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Wealth Improvement and Happiness

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by Paul Kindzia in Happiness, Personal Finance
June 29, 2021

It’s not uncommon to come across individuals that just don’t seem to understand why a person structures and lives their life as a wealth builder.  From their vantage point, it’s too much work.  It takes too much effort.  It’s not fun.  It requires too much sacrifice.  The entire thought of living anything other than their current routine is not attractive.

So why are you doing this?  The best answer we can come up with is that it makes us happy.  Building wealth simply makes us happy.  We can take it from both vantage points.  What makes us happy and what does not make us happy.

Being broke would not make us happy.  Being up to our eyeballs in debt would not make us happy.  Living beyond our means would not make us happy.  Having inadequate savings and investments would not make us happy.  The uncertainty of a bleak financial future certainly would not make us happy.

That’s not to say that working hard always makes us happy.  Nor does watching other people spend their money on what sometimes appears to be fun stuff always make us happy.  Sometimes putting in extra effort to obtain more knowledge and understanding of ourselves and money doesn’t make us happy.

Making money is hard and takes effort.  Saving our money is hard and takes effort.  Investing wisely and prudently is hard and takes effort.  Seeking out and managing advisors is sometimes hard and takes effort.  Paying down debt is hard and takes effort.

But for a certain component of the population (albeit a small component), the juice is worth the squeeze.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.  We couldn’t function like the others.  We couldn’t have an optimistic feeling about our future if we weren’t planning and preparing for tomorrow and stacking the probabilities that tomorrow will be better than today.

Many people fail to recognize the link between a mindset that is confident and optimistic about the future and the feeling of happiness.  This strongly applies to money as well.  If you have saved up $100,000 and feel confident that over a reasonable and acceptable period of time that you are on track to get to $200,000, it greatly increases your odds of feeling happy.  Compare that to somebody who has acquired $10 million but is facing the realization that they are on track to have that capital fall to $5 million in short order.  A future that does not feel like betterment or improvement rarely results in happiness.

This is why wealth builders often feel happier than others.  It doesn’t matter their exact pace relative to one another but rather the progress they are making relative to themselves.  If they are pointing towards improvement, it is satisfying.  If they are pointing towards diminishment, it can make one feel paranoid, anxious, stressed or depressed.

Chalk up another one to “slow and steady wins the race.”  Volatility within investment portfolios can play a role in the happiness of an investor because one day they feel great and are happy (usually when they feel that their investments are on track to keep going up).  But when the tide turns and they start to anticipate a decline in their investment balances, fear kicks in and so does the stress, anxiety and paranoia.  If the dose of anticipated decline is strong enough, it can lead to depression in many.  That is not happiness.

This is why wealth builders with different scales of wealth can all feel good about themselves.  It’s not anchored by the raw value of their worth but rather relative to their feelings about their future and whether they feel it will be better than today.  That’s what wealth planning and financial planning accomplishes.  It provides a path whereby over the course of time, we not only see the improving future but we feel it as well.

The happiness of a bright financial future is something that others don’t get to experience, and it’s possible that they don’t even know what they are missing because they will never make the behavioral changes and create new habits that would put them on a path to a brighter financial future.

Good habits lead to good behaviors.  Good behaviors lead to good decisions.  Good decisions lead to a good life.  Live by principles and choose wisely.

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