My investment guy summoned me for our annual meeting this week. We talked about interest rates, tax exemptions and other subjects tangentially related to finance. I’ve saved some money over my lifetime; my parents left me some; and if the British and Bermuda Governments survive, I’ll be in receipt of a small but welcome pension.
I explained to my man that, from a financial perspective, I was therefore content with the prospect of my retirement. Smug, I know. But years of hard work and deferred pleasure have probably left me with enough to tide me through the twilight years. My adviser was satisfied that his client would not end up in the gutter (assuming Putin doesn’t start World War III). I explained how pleased that made me.
My adviser felt the need to temper my enthusiasm. “You’re not rich,” he said.
He’s wrong. I am rich. Not by the standards of some Russian oligarch who feels he needs Rolex watches, Aston Martins and fabulous Botoxed babes with fake everything to make up for the fact that he stole the money in the first place. Nor am I rich by the standards of George Soros (who, at 83, has recently babed up) or banking executives who routinely take home half a million dollars a year for being truly bad at their jobs.
I’m rich by my own standards. The things I need don’t cost much. My shelter is paid for. My food doesn’t cost that much in the grand scheme of things. My transportation is composed of a free bus pass and an occasional train ticket. The things I want cost little, because I’m happy to read, walk, surf the Internet and generally amuse myself. Oh, and twerking, of course, which I do on the hour every hour. Whistle while you twerk, I always say.
On top of that, I have a good investment manager. One of Woody Allen’s characters in A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy says: “I’m an investment manager. I manage other people’s money until there’s nothing left”. Mine’s better than that. Crucially, I understand the ‘investment horizon’. That’s financial talk for not wanting to get my hands on the bulk of my investments for a few years, giving them time to do their thing.
I also, today, have my health and the time to enjoy it. No man or woman is poor who has health, money and time, as I keep saying.
It dawned on me years ago that just about every very rich person I knew had compromised the enjoyment of life for the accumulation of money. I also learned that every poor person I knew spent most of the time wishing to be rich. Neither is a satisfactory approach to life.
This is: be grateful for what you have; shoot for happiness; consider the true cost of the things you’ve persuaded yourself you want; and don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
There you go: the secret of life, for free. You’re welcome.