Create Wealth that Matters

Morning Mists by Evgeni DinevThe following post is a contribution from MyMoneyDesign.com, a blog that is all about figuring out how to make your money work for you so that you can spend your time the way you want.

Often I’ve asked my readers the question of how to create wealth.  It seems to come across as a pretty straight-forward question with the usual responses: save your money, spend less, invest, leverage the benefits of your IRA vs 401k retirement plans, and try to maximize both, etc.

But sometimes in our irreconcilable goal of wealth creation, we forget about all the reasons why we wanted to become rich in the first place.  We forget about what money really means and what it can do for us.  We forget that it is really just a tool for getting what we want, and not the true prize at the end.

Every now and again I forget this simple lesson myself.  But this week, I was lucky enough to receive a reminder.

A Funeral Service:

A friend of mine at work had his father pass away.  I didn’t know who he was, but I knew it would mean a lot to my friend to attend the service.  So I did.

It was a beautiful service in a very small town.  It seemed as if everyone who had ever known this man was there.   One by one, each person walked up to the microphone to share their memories of the deceased.  They told their stories about his antics and practical jokes.  At times it felt more like a comedy show than a funeral, and it was great.

As I sat there (and for a while afterwards), it made me wonder:

  • What good times and hilarious stories would people share about me after I pass on?
  • Would I have touched so many people in the same way?
  • Did I matter?

The Goal to Create Wealth, But Not the Purpose:

I think one of the dangers in our pursuit to create wealth is being so focused on the end result that we ignore everything along the way to get there.  By that, I mean this: for me, becoming rich was never about having more stuff or more money.  It was always about not NEEDING to work 16 hours a day to make ends meet so that I could spend my time the way I want to.

So what if you’ve got a successful career?  So what if you have a million dollars?  Did you ignore your spouse, kids, and friends along the way?  Do they remember you always working and never having time for them?  Was everything else more important while your real life and real priorities were just slipping by?

Too Close for Comfort:

Perhaps one of the things that really bugged me about this whole thing was the fact that the deceased wasn’t really that much older than me; by less than 10 years.  He was just a guy working at a job probably expecting to one day retire and enjoy the children of his children.

Sound too familiar?  It does to me.  Here I am constantly scheming the best way to build my wealth, plan for retirement, and live out the rest of my life.  But what if I never get to experience the fruits of my labor?

To that, all I can say is that I’m not a person to live in fear.  I live my life as if I am going to reach age 100.  But this also reminds me to be prepared.  My wealth accounts all have beneficiaries.  My wife and I have plenty of term life insurance (as opposed to expensive and unnecessary permanent life insurance).  And the most important thing: I make sure I get in “my time” each day with my family.

I make sure that I limit the time I spend on work, myself, chores, and even my blog, and I do what matters.  I listen to my wife.  I ask the kids about their day.  I want to make sure that I matter to them, and that they know that they mattered to me.  That is how I plan to create wealth, and that’s the only wealth that matters.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tonya

Tonya is a video editor and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball and running. To get the latest updates, be sure to subscribe. Check out her sister site Healthy, Fit, and Frugal.

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  • http://twitter.com/CanadianBudgetB CanadianBudgetBinder

    Well said mate. You are right that we can make all the money in the world each month but none of that matters if 99% of the day is consumed with making money. In the moment it sounds nice to flush out big numbers and it takes hard work to make money but when is enough is enough. If life is more about making money and forgetting loved ones, friends and family money means nothing when they are gone. I could work more hours if I want and crank in big bucks but I choose not to. I married my wife so I could spend time with her, create memories and I don’t need loads of money to do it. Having our financial plan in order is great but going overboard to sacrifice our commitment isn’t worth it. Some people do get divorced because money become obsessive and they want to earn more and more and forget about the real world. Sadly it’s those moments where we think about life such as the funeral that we realize what we have been overlooking. A fan of mine tonight said of her mother… You can’t skype heaven… once they are gone, they are gone.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      Exactly! A lot of times we get so caught up in the “make money game” that we forget why we started playing it in the first place. Our priorities get all mixed up and the most unfortunate of us end up losing everything and realizing this all too late. I’m never glad to attend a funeral, but if there is anything I can take away, its that life is too short to waste it on things that don’t matter.

  • http://www.youngadultmoney.com/ DC @ Young Adult Money

    Great post and a great reminder that we need to concentrate on the things that are important in life. We can’t just chase money our whole life and “one day” hope to enjoy our life.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      Ironically I think that when people do chase money their whole life, that’s all they ever know or want to do. Its just like how people who get stuck working in a job where they put in 80 hours a week. Some of them never really ever recover or re-learn how to relax. Money is just a tool, not the real prize at the end of the race.

  • holly

    Oh, I can totally relate to this. Since I work at a mortuary, I am often wondering about what my funeral will be like, etc. Luckily, we are all here and alive and there is time to live the life that we want to live before its too late.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      Holly – I’m finding out all kinds of things about you. A mortuary? It sounds grim, but someone has to work there, right? :)

      Regardless, I’m sure you wonder about the deceased who have virtually no one show up at their wake / showing. What a sad end, isn’t it? The last thing I want to do is disappear without ever having left a positive mark on anyone or anything.

