Is getting money more trouble than it’s worth? Reader Y. B. writes with the following comments and question:
“As a new subscriber to the Markets and Money Australia I have read little of your content.
Anyway, I have a question, which may seem odd and/or offensive, but it’s not meant to be offensive so please don’t take it that way. I just can help but wonder ‘why’?
“Not ‘why in general,’ but why this strive [sic] for personal wealth through investment?
“I mean, I can understand that we all want a good life and part of that requires looking after ourselves financially, but the whole world of capital investment, financial gains and personal wealth creation leaves me feeling empty and devoid of anything good. That is why I have started working (after years serious consideration about what I want from life and what is good, if ‘good’ even exists) with philanthropists to develop and implement community development projects.
“Anyway, I’m rambling but the point is I wondered if you ever produce articles that have a bit of an ethical or philosophical slant on what is the ultimate end to investment, and if there is one besides greed.
“I realise greed is an ugly word, but I’m just trying to understand the whole thing and think you/your publication could provide some valuable insight. I not [sic] anti-capitalist as such, as I’m currently working with capitalists to redress inequalities and ‘share the wealth’ with those less fortunate. I’m also really interested in the idea of ethical investments, and perhaps devising some sort of framework to which entities can comply to be considered, or even accredited, as an ‘ethical investment choice’. In short, while I believe capitalist structures may be responsible for a significant amount of poverty and inequality around the world, I also believe it can offer a myriad of solutions to such problems.
“Has there been much written on this? Do you have any thoughts or does your publication have a stance on this sort of thing? Any thoughts would be appreciated, even criticisms, but I do appreciate that you’re probably quite busy so I won’t be offended if you cannot reply or just aren’t interested. So far the DR sounds interesting, fresh and well-written, which is why I was inspired to send this email.”
An inspired question.
Why do people try and make money investing? We can’t answer for people, only for ourselves. Money doesn’t necessarily make you happier. We were pretty happy when we didn’t have any to worry about, not that we wouldn’t mind the additional worry right now. Whether money helps people live more meaningful lives is beyond the scope of our knowledge here at the Old Hat Factory.
What we think we do know is that money can help you achieve a little more independence from the misfortunes of life. That doesn’t mean people with money no longer get in car accidents or need root canals. It does mean, however, that the accumulation of wealth gives you a degree of freedom and independence and security from matters which are otherwise out of your control.
We can’t do anything to prevent George Bush from bombing Iran. But we can save up for a rainy day. We can’t call Ben Bernanke to tell him what a villain he’s become, but we can store our wealth in assets not controlled by men who serve the banks of the world. And we can’t do anything about the epidemic of debt that’s spread through the Western World, but we can avoid it and grow our wealth in other ways.
All of the things you can do to grow your wealth and keep it help improve the security of you and your family in a world where not much else is in your control. Wealth expands your range of choices and opportunities. And it provides you with something to fall back on in hard times. Wealth and personal freedom have a long and profitable relationship with one another. Indeed, you could argue one is not possible without the other.
Money alone will not get you into Heaven or help you sleep at night. It’s not useful in that respect. But it is useful and practical, and therefore worth your careful consideration.
More than anything, how and whether you accumulate wealth is something you can actually influence. People spend far too much time having opinions about things which ultimately they can’t affect. Meanwhile, they neglect cultivating the useful habits that would have a real effect in their everyday lives.
But that’s just our two cents.
If you have your own response, please leave a comment below.
Markets and Money