Authors: M.J. DeMarco
Tags: #Business & Economics, #Entrepreneurship, #Motivational, #New Business Enterprises, #Personal Finance, #General
Chapter Summary: Fastlane Distinctions
CHAPTER 6: HAS YOUR WEALTH BEEN TOXIFIED?
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Society's Toxification of Wealth
The lure of the Sidewalk evolves from society's poisonous and toxic corruption of wealth. Society has resolutely declared wealth's definition for you: “Wealth” is a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, chartered jets, exotic trips to the South Pacific, a mansion on the bay, and a penthouse in Las Vegas. Society says wealth is six-carat diamond earrings, Aston Martins, and watches that cost more than most people's homes. Society says wealth is an
to buy a romp in the sack with Demi Moore for $1 million based on the argument “the night will come and go, but the money will last a lifetime.” How am I doing? Sound like wealth?
Ask 10 people “what is wealth?” and you'll hear 10 different answers. Your “wealth” might be symbolized by a Lamborghini like it was for me, or it might be a farm on 70 acres in Montana and a stable full of race horses. If you think like most, “wealth” is instinctually defined by lavish luxury lifestyles.
Society has conditioned us to believe that wealth is an absolute construct perfected by material possessions. In fact, I've had to tailor the “hook” of this book to society's definition of wealth over the real definition. Why the misdirection? Like Pavlov's dogs, you've been trained to respond to it. You see, society has done a fabulous job of defining wealth for you, and unfortunately, they (again) have misled you. But don't worry; if you want luxury, the Fastlane can deliver.
The Wealth Trinity: What Is Wealth?
Wealth isn't as ambiguous as it may seem. The happiest moments in my life were when I felt true wealth. And guess what? It wasn't the day I bought my first Lamborghini. It wasn't the day I moved into a big house on a mountain or sold my company for millions. Wealth is not authored by material possessions, money, or “stuff,” but by what I call the three fundamental “F's”…
Within this wealth trinity is where you will find true wealth and, yes, happiness.
Wealth is strong-spirited familial relationships with people. Not just your family, but with people, your community, your God, and your friends. At the end of the iconic movie
It's A Wonderful Life
we're given the final lesson: “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” This reflects on the importance of having your life shared with friends, family, and loved ones. Wealth is making a difference. Wealth is community and impacting the lives of others. Wealth cannot be experienced alone in a vacuum. Believe me, the richest moments of my life occurred when I was surrounded by a family of friends and loved ones.
Second, wealth is fitness: health, vibrancy, passion, and boundless energy.
If you don't have health, you lack wealth
. Ask any terminally ill person what they value. Ask any cancer survivor how they suddenly feel reborn and happiness is displaced from “stuff” to people and experiences. There is no price on health and vibrancy.
And finally, wealth is freedom and choice: freedom to live how you want to live, what, when, and where. Freedom from bosses, alarm clocks, and the pressures of money. Freedom to passionately pursue dreams. Freedom to raise your children as you see fit. And freedom from the drudgery of doing things you hate. Freedom is the liberty to live your life as you please.
Wealth Can't Be Bought for 60 Easy Payments
I vividly remember the day. After I sold my company in 2000, my attorney handed me my first installment payment, a check for $250,000.
“Yippee, $250,000! I'm rich! I made it!” I mistakenly gleamed.
And now it was time to announce it the world. I immediately envisioned fast cars, designer clothes, speedboats, and an entourage of bikini-clad women. I thought I was wealthy and I was going to flaunt it.
Unfortunately, that fantasy was miles from the reality. Yet, I tried. I bought a candy-apple red convertible Corvette. Sports car? Check. Designer clothes from Nordstrom? Check. I researched buying a speedboat until the Internet crash interrupted my orgasmic vision. I invested my newfound wealth in tech stocks and lost thousands of dollars. Within months, more than half of my “wealth” evaporated, and after a conversation with my accountant, another third was soon to be parted with, thanks to taxes.
in my attempt to look wealthy, real wealth slid further away
. With no job, no business, no income, and a small sum of money, I couldn't support my life forever, nor the wealthy lifestyle I envisioned for someone rich. I wasn't rich at all.
The Illusion of Wealth: Looking Rich
In pop culture, master illusionists of wealth are called “30K millionaires.”
If you haven't heard this phrase, it characterizes someone who maintains an image of a millionaire, yet has no net worth. These folks aren't hard to find. They drive entry-level BMWs with custom chrome rims, they wear fancy designer clothes with gothic cursive lettering from some faux French guy, and they congregate in the VIP section of the club ordering bottle service, of course, on credit. These folks broadcast like dashing debutantes with an extraordinary A-game, but behind all the flash-and-cash they're miserable magicians of the Sidewalk.
The problem with looking wealthy versus being wealthy is that the former is easy while the latter is not. Easy credit and long-term monthly financing options(make no payments for one year!) are tempting conduits to help you purchase the illusion of wealth. Society has led you to believe that wealth can be bought at a mall, at a car dealership, or on an infomercial. Like my initial spending spree when I cashed my first check, these appearances of wealth are supposed announcements to the world: “I'm rich!”
But are you?
When you finance an $80,000 Mercedes Benz over six years because that's all you could afford, that isn't wealth, but impersonation of wealth. You're fooling yourself, and it's a Fastlane detour. But don't jump the bandwagon yet; this isn't a sermon about how you can't spend money on pricey German sedans. Not at all. Wealth isn't embodied in a car but in the freedom to know that you can buy it. Freedom to walk into the dealership, know your price, pay cash, and drive away.
For a gift, I bought my brother a new Lexus. It was the easiest transaction I ever did.
I researched the car and determined the price I wanted to pay. I walked into the dealership with a cashier's check and told the salesman, “I have a cashier's check for $44,000 and I want to buy that car. I need a YES or a NO.”
