News flash: money won’t solve all of your problems and doesn’t make you happy.
I remember reading an essay by Oscar Wilde when I was a teenager. It was called The Soul of Man Under Socialism.
Wilde argued that wealth can actually be a root of problems. Owning vast amounts of property, for example, can cause a headache, as “property not merely has duties, but has so many duties that its possession to any large extent is a bore.”
I believe that Oscar Wilde’s quote can be framed for any situation. The word ‘property’ can be substituted for ‘wealth’, or indeed any material object.
Society seems to think that wealth makes you happy, but forgets about the duties (or management) of wealth, and the hassle this can cause.
The money equals happiness equation is a problem in the FIRE community too, and I think there is a misinterpretation that once your goal amount is reached, life will be perfect.
Wealth doesn’t make you happy
You probably read the first section, got to the bit where I said that management of wealth can cause its owner hassle, and scratched your head. “I wouldn’t mind the hassle that comes from being rich!”
Of course, wealth will remove some worry. You won’t have concerns each month about how you will make ends meet, or where your next meal will come from. A hand-to-mouth existence is clearly less desirable than having a stack of cash under the mattress.
However, wealth – true wealth – does come with its own problems, and isn’t a magic end to all of your life’s worries.
Say you own a dozen or so real estate properties. Each month, you’ll be looking to collect rent from your tenants, and will constantly be at the end of the phone answering complaints about broken boilers and leaking pipes.
Or you own a £1m portfolio of individual stocks. You’ll always be reading trading updates, watching the stock tickers and reading the news, ready to sell before the rest of the market does.
Be rich, be happy
Wealth, then, won’t make you happy, but it might remove some worry.
As people heading for financial independence, we want to build wealth. But for our own well-being, I think the best idea is to do this in the laziest way possible to lessen the duties of wealth.
There is no point reaching financial independence, and not having the time or energy to enjoy it because of the administration required to maintain your wealth. We should be focusing on how to get value from our lives, and not on money. We need to put family, friendships and hobbies before wealth. This is what makes us truly happy.
We need to remove the hassle that comes from owning a large amount of money.
How can we do this?
I think there are a couple of ways.
The Lazy Way to Financial Independence
Personally, I invest in index funds. Apart from some money in an emergency fund, I am completely invested in Vanguard’s LifeStrategy 100% Equity Fund.
The fund is mostly invested in worldwide index funds, and therefore it is intrinsically linked to the global economy.
For me, the benefit of investing in this way is that I have set up a regular payment which goes straight into the fund. I check on how my holdings are doing each month, but apart from that, the process is stress free.
The other way to remove the hassle out of wealth is to have it tied into something you get value from.
If you enjoy stock picking, and you’re successful at it, then the duties of ownership will not be a burden. This is the same with real estate, or owning a business.
Wealth won’t make you happy, but it can certainly remove worries and enable you to have the time free time to prioritise life’s pleasures.
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***The information contained herein does not constitute financial or other professional advice and is general in nature.