“America is like the people's republic of spring break, everyone is in pursuit of happiness and not fulfilment.”
Bobcat Goldthwait? You are quoting Bobcat Goldthwait in a piece about wealth building? To answer my two self-posed questions, yes and yes.
Some may remember Bobcat Goldthwait as an out there, some might say controversial, comedian. Others may remember him for his work as an actor. I am not particularly familiar with his work. However, when I recently watched a podcast of him being interviewed, his statement, which I quoted above, immediately hit home with me.
How do many of us attempt to pursue happiness? We try to buy it. And, unfortunately, many of us attempt to buy happiness for our children too. Of course, you cannot buy happiness. Now, please do not misunderstand what I am saying. This is not some kind of anti-money rant, far from it. So, please bear with me.
The reality is, without enough money, we are likely to be miserable. We need money, in sufficient quantities, to eat good, quality food, to live in safe, nice neighborhoods, to afford a good level of healthcare, to send our children to good schools and to retire comfortably. Money is very important. Let’s not kid ourselves here.
However, we live in a world where certain marketers have, wittingly or unwittingly, made it their life’s mission to get us to buy things that in the scheme of things do little to make us happier. For example, how many of us have gotten sucked into the trap of thinking that if we are earning more money we need to upgrade the car we are driving, simply because we are at a new income level?
This, of course, does not pertain simply to cars. I fear too many of us feel the need to purchase goods and services that purport to be more exclusive, simply because we have access to more money. In fact, I believe this often happens to people simply because they have greater access to consumer lines of credit.
How much happier has anyone really become by “upgrading” from a nice late model car to a brand new super luxury model? How many of us really have found joy by buying neckties or handbags selling for multiples of the nice things we already possess? Often, we get sucked into this vortex of greater and greater spending because we have been inculcated into believing that somehow, spending more money will make us happier. Some marketers have convinced us of that quite well.
Again, I am not anti-money, just the opposite. I am anti wasting money. I am anti believing that by simply spending more on things, we will be happier. The reality is that we need to build a solid base of wealth so that we might pursue our joy, whatever that is. If we are deprived of good food, or a home in a safe, clean neighborhood, or quality medical care, or if we are faced with significantly downgrading our lifestyle in retirement, or if we always feel financially insecure, it will be hard for us to achieve happiness.
Most importantly, we might want to reflect on the notion that happiness, true happiness, flows from fulfillment. How do we achieve fulfillment? Fulfillment comes from working at achieving our full potential. This comes from creating things, doing things, making things. And the more that the things we create, do and make, positively affect the lives of others, the more fulfilled we become. This state of fulfillment leads to us being happy.
Based on my own experiences, as well as discussions I have had with some of my family, my friends and my clients, here are some observations:
Working to maximize our potential as human beings leads to fulfillment.
Fulfillment is the path to true happiness.
Not having sufficient money can make us very unhappy.
Upgrading our lifestyle, simply so that we can have bragging rights about something we own, is not likely to make us happy. We will be caught up in a web of forever having to upgrade something, so that we can proclaim our supposed importance to the world, once again. This is a wealth zapping, unfulfilling vicious cycle.
On the other hand, wealth building can be very fulfilling. It can create a sense of security for ourselves and our families so that we may work on maximizing our potential. If we are forever caught up worrying about having money, it is difficult to work towards self-actualization.
Creating something, including wealth – brought about by making money based on helping others – can be very fulfilling and in turn, put us in a position to work on maximizing our potential and becoming even more fulfilled. This is a victorious cycle.
In the novel, The Mosquito Coast, written by Paul Theroux, the character of Allie Fox says,
"We eat when we’re not hungry, drink when we’re not thirsty, buy what we don’t need, and throw away everything that’s useful. Don’t sell a man what he wants—sell him what he doesn’t want. Pretend he’s got eight feet and two stomachs and money to burn. That’s not illogical—it’s evil."
Allie left the country with his family to escape, among other things, the ills of rampant consumerism. We do not need to do that. We are blessed, in many ways, to live in a nation that, compared to so many other countries, allows us the opportunity to pursue our dreams.
We can do better for our families, our country and ourselves, right here, by making a stand and working to lead fulfilling lives. Part of that is developing an appropriate wealth building plan, which can create freedom for ourselves and our families, so that we might seek fulfillment.
Create a plan to build wealth and then, work your plan. You might want to discuss your plan with a qualified financial services professional. Take action now. You will be glad you did.
Scott R. McGimpsey November 29th, 2017
This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources, however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Summit Brokerage Services Inc. nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionally services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market. UNIFIED PLANNING GROUP is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC