WHAT WEALTH REALLY IS

 

Lou Scatigna

When people build wealth, they can become myopic. As they acquire more money, their vision can narrow and they can lose sight of everything else, especially the bigger picture. They can become so involved in getting rich that all they think about is making money and it’s all they want to do.

So they devote their time to building fortunes, which take away from other aspects of their lives. They become obsessive and spend less time at home with their families. When they’re home, they’re disconnected — their minds are somewhere else. Financially, they prosper, but their families suffer. Their children often have problems, become resentful and act out.

Although they work tirelessly and earn lots of money, many never truly enjoy the fruits of their success. Sooner or later, something crashes and they can’t understand why it happened to them.

DIAGNOSIS 

It’s easy to get diverted. You can be moving smoothly on course, when something suddenly intervenes and before you know it you’re headed in a new and different direction, not where you intended to go. Money frequently has that affect. When it enters the picture, it can throw everything off track.

Passion can also be a problem. When you want something deeply, you may go after it with all your heart. You focus on your objective, let nothing stand in your way and devote yourself to reaching your goals. Passion is a great motivator and the most successful people tend to be zealous. Their passion is contagious and attracts followers and supporters.

However, passion can also be blinding. When you are immersed in your passions, you may not be able to see clearly. You miss what is obvious to others, even when it is right before your eyes.

Making money can stir our passion. Once you start making it, it can be addictive, you can’t get enough. You can get lost in the process and intoxicated by success. Your new status, lifestyle, and all you can do, buy and be can be mesmerizing. So you can lose track of your original objectives — why you wanted to build wealth. Your need to make money can take over and everything else can get pushed aside.

Wealth is measured by how well you live, not by how much you have. Living like a pauper when you have a seven figure estate is not being wealthy

VITAL SIGNS 

Why do we try to build financial health? We all have different reasons, but for me it’s to enjoy life, be happy, fulfilled and do the things I like. By making myself financially fit, I’ve been able to take good care of my family, eat well, travel and help others. I’ve also been able to build a retirement fund that will enable us to live comfortably in retirement.

I never consider spending money on a good meal, travel or charity to be a waste. We need to eat well to be fit and happy. Travel broadens our minds, teaches us understanding and realigns our perspective. It also gives us priceless memories. Charity is helping others and sharing my good fortune with those in need. Being charitable is an honor and privilege; it’s one of great gifts that comes with wealth.

I work hard, but I also make it a point to enjoy my life. I don’t want to be the richest corpse in the cemetery. At the end of my life, I don’t want to regret that I didn’t spend more time with my family, help others and do what was most important to me.

I’ve worked with too many wealthy clients who lived frugally all the time. Most of them were miserable. Although they had no reason to worry about money, they constantly did. Worrying about money can really bring you down and ruin your physical health. It can color everything in your life. These clients were obsessed with building their wealth, hoarding it and rarely spending it. They seldom enjoyed it. As soon as they died, their children swooped in, gobbled up their money and spent it wastefully.

Two clear examples of people who don’t really know what wealth is are those who:

  • Work hard, save and invest, but don’t enjoy their lives. Making money is everything to them. They have enough money to live happily, but won’t spend it. Their lives are out of balance.
  • Build nest eggs so they can live comfortably when they retire, but when they do, they don’t spend what they amassed. They continue being thrifty, penny-wise when they can afford to ease up because they’re afraid that they won’t have enough.

TREATMENT    

The reward for living a financially healthy and responsible lifestyle when you’re young is being able to enjoy yourself during your final years of life. Make the most of your wealth in the following ways:

1. As you build your financial health, enjoy it. Reward yourself for working hard, sacrificing and living responsibly. Don’t be extravagant and throw your money away, but find a happy balance between building wealth and enjoying some of what your success can buy.

Don’t put off enjoying life until you retire. You may never reach that point. Spend time with your family while they’re still living at home. Your time and experiences together will forge strong bonds and memories that they will pass on to their kids.

2. Invest your time in what is most important to you. Time is frequently more important than money, especially when you can spend it with your family and friends and doing what you love.

3. When you retire, do what you couldn’t do when you were younger, things that you might not have been able to afford or take the time to do. Since you worked so hard to build for your future, remember that your future has finally arrived. So take care of yourself and live a good life.

4. Set examples that you would like your children to follow, show them how it’s done.

A. Give your children and grandchildren the legacy of financial health. Children tend to follow their parents’ example: when parents are financially responsible, their children usually also are. When parents are financially irresponsible, their children usually follow suit.

B. Also show your children how to enjoy balanced lives. Let them see your example of how to build wealth and enjoy their lives while they’re building it.

5. Show your children the nobility work. Working is fulfilling, gratifying and builds the confidence, pride and drive that breeds success. Put your children in situations where they can succeed and enjoy experience and the rewards of their labor. Start with small tasks and build to those that are larger and involve more responsibility. Clearly show them what to do and be sure to compliment and thank them when they do it well.

6. Understand the danger of easy money. When young people come into money that they didn’t work hard to earn, it can have a destructive effect. Many lottery winners, athletes or young inheritors go right through the funds they receive. Within five to ten years, many are broke because the never learned learn money management skills. However, when they earn money by working hard, sacrificing and being financial responsible, it means more to them so they protect and spend it more responsibly.

7. Many people like to see their money being enjoyed. So they give during their lifetimes. Giving to charity or to your responsible children is an excellent idea; it’s wonderful to help. Unfortunately, many people place strings on their gifts, which often creates major problems. They get into a huff if a charity doesn’t apply their donation as they wished and insist that their children do as they say.

If you give money to your children, I think you are entitled to give them some financial wisdom. For example, if you give them money for a down payment on a home, I see no problem with your telling them not to get an adjustable rate mortgage. However, I don’t feel that you should tell them how to spend their money or try to micromanage them.

MY RX

Money is nothing but potential until it’s converted to items such as food, shelter, travel and charity. A $100 bill is just a small piece of paper until we use it to buy what we want or need. Plan ahead. Decide what you want most, what’s of the greatest importance to you, and when you can afford it, think about buying or doing it.

When people retire they often make two common mistakes: (1) believing that their retirement fund should continue to grow and (2) that they can live exclusively on their interest and not dip into their principal. Sorry, neither of these beliefs tend to be true. These misconceptions force people force to cut back on their standard of living, often drastically.

During our lifetime, we save and invest for retirement, but many of us are afraid to use the funds we accumulated. We only want to spend the interest but avoid touching the principal for fear of running out of money. Remember the squirrel. He gathered acorns in the fall and ate them during those barren winter months. Unlike the squirrel, many of us try to preserve or even grow our nest eggs when we retire.

Strike a happy balance. Dip into as much principle as you can without using it up, severely chopping your income or feeling guilty. Retirement funds should be spent during your retirement — so enjoy your golden years.

I constantly tell my radio audience and my clients that (1) you can’t take your money with you when you die and (2) enjoy the money you worked hard to accumulate over the course of your life.

It’s hard to control how your survivors will deal with your money. Regardless of how many restrictions or requirements you create, your survivors will usually do what they want as soon as they get their hands on your money. The best way to control the disposition of your assets is not through controls, but by setting good examples. By having solid values that your survivors will adopt and emulate.

 

Comments

  1. Great article. I do believe there are many people who have wealth, and then don’t enjoy it. However, at the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of people without wealth, who live frivolously on credit cards, through bankruptcy, etc.,

    It’s a matter of finding a balance.

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