A member of my extended family is approaching retirement in the next three to five years. Lately, I have been working with him to prepare his investments for the time when he will depend on them for his source of income. He works in health services and is able to save large amounts each year. As we work together, I realized that people probably never stop worrying about money. People who have money simply worry about different issues than people who don’t have money.
I sometimes work with people who have just enough money. When I talk with them about their finances, I hear about things they would like to be able to do, but can’t. I often hear about traveling or buying a new car or doing renovations on the house. People who can’t afford to do these things generally understand what the trade-off is. They would rather have enough investments to produce their income without worrying about running out of money. Even people who are at risk of running out of money, who are spending down the capital by age 90, not expecting to live that long, say that it would be nice to have more, but they’re doing okay with what they have.
People who don’t have much money, but wish they did, are simply asking to trade one set of troubles for another set of troubles. People who have money also have troubles. They worry about whether their assets are being managed properly. They worry about how much they are paying for professional investment, tax and legal advice. They worry about minimizing the taxes they owe. They worry about people trying to steal from them or defraud them. They worry about how to help those less fortunate. They worry about false friends asking for handouts. They even worry about spoiling their children.
It’s simply not possible to say: “Of those two sets of troubles, I’d rather have too much money.” Take, for example, lottery winners. It seems that many of them start with too little money, and are suddenly granted an exchange of their troubles. When they suddenly have too much money, they unwittingly trade one set of trouble for another. And it is not uncommon to see newspaper articles describing lottery winners who have slipped back into “too little money” troubles after time.
Envy goes both ways. People who suffer, will suffer no matter their circumstances. Wishing for more money is simply a desire to exchange “poor person’s suffering” for “rich person’s suffering”. I firmly believe that we all have the right amount of money for us, at the time. If it’s important to me to have more money, I’ll dream and think and plan and try and work toward getting more money. And as I do, I will slowly but surely learn to handle and manage the troubles that come along with having that amount of money. As I move up through too little, just right, more than enough and too much, I expect to develop abilities in managing the responsibilities that come along with it.
What money troubles do you have? Do you find having money comes with its own set of troubles? What lessons or skills have you learned from managing money?