

– Robert D. Putnam

Wealth, Relationships and Community

Wealth is difficult to achieve on any level apart from healthy relationships.  Likewise community is difficult to achieve apart from healthy relationships.  Thus, it might be posited that real wealth can only be achieved in the context of real community.

What do I mean by that?   Let’s take a look at relationships and community first, then wrap up with how real wealth is found within the context of healthy community.

Relationships

Relationships for our purposes here are defined as close, personal, individual connections.

Each of us, hopefully, have several of these kinds of connections  – with our family members, our friends, our teammates, teachers, mentors, coworkers, etc.  (You are probably starting to see how relationships lead to community – but we’ll discuss that more in a moment).

In these relationships, some closer than others, transactions are always occurring.  Maybe you’ve never thought about it that way.  Some even call it social capital.

When we interact with each other we are giving and taking.  Sometimes it is tangible, like a sales transaction, but much of the time it is intangible, like trust, love, commitment, security, and on and on.

If I do something that violates trust in a relationship, like gossiping about something shared in confidence, I have taken trust away from the relationship and will need to take action to repair or repay that trust if I want to restore the relationship.  I might do this through a sincere apology, and if I had enough trust built up in the relationship (social capital), that is all it might take to restore it.  If the relationship was just starting, the apology, even if accepted, may not be enough to keep the relationship from ending.

We must be careful in how we handle our relationships.  Unfortunately, our societal obsession with credit and borrowing has infiltrated our relationships, causing us to take, take, take and seldom give.  Constant taking in relationships leaves us devoid of relationship in the end, and makes it nearly impossible for us to be part of a community.

If we learn to give in our relationships, we find that we receive back what we need without having to take at all.  When enough of us do this well in our relationships, communities are created.

Now let’s take a closer look at community.

Community

Like relationships above, communities operate on social capital.  When one community violates the trust of another community, mistrust and division arise.  Not only between communities but within them as well.

Communities can be based on many different types of relationships: geographical, social, religious, political, and even things like sports teams, causes, and crime.

Some communities, like geographical ones, are made up of smaller communities that are made up of relationships between individuals. These smaller communities transact with others within the larger community, and may even fight or dislike each other, but when dealing with another larger community from a different geographic area, they tend to put aside differences and put on the unified face of the larger community.

For example, Boston and New York City are rivals in many ways – each thinks it’s city is nicer, it’s sports teams are better, and even make and sell merchandise that say things like Yankees Suck.  While these rivalries may sometimes get a bit out of hand, they also tend to serve as a way to glue each community together.

But rivalries are set aside in a moment when a larger threat appears, like the attacks on 9/11.  Rescue workers from Boston mobilized without hesitation to go to the aid of their brothers and sisters in New York, temporarily setting aside rivalries, and acting as part of a larger community as even more rescue workers and support poured in from across the country, and even the globe.

Those rivalries still exist today, but they have been forever altered by these events, solidifying the bonds of the larger community, which creates a safe place for healthy rivalries to exist.

Unfortunately communities can also tear apart and destroy, both the relationships that make them up, and the bonds of larger communities they are a part of.

Think of the violence erupting during recent protests across our nation.  Geographical communities suffer collateral damage when outside communities show up to wage war in their streets.  These outside communities even manage to divide the host geographical community when it ought to be bonding together to protect itself from harm.

The thought that there are individuals within or outside these communities who use relationships to agitate these communities to violence against each other is reprehensible, and left unchecked will rob our nation blind of the wealth of community we have worked so long to build.

Wealth

There is a simple truth in the saying, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”  From relationships to communities, division within will eventually lead to destruction.

Marriage offers a good example of how relationships interact with wealth, both positively and negatively.  Proverbs 31 paints a picture of a prosperous relationship, and while written from the perspective of a husband and his wife, it can easily be read from any relationship perspective, including business partners:

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value. (vs. 10-11)

This relationship is built on trust  – did you see it?  “Has full confidence…and lacks nothing of value.”  A relationship like this will last through thick and thin, and will ultimately achieve the wealthy they seek, however they might define it for themselves.  It is a good indication that they will achieve at least some level of financial wealth as well.

On the other hand, without this trust, marriages and partnerships soon fall apart.  Two of the leading causes for divorce in the United States are lack of communication and fights over money.

Lack of communication robs a relationship of trust, and eventually leads to money fights and other problems.  Remember the house divided?  Without good communication a relationship will become divided and eventually fall.  Without good communication a relationship cannot build wealth, as there is a lack of confidence in each other.

Likewise, when communities come together and communicate well,working together they will prosper and build wealth in multiple ways.  And when communities refuse to listen to each other and resort to violence, all suffer, and wealth begins to erode along with the bonds that hold us together.

Conclusion

Choose to invest in relationships and in community, and wealth will seek you out;  choose to invest in wealth alone, and you will find yourself at last, alone.

Wealth and Health

Wealth and health is a huge topic – something I realized after writing several variations of this post.

There is so much to delve into here, wherever you might be on the wealth/health matrix, and I hope I can offer something of value to each.

Full disclosure: although I have had some health issues in my life, they have been temporary, and at the time, thankfully, easily treatable with few if any lasting side effects due in part to excellent health care and living in a country with access to some of the best surgeons and medical practitioners in the world.

All told, I have been blessed all my life with extraordinary health, and I have learned to not take that lightly.

God has allowed me to suffer just enough to empathize with others who are suffering.  It is hard to understand a few days of pain, let alone a lifetime, without experiencing pain oneself.  I also realized that my attitude toward both health and wealth have a tremendous impact on my overall contentment.

I have encountered people who use ill health as an excuse as well as those who, though suffering, exude great joy and empathy.  Some of them struggle with finances while others have more than sufficient financial resources, and not necessarily in the same order.

The Health/Wealth Matrix

So what does health have to do with wealth?   Let’s take a look at the four quadrants of the health/wealth matrix below, where wealth in this instance represents financial wealth.

 

Quadrant 1: High Health Low Wealth

Be grateful you are healthy.  Learn to be content just being healthy.  Use your good health to your advantage and work hard.  In this way you can grow your wealth, but take care not to sacrifice your health to get there.

Your main focus in this quadrant is to be content with just being healthy, doing what you need to do to maintain your health and working consistently to improve your wealth.

Quadrant 2: Low Health Low Wealth

This is not a fun place to be for sure.  However, I do have something to offer.  Be grateful for what you do have and stop worrying about what you don’t have.  Practice gratitude.  Anxiety unchecked only exacerbates poor health.

Your main focus in this quadrant is to improve your health by consistently practicing gratitude and following the directives of your health care providers while learning to be content with the wealth you do have.  Focus on health first, then when health moves from low to high move to the quadrant above.

Quadrant 3: Low Health High Wealth

While this is not a fun place to be either, wealth can certainly make it more comfortable.  Like the quadrant above, those in this quadrant also benefit from practicing gratitude, and checking anxiety levels.  Whereas anxiety above may have been caused by not having enough, anxiety in this quadrant may come from fear of losing it all.

Your main focus in this quadrant again is to improve your health by practicing gratitude and following the advice of health care providers while holding your wealth loosely.  Be grateful you have the wealth to pay for the care you are receiving and be content to lose wealth to gain health.  You can always build wealth again.

Quadrant 4: High Health High Wealth

Congratulations.  You are in a small percentile of people on this earth who are in an enjoyable but precarious position.  One, you are the target of envy of many people in the other three quadrants.  Two, you are highly susceptible to lose your wealth out of greed or ambition, or your health from lack of self control or feeling of invincibility.  If not careful you could quickly and easily lose it all.  You also have a great responsibility.

