“Your Money or Your Life” and no I am not referring to the book by Joe Dominguez with Vicki Robin. I am referring to the fact that some people (make that many people) put money as their No. 1 priority in life. No doubt money is important and accumulating wealth is natural. However for many people, it has become the sole reason for waking up in the morning. Why is that?
Is that what people aim for in life, to amass as much wealth as possible? Money has its many uses such as affording lots of people the freedom to retire early and to travel extensively. How about living a life of luxury and being able to cater to your every whim and fancy? Is this your personal goal too?
Before you say “yes”, just think for a moment that if you have a child, would you teach your child to pursue the same goals? Or would you emphasize a different set of values? Values such as appreciating the simple things in life, not to be wasteful, not to take things for granted and that human relationship is also important? Would you teach your child to pursue money goals to the exclusion of everything else?
The answer is no as you would teach and emphasize that money is just a means to an end. There is more to life than just focusing totally on building wealth. Think for a second, is this what you are doing in your own life? I find it hard to imagine why a person would have this total fixation or single-minded pursuit on money. I am not even referring to a struggling person but to the rich who just can’t seem to have enough. This brings to mind of a wealthy and ambitious man I met a few years ago.
He owned a construction company that was doing quite well. If I was not mistaken, he was in his early 60s. His company was doing well and there were a few projects in-hand. In his case, he was fortunate to have a politician as a friend to back him up. Even though his company was doing well, I did not see him treating his employees well. It probably did not occur to him that the success of the company was largely due to the support from the employees.
His children were all grown up with one son helping him with the business. He lived alone as he was estranged from his wife and his other children all lived abroad. From what I observed, he led a lonely life and his main interest was in running his business and churning out more profit. One thing was for sure and that was he did not need more money as he was already well-off. A year later of meeting him, I saw his obituary in the local newspaper. His death happened suddenly and I had the feeling that he would have wanted his life to be different if he knew that he had only one more year to live.
This incident brought home the point that everyone will die one day and whatever wealth he or she has amassed will be left behind. A person who spends his entire life amassing wealth could not run away from death nor could he bring his wealth with him when he dies.
So, the message is you can pursue wealth but not to the exclusion of other important things in life such as your family and other life goals. You have to ask yourself whether pursuing wealth is the single most important goal you have in your life or is it one of many important life goals. Be mindful of how you steer your life so that you do not end up like the man described above. I am sure that none of you would desire that kind of life that is a lonely life.
Jacquelyn is the co-author of “Teaching Your Kids About Money” with KC Lau. Jacquelyn is the pseudonym used by Amy Sipagal.