How Much Money Is Enough?

Most people have never actually thought that question through.  Is it in terms of lifestyle, security, opportunity, admiration, adulation, or just a hoard of money.

To be fair, it is a very difficult question.

Some people see money as a means to an end.  Comfortable retirement, emergency money, education for children, help children along the way, leave something for the grandchildren or charities.

At the other extreme are people with overdeveloped security needs.  Usually ones who suffered something traumatic while they were young.  A parent died.  A war took their family.  The family lost their wealth.  These people can never have enough because security is relative and their need is unmeasurable.  Logic will not help them.  An emotional change is required.  It is just a number for them and it is never big enough.

Somewhere in the middle are the ones who use their wealth as a means to keep score.  Wealth tells them they have worked harder, contributed more, been inventive or opportunity seeking, and have been rewarded for that.  Most entrepreneurs fit here.  Many of them have orders of magnitude more money than they need to live their preferred lifestyle.  More money validates their actions and right actions motivate them.

If you want to be super-wealthy you cannot have an intermediate marker.  Someone who thinks $10 million is enough will probably never have $100 million.  Getting $100 million is hard to do and not needing it or valuing it in any tangible way precludes the needed drive.

Part of the problem for most of us is in noticing that we don’t understand true wealth.  Our society equates abundance with wealth.  That can lead to confusion and confusion is seldom a good guide for behaviour.  People can have effective and productive and happy lives without abundance.  Abundance without purpose is a false goal.

Beyond the money needed to support lifestyle, (presuming you have defined that) and enhance the lives of others around you, wealth has little value.  Except as a way to create options and opportunities.

Think it through.  Once you have enough, what will you do with the rest?

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.


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