Your main focus in this quadrant is to be grateful everyday for the gifts you have been given, and to give consistently of your wealth and self to help others:

  • Give time as mentors to those in Quadrant 1 to raise them up to Quadrant 4 so they can then follow in your footsteps
  • Give of your time and wealth to those in Quadrant 2 to encourage them and provide a greater level of comfort and care to boost them into Quadrant 1
  • Give of your time to those in Quadrant 3 to not only encourage them but help them preserve as much wealth as possible, protecting them from those who would take advantage of their poor health to rob them blind.

Conclusion

Health is more important than financial wealth.  Whether you are currently healthy or suffering from temporary or chronic poor health, be grateful that you are alive, practice gratitude for what you have and kindness toward each other, remembering there are others out there who are also suffering, and no matter what state you are in, you always have the power to encourage and bless others.  That is wealth.

Wealth and Spirituality

It was more difficult than I thought it would be to write this particular post in this series on wealth.  So I decided to start with a simple question.

How do I define spirituality?

Okay, not so simple.  It’s a word that means many different things to many different people.

For the purpose of this blog post I will define it this way:  Spirituality encompasses our morals and ethics, our capacity to love others as we love ourselves, our sense of justice and mercy, the level to which we are able to discern good from bad, the generosity, gratitude and grace we give, and a willingness to let everything go.

As I have mentioned in past posts, wealth is not just about money or material possessions, but also about being content.

Spirituality is tied to contentment and shapes how we interact with material wealth.  Material wealth and the allure of possessing more and more can negatively impact our spiritual health and contentment, but only if we become spiritually lazy.

Spiritual health is like physical health – it takes exercise and training to maintain.  More money and more possessions vie for our focus and time.  We start to worry about whether it is enough, where we can get more, how easy it might be to lose it all, where to store it all, and how to keep track of it all.  Over time we become more self focused and wary of those around us.  Are they trying to get at my stuff?  We even start to call close friendships into question while we make poor choices in new ones.

Yuck.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Spiritual health leads to contentment, and contentment is the key to true wealth.

Contentment is the ability to let things go.  Possessions as well as fears, ideologies, grudges, dreams and on and on.  I have only just begun to experience being content, but with practice it allows us to go places and experience things that we never would have otherwise.

Being content leads to a growing desire to live simply (this does not mean poorly!) letting go of the need for more stuff simply because it is shiny and available and everyone else has one (according to the advertisers).

Living simply means living on less, and as a result leaving more to save.  More to save means, you guessed it, more to build wealth and share.

Those most content in life have what they need, are satisfied with what they have in any circumstance, and enjoy sharing what they have with others.  They are not burdened by any of their possessions.  The few possessions they have are chosen because of the joy they bring.

Tend to your spirituality – it is like a garden, untended it grows wild with weeds and becomes ugly and overgrown, while properly tended it not only provides nourishment but beauty as well.

 

 

Wealth and Emotions

Out of curiosity I often type the titles of my posts into Google search just to see what pops up.  Type “wealth and emotions,” into Google Search or click the link for a glimpse of the wide range of posts published on this topic.

Whether you like it or not your emotions – and how well you understand and account for them – have a huge impact on your capacity to build wealth.

Investing Your Emotions

Most great investors would tell you when they keep their emotions in check they almost never lose and almost always lose when they allow their emotions to rule the day.

It gets even better – all of us deal with emotions differently and are more prone to certain types of emotions than others.  For some of us anger is the dominant emotion while for others it is fear, shame, or even happiness and joy.  How we interact with these emotions – whether from a place of stress or a place of stability – can either hinder us or help us in our efforts to build wealth.

Consider the recession induced by the sub prime mortgage crisis of 2008.  Or the the dot com bubble bursting in 2000-2001.  The markets declined rapidly and left many investors watching their portfolios slide down the seemingly endless slope.  Individual investors as well as seasoned fund managers panicked and let fear spur them on to sell, sell, sell!

