The 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.
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