When I was in college, every spring a group of friends and I would go on a canoe trip on the Manistee River in the middle of nowhere in Northern Michigan. It was something of a last hurrah before school was out for the summer.
During one of my final trips, after a long day on the Manistee, we were picked up by the owners of the canoe rental shop and driven back to our campsite. We all had a few too many Busch Lights in the sun all day on the water, so we began to wax philosophical with the rental owner, a guy in his mid-to-late 30s.
He was telling us all about his life in the wilderness with his wife. It was a simple, minimalist lifestyle. They lived in a small, beat-up trailer, didn’t have many material possessions and didn’t make a lot of money from the canoe rental business. They both had to pick up odd jobs in the winter to stay afloat.
But he told us that they couldn’t have been happier with their life. They got to work outside during the summer and be on the water all day. They worked together and got to spend quality time with each other every day. They didn’t have a much in the way of material possessions, but they didn’t want for much either.
This was at a time in my college experience when many of us were looking for jobs. My friends and I were all worried about much money we were going to make and what cities we would end up in. And I remember being struck by this guy and his wife, living a very simple life in the middle of nowhere, but completely satisfied with what they had. It made no sense to me at the time, but their attitude really stuck with me over the years.
I was reminded of this story when I read that the number of people with a net worth of at least $25 million (excluding their home) reached a new record last year. And here’s what a group of these people had to say in a survey:
Yet the same survey found that those wealthy Americans still have plenty of financial concerns. Actually, they sound fairly miserable… and that’s in a survey taken well before the stock market took a recent tumble. They may travel more, go to ballgames or concerts, or buy nice jewelry, but 70 percent of those surveyed said they get more satisfaction out of saving and investing their money than from spending it. More than half said they worry about the next generation wasting the money they inherit. And almost a quarter (23 percent) said they worry “constantly” — constantly — about their financial situation.
Having a high net worth and living a rich life are two completely different things. In Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth, Nick Murray says, “No matter how much money you have, if you’re still worried, you aren’t wealthy.”
Something to think about.
My book review of Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth