As an advisor to families, individuals and businesses for many years, I’ve been inspired by these tips, all of which have stood the test of time.
1. Shakespeare wisely declared that “the world’s a stage”. As such, it pays to work from a script. But, like many have done, it is okay to go off script once in a while, and improvise.
It is always good to set goals and create a plan for achieving them. In your plan, try to remember that not everything is in our control. Things like prosperity, wealth and poverty are not always correlated to the choices we make. They may be influenced by our choices, but sometimes they’re not. Or they may be partially influenced by our choices as well as many other variables. Try not to underestimate the role of chance in life as it applies to you, and others.
Things such as religion, lineage, countries and even the generation we’re born into can play a significant role in the outcome of our lives. For some, these things are stepping stones and for others, they can be roadblocks and hurdles to overcome. Too often, we forget these undeniable realities of who we are and as well as the struggle of others.
While the rewards of hard work often do lead to success, what about the fact that not all success is a result of hard work? What about the fact that not all poverty and failure is due to laziness or other negative labels we ascribe to ourselves, and others? Be kind.
I can tell you with great certainty that a career or a job with flexible hours and a short commute never gets old.
2. A great benefit of having money is gaining the ability to control time and make the most of it.
The ability to do what you want, when you want and with whom you want, creates a lasting sense of happiness that no amount of “stuff” will ever outweigh.
There is no denying the enjoyment of owning expensive stuff. For many, the thrill of buying and owning these things never gets old and there is never enough. But stuff is not stability and it’s not long term happiness. I can tell you with great certainty that a career or a job with flexible hours and a short commute will never get old. Having enough savings and liquidity to give you time and options during an emergency (think Covid-19) never gets old.
Being able to retire on your schedule is one of life’s great luxuries, for some. We tend to work towards some previous ideal that retirement is a virtue in and of itself. For some, it may be. Is a typical retirement a healthy decision for everyone? Perhaps it is not. Many people love what they do and wouldn’t consider retiring at an arbitrary, predetermined date.
3. It’s easy to spoil our children, easier with grandchildren.
Working with many families throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to see a few that seem to effortlessly produce children with fantastic values. It’s not all luck and genes, that’s for sure. They’ve taught their children well and they tend to make the tough choices. For example, it’s difficult to completely grasp the value of a dollar without earning your own and experiencing its scarcity.
Teaching children they can’t have everything seems to be the best way for them to learn and understand the difference between “I need” and “I want“. This, in turn, teaches them about budgeting, saving, and knowing the value of what they have and what they want. Delayed gratification is painful to learn and equally as painful to teach.
Another wonderful lesson for young children is learning to appreciate frugality — within reason. It is an essential life skill that pays off during life’s inevitable ups and downs.
4. Financial success doesn’t always come from big moves.
Managing money successfully is a long game and it requires long term strategy. You don’t have to hit home runs all the time to end up ahead – not screwing up too often just as important in the end. Like I tell my clients, “you must avoid losses in retirement because you can’t replenish”. Avoiding catastrophic investment mistakes will keep you on track. Not burying yourself in debt, is another good pitfall to avoid.
5. Live within your means.
The ability to live within your means is powerful financial discipline, because you’ll have less stress when other things go south, like income or investment returns. How much you make doesn’t determine how much you have, and how much you have doesn’t determine how much you need.
6. A changing and open mind is healthy; be flexible.
During your lifetime, it’s okay for your values and goals to evolve. Thinking about your first college major is a good example of how our goals can change during our lifetime. Allowing yourself to change your mind is a superpower, when you’re young and when you’re older.
7. Everything has a price.
The price of a career is time. The time spent to develop a career usually comes from friends, family and other relationships. The price of inactivity is poor health later in life. The price of spoiling kids is setting them up to live a disappointing and sheltered life.
Everything worthwhile has a price and that payment can often come due much later. Most things we want are worth it, but we should know their price and never ignore their true costs. Once we accept the true cost of things, we begin to view relationships, autonomy and creativity with greater value.
8. Money is not the greatest measure of success.
Money doesn’t provide the things you want most. No amount of money can bring your perfect spouse, good character, contentment and empathy towards others. In fact, in retirement, the amount of guaranteed lifetime income is the true measure of success and security, not the amount of one’s assets. ROI in retirement means Reliability of Income.
9. Don’t blindly accept all advice you’re given (unless it’s mine).
Many of these lessons are things people often look back and say they wish they had learned them earlier in life. We are unique and no one has all the right answers. Never take anyone’s advice without reflecting upon your own values, goals and life experiences.
10. The Concept of tzedakah, or being charitable.
The great thing about the Hebrew word tzedakah is that it means “righteousness” as well as charitable. Being charitable creates a sense of righteousness from within. When we are acting charitably, we should gain self-esteem. I can not imagine a scenario in which the world does not benefit from acts of tzedakah and that is something every one of us can do a little more of. Charity is manifested in endless ways. For some, using their wealth is how they wish to be charitable. For others, money has nothing to do with it.
Please call me at 561-869-4500 or email me, Ted Bernstein, about a complimentary consultation.