Twenty minutes later, I owned a Lexus. This is wealth, not an impersonation of wealth.
When I drive to the gym, I pass a dilapidated apartment complex near the expressway. In the parking lot I always see the same car parked: a shiny black Cadillac Escalade with 22-inch chrome custom rims. Do you see the incongruity? You live in a crappy apartment but you drive a $60,000 car with $10,000 rims? Do I see monitors in those headrests and hear a 24-speaker stereo? Geez, 90 grand of image and two bucks of common sense. Wouldn't it be wiser if you focused on owning a nice house in a nice neighborhood instead of leasing the tightest car in the Marbella Gardens apartment complex? Priorities: Some want to
, while others want to
Faux Wealth Destroys Real Wealth
“Faux wealth” is the illusion of wealth without having it. It believes society's definition of wealth. It's not realizing that the pursuit of “faux wealth” does something terribly destructive:
It destroys real wealth.
And as the chasm between real wealth and faux wealth expands, expectations are violated and misery creeps in. Like a Chinese finger-cuff, the more you try to look rich, the tighter the grip of poorness becomes. Wealth cannot be purchased at a Mercedes dealership, but the destruction of your freedom can.
Lost in wealth's translation is freedom. People flaunt the icons of wealth, but do not have freedom, and when you don't have freedom, it assiduously gnaws at the other true wealth elements, health and relationships.
Henry Sukarano buys his dream house in the Baltimore suburbs for $1.8 million. As a pharmaceutical representative for one of the leading drug makers, Henry's career is on the fast-track. His big home has everything he wants, including a pool, horse stables, and an impressive five-car garage. The purchase gives Henry a feeling of “I've made it!” . . . for about eight weeks.
Corporate politics and job cuts invade Henry's career, forcing him to work longer hours. He assumes other territories once covered by recently laid-off workers. Henry commutes two hours daily and is mandated to cover the entire Eastern seaboard. He's either on the road, in a plane, or sleeping. The long hours have disturbing clarity: Henry rarely “lives” at his dream home, and when he does, he spends it sleeping or recharging from the hustle of the workweek.
His relationship with his wife and kids suffers. His health declines as the stress of responsibility mount. Henry comes to a moment of truth: “I'm not living a dream, but my dream is living me.” Feeling trapped to the lifestyle illusion, Henry continues to work believing the ideology that wealth has its price.
Notice how the destruction of freedom attacks the other sibling wealth components. Unaffordable material possessions have consequences to our health and relationships. The irony of looking wealthy is that it is an enemy to real wealth: It destroys freedom, it destroys health, and it destroys relationships.
The Millionaire Fastlane
addresses the FREEDOM portion of the wealth trinity, because freedom offers protection to health and relationships. Only you can define your freedom and how you prefer to live. If you want the freedom to fly private jets, that's it. If you want the freedom to live a minimalist lifestyle, then that is it. Everyone's freedom is different! Within your personal definition, you'll find a big piece of your wealth puzzle, as opposed to society's version, which leads to Sidewalking purgatory.
Chapter Summary: Fastlane Distinctions
CHAPTER 7: MISUSE MONEY AND MONEY WILL MISUSE YOU
Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable.
~ Clare Boothe Luce
IF Money Doesn't Buy Happiness … Does Poverty?
People who declare, “Money doesn't buy happiness” have already concluded they will never have money. This old equivocation becomes the torchbearer to their poorness. And since money doesn't buy happiness, why save it? And then logic begs, if money doesn't buy happiness, does poverty? Does the guy who owns a Ferrari automatically have a small penis while the guy behind the wheel of a Honda must be well hung?
Go to Google and search the phrase “Money doesn't buy happiness.” Page after page concludes that money has no bearing on happiness. Should you be shocked that a Connecticut businessman earning a six-figure salary might be unhappier than a cattle-herder in Kenya? Absolutely not.
That fact is, these analyses fall short because they don't isolate the real thief of happiness:
, the antithesis of freedom. The irony is that when most people earn “more money,” it doesn't add freedom, it detracts. By creating Lifestyle Servitude, more money becomes destructive to the wealth trinity: family, fitness, and freedom.
According to Creighton University's Center for Marriage and Family, debt is the leading cause of strife for the newly married. Debt and Lifestyle Servitude keeps people bound to work and unbound to relationships.
A 2003 World Value Survey (
) found that the happiest people in the world have a tight sense of community and strong family bonds. After basic needs are met (security, shelter, health, food), our happiness quotient is most significantly impacted by the quality of our relationships with our partners, our family, our friends, our spirituality, and ourselves.
If we are too busy chasing the next greatest gadget to strike down the competitive opulence of the Joneses, we finance our misery. The World Value Survey concluded that “consumerism” is the leading obstacle to happiness.
The fact is, there are many millionaires and well paid career folks who are absolutely miserable, and it has nothing to do with the money. It has to do with their freedom. Money owns them, instead of them owning their money. The well salaried workaholic who is never home to strengthen the relationship with his wife and kids is likely to be less happier than the poor farmer in Thailand who spends half his day tending to his fields and the other half with his family.
In 2009, the popular American talk show host David Letterman went public with an extortion plot by a producer from another CBS show. The men who perpetrated the alleged $2 million blackmail scam reportedly earned $214,000 a year. Yet the man claimed to be in severe financial ruin, partly due to spousal alimony payments of nearly $6,000 per month. Was this extortionist trying to blackmail a celebrity because he wanted to “buy happiness?” What was his real motive? I contend that he was trying to buy freedom because his debts kept him contained in servitude. Would $2 million have made a difference? Perhaps in the short term, but not in the long term because his relationship with money was already corrupted. A source close to the investigation said, “He just didn't want to work anymore.” In other words, he craved freedom.