Do you want to know one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to growing your money? Remember to enjoy it! Or at least some of it.
I know this advice is a bit counterintuitive to all of the work-save-invest habits that seem to be the logical course for accumulating wealth. But the truth is that building up a large investment fortune is a long-term venture — a very long one at that.
A select few people can accomplish enjoying their money with almost mechanical precision. But for us mere mortals (which is close to all of us), there has to be a more balanced approach. Otherwise, we may never make it.
Unless you are also enjoying the fruits of your investment efforts along the way, you could tire of the chase and fail long before you reach the finish line. You have undoubtedly heard of career burnout; well investor burnout is just as real.
Don’t Be the Richest Man in the Graveyard
Have you ever known someone who likely worked themselves into the grave? It’s quite literally possible. You can cut your life short by being singularly focused on your work and on becoming wealthy.
If you retire with $10 million at age 65, it will have been close to a wasted effort if you arrive in poor health and having missed so many of the rich experiences that make life worth living. It will be downright tragic if you never live long enough to enjoy the money you so diligently accumulated.
On the way to building your fortune, never forget that you’re mortal and that life can be cut short at any time. A big pile of money is no guarantee of a long and happy life.
Money is Just a Tool
A happy life is the true goal of most people. But since money is a commodity that can enable happiness, the focus of life can often shift from achieving happiness, to accumulating an ever larger pile of money. There may even be the misguided notion that happiness will be in proportion to the amount of money you have saved.
While it is always important to have respect for what money can do, it’s just as important to recognize what it can’t do.
Money will not be the source of your happiness — it will simply be one of the tools you use to help you find it. It can provide a certain amount security, increase your independence and buy you a few fun things, but real happiness comes from being content with what you have.
As investors, that understanding should never be too far from our minds.
Have Fun Spending Your Hard-Earned Money
Though it may seem counterintuitive, it is downright critical that you enjoy at least some of your money, especially as it grows. If you are meeting your investment goals, and especially if you’re exceeding them, it is perfectly okay and absolutely healthy to take some off the table and use it to enjoy your life.
It’s fine to have investment goals, but if you are not enjoying at least some of your success along the way, then you are back-loading all of the benefits of investment success on a future that can never be guaranteed.
Enjoy this Journey Called Life
Do you remember Ebenezer Scrooge, from the Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol”? Scrooge was a fictional example of a man who put his faith in money to the exclusion of all else. Only at an old age did he come to realize that despite his wealth, his entire life had in reality been a living hell.
Having no friends, no family relationships, no wife or children and none of the experiences that make life worth living. Scrooge came face-to-face with the prospect of his own death.
His money could not save his life. The time that he lost accumulating wealth could not be reclaimed in exchange for a better life.
Yes, this is just a story, but it’s also a warning. Any one of us can get caught up in the great money chase! All you have to do is come to believe that money is the measure of all things. And it’s even easier to do when you’re successful at accumulating it.
Always look at your life beyond money. Life is about the people you’re involved with, the experiences that you enjoy and personal growth that should never end at any time in your life. No matter how much money you have, or how much you hope to have, always make it a point to enjoy your money along the way — at least some of it.
The short story The Station gives us a glimpse of how easy it is to miss the journey of life while chasing our ultimate desired destination. Whether that destination is a certain investment portfolio size or any other goal in life.
By Robert J. Hastings
TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We’re traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination–for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
“Yes, when we reach the station, that will be it!” we promise ourselves. “When we’re eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!”
From that day on we will all live happily ever after.
Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The station is an illusion–it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday’s a memory, tomorrow’s a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday’s a fading sunset, tomorrow’s a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.
So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.