At exactly the wrong time.

When the market is going down you want to buy, not sell.  Selling on the way down is how you lose wealth.

The fear incited by watching stock indexes plummet causes normally rational people to forget everything they know about how the market works.

Seasoned investors and most savvy individual investors understand the market will eventually start climbing again and in relatively short time surpass market levels prior to the crash or recession.  Over the history of the stock market, the market has always grown.

The key is to diversify your investments, stick to a process for selecting, buying and selling, and sit tight during the storm, possible looking for opportunities to buy more shares of solid mutual funds or index funds at a discount price.  Remember when the market is down, shares are generally cheaper, and thus you can purchase more shares for your investment dollars and benefit from the returns when the market swings back up.

If you invested in one or two risky single stocks and the companies are about to implode, you probably want to sell as quickly as possible and contemplate the lessons to be learned while licking your wounds.  If this is you, I almost guarantee you bought those stock based on emotions and not on solid research with evidence of long term growth potential.

Emotional Wealth

I tend to be methodical and rational in my investment choices and leave things pretty much alone.  My advantage here is that I am a highly rational person who by nature does not tend to make big decisions based on emotions.  I tend to do the opposite in an emotional state; I simply make no decisions at all.  This is not necessarily a good thing.

When I am in a place of stress, I tend to withdraw from relationships and hold on tightly to liquid funds and possessions.  I make choices based on a fear of not having enough or being seen as cheap by my friends when I ask for a separate check.  If I don’t think I have enough to split the bill evenly, I will avoid the outing altogether.

The crazy thing is that this fear is often irrational and dare I say selfish.  Oh, and then pride steps in and refuses to accept charity when all my friends want is to be gracious and generous out of the love in their hearts.

Earlier this year I started new daily practice of short meditation followed by a brief daily journal right after my daily scripture reading.  The meditation allows me to practice awareness and clear my thoughts, and the morning journal exercise gives me an opportunity to set the course of my day.

In my journal I include the scripture I have read, three things I am grateful for, location, weather and emotional state, concluding with random thoughts such as what I need to do that day, things that I am wrestling with, or that kept creeping into my meditation.

Starting the day being grateful and taking time to take stock of where I am emotionally has had a huge impact on my ability to stay balanced.

No matter what we do, we all fall prey to our emotions and all become overwhelmed at times.  The idea is not to avoid our emotions, but to learn how to embrace them well and give them space to take their course without bankrupting us financially or emotionally.

Hey, ever heard the phrase “emotionally bankrupt?”  Google it.

 

Wealth & Personality

When I first thought of this particular blog post I had no idea what kind of image I would find to accompany it.  When I entered in a few key search words in Adobe Spark, numerous images of colored pencils came up.

Before I get into the meat of today’s post, I want to share something with you.  As a child, and even now and again in my adult years, I loved drawing.  Especially with pencil.  It just had a texture and feel that I loved.  Then I took an art class my senior year in high school and fell in love with colored pencils.  I created my personal masterpiece (okay, I consider it the best art piece I have ever done) in that class with colored pencil.

So searching for an appropriate image, these colored pencil images really stuck out because regardless of which colors I might like the best, I needed all of them, and sometimes even found new favorites.  The real fun started when I realized I could use several colors and blend them in sequence to match the colors I saw in front of me.

The picture you see with this post was perfect…not only did it show different colored pencils which could represent different personality types, it also featured a flower tucked between two of the pencils that I felt represented those personalities that have to be just a little different, who embrace life full on and whom we love to have in our lives (even if they aren’t the best with finances).  And thus we blend.

You may have guessed what this post is about if you’ve been following me for any length of time.

It’s about how our unique personalities influence our interaction with finances and wealth.

Most of us realized at an early age that some people were better at math than others, including ourselves (I admit this even with a BS in Mathematics).  At some point we also realized that some people were better with finances than others.  And they weren’t always the Math nerds (or the business majors).

