Four Questions About Growing Financial Wealth

Do you ever feel you are behind? That you don’t have enough? That you might run out?

What to do?

Make vague feelings real by writing down some specifics.

Then get to work.


ONE => Is this a Reference Set issue?

If I spend time in Aspen then my “needs” escalate, and my self-assessment “declines.”

Same deal in Boulder, but it’s from a fitness point of view.

Others might have vanity triggers in places like LA, or on Instagram!

Feelings are sensitive to environment. The same life, done somewhere else, will be different.

Feelings of envy, fear and anxiety are sensitive to images – careful with environment, turn off cable news, get off Facebook/Instagram.

++

TWO => Is this a Skills issue?

A 35 yo surgeon with $250,000 of education debt, is in a different position than most. The surgeon is likely to earn themselves into financial security.

  • Where does my current job track lead?
  • Do I need retraining?
  • Armed with additional skills, it is easier to move up the income ladder?
  • Do I need to do the same job for a higher bidder?
  • What is the market rate for my skill set?

++

THREE => Is this a Spending issue?

It’s not always spending… but sometimes it is, particularly when spending isn’t generating satisfaction.

If you have the skills & the salary, but are left feeling uneasy, then a family financial review can make sense.

These discussions are HIGHLY emotional. I recommend a skilled facilitator.

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FOUR => Is this a Time Horizon issue?

Back to the surgeon… highly skilled, employed, spending under control… the situation is going to play out just fine.

  • Pay down debt
  • Keep spending in check
  • Conservative monthly investment program

15 years along, the family is in a strong position. They had doubts, I did not.


I was asked, what would I have done?

Starting over at 40 yo

Core Job matches my highest paying skill set. Medicine, tech, finance, aviation… track into something that pays well.

The Core Job enables me to borrow long for a Core Investment. Buy real estate in a zip code with great public schools and a diverse local economy.

Secondary Job in an area of personal interest. It’s what many do with coaching/consulting.

Side Projects with Equity Upside. I would be looking for opportunities to invest (primarily time) in situations with financial upside. Do enough of these and something is likely to hit.

One new skill each year – coding, online marketing, blogging, video content, copywriting, language, ministry, education, graphic design, photography… stacked across a decade… powerful.

  1. Core Job
  2. Secondary Job
  3. Equity Upside
  4. Continuous Learning and Skill Acquisition

I have a friend, who did all of the above.

  • Around 40 yo, they were divorced
  • Then their employer went bust
  • Then they found our their pension had invested in the employer
  • So the pension went bust…

Long story short, a rapid journey from “set” to “f*%^ed”.

They could see “effective net worth” was negative due to financial obligations related to the divorce.

What I saw for a decade…

Three jobs: two of the jobs had flexible scheduling. Time off was used to work continuously (7/52/365). The third job was consulting, which was done inside the daily gaps.

Modest spending: given the income rolling in, not much went out.

Heavy investment: every single month, buy financial assets. Take overtime, buy more. Bonuses and financial windfalls, buy more. Buy, buy, buy.

This path isn’t for everyone – it comes with a cost in terms of family life. You need a spouse, who is completely on board. It’s a team effort.

A decade of grinding and the family is in a strong position. Now, the challenge may be to shift away from financial assets and build multigenerational Human Capital.


Final Word

Think deeply about Reference Set

  • There is a weak link between financial assets and life satisfaction
  • We never get time back
  • Too often wants are driven by external influences
  • Know what feeds your soul – write it down, take your shot

Make the target clear to yourself – for me => an active, outdoor life sharing experiences with friends and family

Stay on target.

When One Dollar Costs You Ten

My kids won’t fully appreciate my choices until after I’m gone.

My #1 financial goal for my kids is debt-free education in a field that enables them to get paid.

With the very best of intentions, the US Government has completely screwed up both (a) the cost of college education and (b) the financial lives of the students they were seeking to help.


Debt isn’t free.

Every market juiced with easy money gets screwed up.


Explanation below – my life mirrors the blue line – graduate early, debt free, start saving

I googled up average debt at graduation and average graduation age.

$40,000 and 23 yo.

So let’s make three simple scenarios:

  1. Debt free early graduation (21 yo) => McGill 1990 finance grad
  2. Debt free at 25 yo
  3. Debt free at 30 yo

Let’s run it forward assuming:

  • Investment return of 5%, prior year close
  • $20,000 per annum savings

The late-start saver

  • who saves at the same annual rate
  • who earns the same return

ends up ~$1 million behind at 60 yo.

This is not the whole story, not even close!

In my demographic, families can burn ~$250,000 of capital to help a kid “get started” => 529 accounts and parental support. Even more if you roll private from Kindergarten.

What’s the 30-year cost of this choice?

$250,000 * (1.05)^30 = $1,080,000

Million bucks gone, you never see it.

  1. You burned the capital
  2. The kid figures life out by 30, and spends most of their 20s pissed at you (for tapering their support) 😉

$2 million opportunity cost, spread between two generations.

You assume it was what you were supposed to do and are grateful you finally got them off the payroll.


A possible alternative…

Our default position is in-state education and I’ll buy whatever’s left of your 529, at $2 on the dollar, once you save $100,000 of your own money.

What do we want to have happen?

  1. conserve family capital
  2. use debt sparingly
  3. build a habit of saving

Everyone pays their own way.

Sunday Summary 6 March 2022

Training Protocols

Decision Making

When looking at a land war in Europe, I felt it was useful to review the lessons from COVID

  • The folly of prediction
  • The future being unknowable
  • The cognitive cost of rushing (with the crowd) when fearful
  • Human systems, like markets, tend to swing past optimal
  • There is likely to be an on-going crisis for the rest of my life
  • Live my life, do my work, deal with the future when it arrives

Parenting

Wealth & Money

WIT is Wealth In Time

I am going to show you how to connect spending, time and wealth.

Let’s bring back my 20-something self. He was living in London, working in finance and renting a room to keep his overheads down. 

Coming out of college, having more cash flow than he needed, he felt rich.

But was he?

He earned $75,000 and was spending $32,000. How wealthy was he?

Remember from last week, his net worth was $20,000.

Net Worth “divided by” Spending = WEALTH IN TIME

His WIT was 7 ½ months.


Roll forward to my early 30s. I’m a young Private Equity partner and hit $1 million net worth.

I was spending $250k a year, felt flush, but was I wealthy? Let’s find out.

$1,000,000 / $250,000 = 4 Years

Not wealthy, especially when you consider my life expectancy (>50 years).

++

At 31, I realized my spending was buying me NOTHING. What I liked to do was swim, bike and run. I had fantasies of leaving the corporate world. I took action.

I applied to emigrate to New Zealand. Arriving in Christchurch, I was able to buy a five-bedroom house for US$110,000. My cost of living plunged to $25,000 (NZ$60,000).

My WIT jumped to 40 years.

I didn’t return from my leave of absence. Most of my family thought I was nuts.

Best trade I ever made.