I am a firm believer that money makes people do strange things. Having only been on this planet a little over 40 years and I have seen sooo many things when it comes to money. I came from parents that never had much of it and what they did have I would have to say they were pretty conservative baby boomers. Both of them did the classic “work for someone for 30 some years and collect a 401K and a pension, pay off the house and retire.”. They both came from large families that were probably of the poor farmer types always struggling but yet happy in miserable at the same time. (I’ll come back to what I mean by this later.).
My parents put me through a very expensive education and by doing this I think I garnered some advancement in my lifestyle that brought me to where I am at today. Although I think the word is still out on that today. Many of the people I graduated with went on to some successful careers in life and I think they did very well for themselves. I am thankful for the education my parents work so hard to pass on to me and their conservative lifestyle and mindset of working hard eventually did pay off and I think it gave me a well-rounded picture on what I am about to say.
In the last 20+ years of being on my own and moving out I worked through a career and which also included obtaining my first home at the age of 22. This was a time when most people my age I knew rented or still lived with their mom/dad etc. At an early age I learned the importance of paying my mortgage, light, car payments etc and what kind of struggle that would be. It kept me in a low middle-income job until something pried me loose of that position and on to something else. (hurricane Andrew.). This succession of jobs from one place to another always had me hoping around but always in that low to middle-income position to I finally started working with IBM. After 15 years with IBM, I am definitely not in the low/middle-income but probably more in the upper middle-income if not working my way fast out of that position. (I hope I am not boring you by this point but I am trying to get to a point.)
Now in my mid 40’s I have seen my variation of income ranges and I would say only until the last 5 have I reached a point where the level of income has started to exceed my own level of contentment. Let me be clear on what this means to me. About 2 years ago I hit a level where on the same day of every month I can pay all my bills and incidentals that I really don’t have to worry about playing the “robbing peter to pay paul game.”. Outside of the usual electric, phone, water, etc. I have no debt. I have no car payments and no credit card debt at all. For this I consider myself to pretty fortunate. I know plenty of people in this day and age are far worse off. It took me way to long to get to this point. Over the course of the last year I have been enjoying it and is made me think.
Its interesting when I hear people complain about money at varying levels. Now that I am at the point where it doesn’t seem to much of an issue to me, it makes me wonder about whats next for me. It’s not something I had been used to thinking about. I think there are phases to money in people’s lives. There is a phase of complete poverty, which I have never really though I was ever in. Its seems like I am always figuring a way to get by. Then the phase of shelter, food, utilities etc. Figured this out pretty quick early on. For the last 20 years of moving between homes (last count 14) and jobs towards my career I think much of it has been just upgrading to get to a point I’m pretty much comfortable at in my lifestyle. With the moves, having kids and a family and various other things happening in my life I think my progress at different points was slowed.
Over the last year or so, as I stated earlier, I have been able to enjoy things a little bit. Bought the sports car and a few other toys but for the most part I think I was largely unproductive. I am hoping in the next 20 years of my life to become a little more productive and do some things with it like fix up the house etc. But again though it makes me think about other things.
What happens when you get to the next stage when you do things with your money to make you money? At some point people begin to realize that they can really spend about all they can spend and then begin the point where their money makes them more money that they can’t even begin to spend. I don’t think its a phase I’ll ever really be at, forgoing hitting the lottery, but I always seem to wonder about that level. Which brings me to my original thought point of “Money makes people do strange things.”. At what point do you begin really buying the things you don’t really need just for the sake of having them? I did this with my Audi and looked back pretty quickly with the thought of “Did you really need this?”. No probably not. I see so often in wealthy people (which btw I think is always in a matter of perspective) where they succumb to this need of buying the new house, multiple cars etc and I can’t help but think at what point does it stop? I mean whats wrong with the house that I am in? I certainly downsized from the last one and this one seems just right for me. I don’t need or want the glamor or glitz or get caught up with competing against the Joanses. To me it at some point it just has to stop. Is it because each person has some differing level of contentment? That may very well be. How many homes does Opra or J.K. Rowlings have? Why would a single person want several homes with 15-20 rooms in them? Is it for a tax write off or merely someplace to shelter the money?
I think at some point people develop this nature of greed that goes to the point of absurdity? Then I think it comes to this “Dont tread on me.” lifestyle of complaining about things like taxes etc to the point of extreme protectionism. It urks me when I hear the uber rich of billionaires like Rush Limbaugh complain about taxes when they have enough money and tax shelters to keep them way beyond the point of wealthy for multiple lifetimes.
My view has always been this. When you tax someone of a billionaire status 38%, even after paying those taxes they still are billionaires. When you tax a family that combined make 40,000 per year a 30% tax rate, you leave them with 1/3 less an income to survive with. This is so incredibly abundantly obvious but when the uber rich talk about wanting a flat tax rate for everyone, this is exactly what they want. I have no sympathy when it comes to taxing people who make over a 1/4 million dollars a year and yet it is always a contention with them. They shout and scream “communism” but it’s not that (more like marxism) but there is a little bit of Marxism in every economy otherwise it wouldn’t work and you’d have an elitist society running things by the control of the wealthy.
The last two terms we suffered the worst destruction of the middle class while the wealthy got richer. It happens constantly and it keeps the middle to lower-income class in check and wanting jobs at whatever the wealthy wish to provide. It is a sad state of affairs if you ask me. Even the term conservatism has been given a bad name by the largest group of people touting the word the most. Correct me if I am wrong but how does a single individual with no family have a dozen or more homes with 15-20 rooms and continue to tout conservatism?