The Verus Team

What makes you wealthy?

Written by: George Shirley.  Any opinions are those of George Shirley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

During a meeting with a client a number of years ago, I was discussing the impact of possible rising interest rates on his portfolio and what allocation would likely hold its value better.  After delivering my thoroughly reasoned recommendation, he sighed and said he really wasn’t all that interested in the numbers and said that he was inclined to take whatever advice I would propose on his investments.  He then told me that he had been on a recent trip and on the way home on the airplane, he felt extremely fortunate for the education he had received, the people he had known and the places he had been.   There was a contentedness in his voice that I don’t always hear in the meetings that I have.  This was someone who was not at all wealthy in the traditional sense of net worth.  And my firm had been passing accounts of this level to a call center “to better serve his financial needs.”      But this was a person that I genuinely enjoyed working with (the most important determination in whether to do business with someone in my opinion).   The ease with which he approached his spending choices would rival anyone and it got me thinking, what makes you wealthy?    

This was someone who lived for experiences with people, travel, and lifetime learning.   Focusing on these areas brought him far more gratification than any things or more stuff might bring him.  And he seemed completely at ease with himself and the decisions that he had made.   He was extremely thoughtful in planning out how he would spend his time.  Many people that I work with have a multiple of this gentlemen’s net worth, but not as many have the serenity that comes from aligning your spending with what you truly value.  It made me consider which people are truly wealthy, the ones with the large investment account, or the ones whose values are aligned with their finances and who spend their time accordingly.

There is certainly a base level of assets and income required to comfortably meet your living expenses, but after that how you choose to spend your money and your time need to be in synch to truly benefit from the investment portfolio.     The conversation that day has stayed with me, many years later as I seek to guide people and organizations through the complicated work of personal finance.  I concluded that being wealthy is really a state of mind, more than a number---something we should all remember when we prioritize our spending of money and spending of time.     

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