  • http://twitter.com/RFIndependence Pauline

    great post MMD, leaving millions behind won’t help you live a full life. I value time more than money but it is because I can afford to, the money I make covers for my basic needs. This is a luxury many don’t have, either because they have too many “needs” or too low an income. You can change both and live that kind of live, increasing your level of happiness as well.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      Thanks Pauline. You are very lucky to figure out so soon in life and make your adjustments now. I am a firm believer that if you truly want things to change bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen. Being in control of my own destiny makes me feel a lot happier about where I’m going.

  • http://twitter.com/SavvyFinLatina SavvyFinancialLatina

    Wow I think our thoughts are on the same wavelength. I received notice that one of my acquaintances passed this week. I was extremely surprised. This man was so young, so energetic, and happy. He just died in his early 50s. Scary!
    I know as a pf blogger I tend to concentrate a lot on my personal and financial goals. This puts things in perspective. I have to remember it’s not a race.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      PF bloggers tend to get waaay to caught up in their own goals (myself included) because we don’t want to feel like “fakes” or that we’re not living up to our own advice. I’ve really tried to strive to put most of my financial efforts into auto-pilot so that I can passively spot check them and let them be without a lot of interaction from myself. For example, one of the reasons I like my latest stock picking strategy is because I only buy stocks once a year and they are already somewhat pre-picked out for me. This cuts down on a ton of time I used to waste researching, planning, and watching my picks. Now I’ve got that time for me.

  • http://twitter.com/TheHeavyPurse Shannon Ryan

    Great post! It’s so easy to get caught up in accumulating money that we forget the things that matter most. My days are busy but most nights we cook and eat our meal together and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Our family time is so important to me, because they are why I work so hard but I never want to so hard that I forget to enjoy time with my family. That time is precious and fleeting. I think a lot about the legacy I want to leave behind too. It’s one of the reasons I started The Heavy Purse. I want to be remembered as a loving daughter, wife, sister, mother and friend but also as one of the voices that helped changed how we think about money.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      Thanks!

      Thinking about your legacy is another topic I plan to write a whole other post about. When you think about how you want to go down in the history books of other people’s memories, it really changes how you think about your priorities and goals. I’m also trying to shape my blog to lead to something bigger; something that will touch more people than I ever could have possibly done so in my normal life.

  • http://elleseesandsays.wordpress.com/ Lisa @ Elle Sees

    I think there are two points of “caution” in your post — one, not to spend your whole life earning money to “one day” enjoy, but also, not to go overboard while trying to build your savings (for early retirement, etc). You never know what tomorrow will bring, so make sure you’re enjoying yourself a bit right now (in addition to getting your financial life in order for the future). Balance in all things, right?

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      Yes, I hope to not deter anyone from saving for retirement or whatever financial goals you have. By all means – you should still plan your finances like you’re going to live until you’re 100. But seek a balance. People get so caught up in the pursuit of money that they forget about today and the things that really matter to them (mostly the people who love them). The worst thing ever would be to finally get rich and old only to have everyone you ever loved gone, moved away, or indifferent to you. This whole experience was a reminder to me never to let that happen.

  • alwayshungry4

    Great post and I couldn’t agree more! I love the “wealth” I have with my loved ones, and financial wealth would just be icing on the cake in life. :)

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      If things are good with those you love, then there’s nothing wrong with a little financial bliss to make it that much better.

  • http://www.thenorwegiangirl.com/ The Norwegian Girl

    Such a great read! I completely agree. I would love to have financial freedom, but I don´t want to lose out on the important things in life, and also I don`t need that much to live on either, so my idea of having enough money might be quite different from others.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      There are definitely some trade offs. For me, I’m all about trying to scheme different ways to make money that won’t require my direct involvement. I see this as my ticket to one day spend as much time as I want with my wife, kids, and more.

  • Erika Newlyweds

    AGREE 100000% Sometimes I get so disheartened by reading personal finance blogs because it sounds like the less fun you have and the more debt you pay off, the better. I know people might disagree with the fact that I set aside $500 every month for vacation (from extra side job income, not regular job take-home pay) rather than throwing it toward debt, but I refuse to not live in the NOW just because I have student loans. Sometimes we have to remember to find a balance.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      I absolutely LOVE vacations! Some of my favorite times and best memories with my family were on exotic vacations. And I know the same goes for my kids because they talk about them all year long. I would venture to say that a well planned vacation is an “investment” in your family time :)

      Pooh on not spending any money to have fun. I know exactly what you mean about some PF blogs. It’s a little bit like trying to go on a diet and only eating 300 calories a day – It’s just not going to work. It’s all good to pay off your debt. But I will always advocate that you need to live a little while you do it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  • http://twitter.com/Thefrugalpath The Frugal Path

    You’re right. Saving money is important. However, what matters is what we do with our lives. Money is a tool that can allow you to achieve these goals, but in the end what matters is our memories and the connections that we’ve made to others.

    • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

      It all comes back to the fact that we can’t take it with us when we die. No one will care how rich you were or how much money you had when you passed on. They will just remember what you meant to them and how you made them feel. And all that is happening now, so now is the time to take advantage of it while we can.

  • hiuc

    Recently I was REALLY low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills!! I’m so glad, I did this! – nize