Do you want to build wealth… or do you want to have fancy stuff?
It’s a tough question.
It’s one many Americans are grappling with. And most don’t even know it.
But there’s a simple answer… and a way to have both.
We took a break yesterday to go have coffee with a good friend. We talked about our families, business, freedom and his neighbors.
“These people have huge incomes,” he said. “But they’re broke. I mean like zero money broke.”
He told of a heart surgeon… who couldn’t write a check until payday.
He told of a new pool owner… who will be paying for his new playground for the next six years.
And, of course, there’s the big house down the street… with no furniture in it.
We’ve all seen the stories. And we all know these kinds of folks.
But my friend made a mistake – it’s a common one.
A Different View
“These folks have no financial literacy,” he said. “It’s insane how ignorant they are with their money.”
Oh sure, they’re ignorant. A bit of Know-How could go a long way in the average middle-class American neighborhood.
But it’s not a lack of financial literacy that’s bringing these folks down. A heart surgeon certainly knows better.
What’s killing these folks is a culture that’s gone insane.
As always… this has everything to do with our Triad.
The results of a recent study out of the University of Minnesota are no surprise. That’s where Dr. Kathleen Vohs took two groups of students and put them in opposite “cultural” corners.
One group was conditioned to focus on building wealth and getting new things, while the other was given a more neutral bias.
She watched what happened.
The wealth seekers were, dare we say it, jerks.
They were less likely to help when help was needed. They gave less to charity. They worked by themselves. And they formed fewer relationships.
Money and community don’t mix, Vohs concluded, because they require two fundamentally different motivational systems.
Sound familiar? It’s a slice of our modern culture.
We’ve all heard about the “emergency” when it comes to student loans. Politicians are making headlines by promising to toss out even more free money.
But perhaps they should be handing out earrings, bracelets and fancy shoes. That’s because more money is spent on fashion accessories each year in America than on college tuition.
The nightly news doesn’t tell you that – after all, they’ve got ad spots to fill.
And there are plenty of eyeballs watching those ads. Despite the fact that nearly half of American households don’t have a penny saved for later… there are more TVs in America than people.
Overall, the data shows that Americans today purchase twice as much material goods as we did 50 years ago.
And, again, it all leads to less charitable spending and an overall lack of community.
During last year’s Black Friday sales weekend, Americans spent roughly $90 billion… in just a few days.
Meanwhile, during an entire year’s worth of giving, churches in this country get roughly half that figure.
Just 1.9% of the average American’s income goes to charitable causes.
Clearly, we put money first.
Money, Money Everywhere… but Not a Dime to Spend
But if that’s the case… why are so many folks so damned broke?
Is it financial literacy? Nah.
That’s part of the problem, for sure.
But these folks aren’t broke because they don’t know the difference between alpha and beta. They’re not in credit card debt out the wazoo because they don’t know what a P/E ratio reveals.
Nope. They’re broke because that’s the choice they made.
They’re chasing money… not the Liberty that comes with it.
They’d rather look rich… than be rich.
Our culture is sick that way.
We say there’s nothing wrong with yearning to get rich. We’re certainly proud of what we’ve created.
And, yes, the quicker it’s done, the better.
But we didn’t get here by driving flashy (leased) cars… doing laps in our (financed) pool… or ordering fancy (marked up) wine at dinner.
We’ll gladly show you how to get all of that stuff.
But first put down the TV remote… put the credit cards in the trash… and stop caring about what the neighbor is driving.
Focus on building Liberty… not building a fancy closet.
Follow that mantra and you’ll soon have more money than you ever thought possible.