We Are Not All In The Same Boat
First, this article sadly doesn’t apply to everyone. There are many people in this country, in this world, who cannot conceive of being rich and that truly do not know where their next meal is coming from, how they are going to feed their families, clothe their children, or how they can keep a roof over their heads.
My heart reaches out to them. I don’t know what the solution is to lift them permanently out of the destitution of abject poverty. It seems like there should be some way, but it is a problem that has haunted humans forever. Maybe someday there will be a utopian solution for everyone.
But for the rest of us, let’s talk about the good life of being rich and what it takes to get there.
Suppose through exceptional talent, effort, and luck, you make it to the NFL. You’ve got it made for life, right? The average NFL career only lasts 3.3 years. During that time you’ll gross on the average a little over 6 million bucks. You’re rich!
Except that by the time taxes are paid and your agent takes his cut and all the little incidental expenses hit the bank account, you end up with maybe $3 million if you are really careful. You’re rich!
Except that statistics show that 85% are broke within 3 years after the end of their football careers. Are football players just miserable money managers?
Take a look at the countless stories of the lottery winners that in a couple of years are flat broke. They too were once rich.
Being Rich: How To Get There
So what does it take to get rich and more importantly, to stay rich? How big of bank balance do you need? These days, a million bucks doesn’t go far. Maybe ten million? A hundred million? A billion?
Why do we really want to be rich? Is it for all the goodies we can buy; to have more toys than the grown up little kids down the street? To see your name on the Fortune list?
If we truly want to enjoy being rich, we need to do it for the right reason. We need to be seeking “financial security.”
Let’s take a look at our NFL player and see how that could happen. If the $3 million were put in a mutual fund at 10% after taxes and fees and nothing was withdrawn, by the time he reached 85, the account would be worth $913,444,919 – almost a billion. Would he be rich? Well – he’d die rich, but he’d need a job to support him for 60 years.
OK, same situation, but he takes out the maximum he can each year so that at 85 the account is down to zero. That works out to $300,898 year after year and that’s after tax. With that, you can’t buy multiple McMansions, exotic cars, private jets, and yachts, can’t hit the high stakes tables at the casinos, can’t even get the best seats at the strip joints, but most people could live pretty well on $300K a year take home. And yet, three years later 85% of the ex-NFL’ers are broke.
Not Millions, BILLIONS
Forget the NFL and a few measly millions. Let’s say you are a “captain of industry” and the company you founded is soaring on the stock market and billions are the world you live in. Maybe that makes you rich, but ask Martha Stewart about how that works. Tyco CEO Dennis Kolzowski had $6,000 shower curtains, but what’s he got now?
The list goes on and on: Hank Greenberg with AIG, Charles Keating and Lincoln Savings and Loan, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling of Enron, John Rigas of Adelphia, Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom, and Richard Scrushy of HealthSouth, just to name a few. Were all of these people rich? Or were they obsessed with money and worried about it day and night – desperate enough for money that all of their ethics collapsed, along with their empires?
Need VS Want
Financial Security means you have all the money you need, not all the money you want. You can always find something else you can’t afford to buy, but that’s not going to make you rich. Never having to worry about money makes you rich. Not worrying about money isn’t a dollar amount, it’s an attitude of how to manage your money.
By most of today’s standards, I wouldn’t be considered rich by a long shot. But, on the first of each month, I spend an hour scheduling payments to cover all my expenses and pay off my credit cards, and then I don’t think about money until the next month. Before the virus forced me into solitary confinement, I didn’t have to worry about going out for a meal or anything else I was likely to do. I knew I could cover it. I don’t buy anything I don’t need. There are some things I wouldn’t mind having, but I mind a lot more trying to figure out how to pay for them.
If you want to be rich, really and truly rich, quit squandering your money and your sanity on things you don’t need. Work out a budget and payment schedule and get your credit cards to where you pay them off each month. Finish paying off your vehicles and don’t buy another until you need to. If you can chip in a few extra bucks each month on your mortgage, it can takes years off the payout.
Houses overlooking the ocean at Malibu, penthouses above Central Park, a yacht parked in front of your house at Fisher Island, a villa in the South of France, and a jet to get you back and forth will not make you rich. Sound financial discipline, no matter what your income level, is the ONLY thing that will make you rich enough to where you never have to worry about money.