So this post is about how personality drives our interaction with money and wealth more than intellect ever will.

We are all very different people, with different personalities, different personal tastes, and certainly different backgrounds.  What makes us think, then, that we will all encounter and deal with money the same way?

In the American culture we are brought up and educated that we are all individuals who can be whatever we want to be.  This is a lie.  Not that we cannot achieve what we seek to achieve, but not all of us are cut out to be astronauts, or FBI agents, or accountants, or computer programmers, or even entrepreneurs!

I would like to believe I am an entrepreneur, but I have had to deal with the fact that while I have entrepreneurial leanings, I am not an entrepreneur in the true sense.   I know because I am close friends with a few of them, and we are so different in many ways.

What I have figured out is that I complement true entrepreneurs because I easily grasp where they are going and can build the initial infrastructure to support them, although I would likely have analyzed the idea for years without ever acting on it if left to my own device.

But on to personalities – there are so many beautiful and crucial differences between us as humans.  Some of us are very serious about finances and spending categories and sticking to a budget, while others see finances merely as means to an end, not worried about going broke if we have experienced a memory of a lifetime.

I for one have struggled my entire life with this and am still learning to let go and simply accept when friends suggest last minute once in a lifetime adventures.  I have turned down numerous opportunities that many of my friends would have given me the money to experience.

My personality type tends toward self-sacrifice before asking friends, even to the point of extremes (thankfully, I am gradually learning how to accept the generosity of friends – not an easy task for my personality type).

I ought to at least talk about my personality type.  I am an INTJ on the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey Temperament Sorter and a 5 with a 4 wing on the Enneagram.  On the DISC profile I am a C with a strong S and dominantly C under stress.  In general terms I am an extremely introverted, very rational, process oriented individual who is also creative and fairly in tune with his emotions and understands how personalities interact on a primarily intellectual level – the emotional content is mostly understood through observation, study and knowledge of types.  (The links here are only suggestions and are not affiliate links – there are many places you can take the tests for free for initial findings – I do recommend paying for at least one of them as the paid results are often more enlightening).

So I happen to be decent at math and really good at a personal finances and how people interact with money.  But I desperately need friends to drag me out to experience things that I would never do on my own.  So a balance is always needed in dealing with money – save for the future without missing the opportunities to enjoy the present.

As this topic is quickly outpacing the length of most of my posts, I will draw things to a close here with a final thought, and an invitation for comments if you would like more on this topic.  I am only at the beginning of my understanding of how each personality type interacts with money and finances, but am willing to educate myself as needed to answer the call if there is further interest.

Final thought for this post:

You are who you are.  If you are terrible with money, you need someone in your life who is good with money.  If you are great with money, and maybe a little like me, you need people in your life who know how to live and experience life.

Sometimes they pick up the tab.  Sometimes you should.  Just don’t die rolling pennies alone.

 

Wealth and Knowledge

Many of you might believe wealthy people all have high IQs, or all people with high IQs are really wealthy (or ought to be).  What might surprise you is how many regular people just like you are are wealthy.

IQ is not a determining factor in one’s ability to acquire wealth.

In fact, acquiring and maintaining wealth has very little to do with head knowledge, and much more to do with behavior.  Disciplined behavior trumps a know-it-all every time.

Smart people regularly do stupid things with money and wealth, often losing everything.  Why?  Because they fool themselves into believing they are smarter than the market and everyone else, and there is no way they can lose.  More often there is no way they will win.

Yes, there are some rare individuals who are smart and disciplined and hit the jackpot, but they are extremely rare, and would be the first to admit they are guessing 80% of the time and working overtime to reduce the impact of the inevitable downside.

Knowledge

The most brilliant person in the world can live their entire life as a pauper.  Book smarts and head smarts are not effective for obtaining wealth on their own without action and calculated risk.

Knowledge can puff people up in their own minds and make them overconfident, taking action without calculating the risk, or it can cause analysis paralysis, calculating risk to the nth degree and taking action too late or never at all.

Knowledge is good, and it helps to be smart, but you don’t have to be a genius to become wealthy.

Behavior

Dave Ramsey, creator of Financial Peace University and best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover, talks about personal finances as being 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior.  Even if you aren’t a math major, you’d probably agree you could do more with $80 than with $20.  Four times as much.  Sometimes I just like to show of my math skills.

If there is any truth to this percentage split, then why on earth would we put so much emphasis on what we think we know instead of what we do?

Can anyone become wealthy (legally, you criminals) without saving at least some of their hard earned income?

Oh, of course, win the lottery.  Sure, they get a huge amount of money all at once, but it rarely makes them wealthy.  A quick online search turned up several articles citing the National Endowment for Financial Education as reporting 70% of windfall recipients end up broke.

70% is a lot closer to 80% than 20% if you catch my drift.  If you read the myriad articles about why lottery winners go broke, it’s pretty much all about their behavior.

Consider the following scenarios:

  1. Bob is a regular guy working hard to earn a decent income.  Bob decides at age 20 to save $100 a month for retirement and continues to do so until he reaches age 66, yielding an average 10% annual rate of return.
  2. Sam is also a regular guy working hard to earn a decent income.  Sam, however, has a plan.  At 20 years of age Sam starts spending $25 a week or $100 per month on lottery tickets, dreaming of that day when he’ll win the jackpot.  Of course, Sam wins sometimes, but breaking even is a long shot at best.  The odds are actually stacked against him ever breaking even. Yet he continues to play the lottery until he reaches age 66, and let’s say he hits a long shot and breaks even.

Can you guess which one retires wealthy?  Yep, it’s Bob.  Every time.

Bob invests a total $56,400 over 47 years and ends up with $1,151,000 in his retirement account at age 66.

If Sam breaks even, he ends up with the $56,400 he spent on lottery tickets and won back.

I like Bob’s way better, even if Sam hits the Jackpot.  Bob has built wealth through behavior and discipline and is not likely to lose his wealth.  Sam, however, has not developed the discipline or behaviors to use money wisely, and odds are he will lose everything long before he is ready to shuffle off this mortal coil.

Conclusion

Let the smart people take all the chances and risk losing everything while you stay disciplined and retire wealthy.

 

 

Wealth and Money

Wealth and Money

When most of us think of someone wealthy we think of Hollywood starts or billionaire CEOs. The reason we think of them first is the illusion of how much money we think we know they have.

I say illusion because many of those we consider wealthy, are wealthy on paper only, meaning that most of their perceived wealth is tied up in real estate, stock valuations, or future royalties.

Some of those we consider wealthy actually ARE financially wealthy, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, but many of them are not.  Think about how many pro athletes, music stars and movie stars end their careers and lives nearly broke.

So what is the relationship between wealth and money?

Money

Money is currency.   Money is whatever we are willing to accept in return for supplying goods and services.  Money can be paper or coin as we know it in the modern world, or Money can be livestock, potable water, real estate, stocks in a company, or a service in kind of some sort.

Money changes forms as often as it changes hands.

Acquiring money is not the same as acquiring wealth.  Wealth is a much broader and more complex concept than money.  Wealth far surpasses money as a concept.

Wealth

When we finally grasp what wealth really is, the entire universe opens up to us.  When we separate money from wealth, we open ourselves to areas of wealth we might never have contemplated:

  • Wealth of knowledge
  • Wealth of relationships
  • Wealth of integrity
  • Wealth of morality
  • Wealth of wisdom
  • Wealth of experience
  • Wealth of inspiration

We can find wealth in whatever we do and wherever we are.  It is up to us to perceive it as wealth.

If we are merely looking for money, a paycheck, then true wealth will always elude us.

True wealth comes when we focus on what we can contribute.