Wealth, Luxury, and Freedom! Why We Can’t Have All Three…

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Life can be frustrating…we can’t have everything.  Although this makes rational sense, we tend to fall into the trap of wanting everything and feeling entitled to it right now!

But honestly, have you ever asked yourself what you really want in life?  What do you think could actually make you happy?

Let’s get a little philosophical here…

Is it love? Of course we all want a steady spouse who can walk hand in hand with us through all of life’s challenges and victories. Love is grand isn’t it?  Yep, my wife surely makes me happy!

Is it self-worth?  We definitely want to feel valued by our friends, peers, work associates, and loved ones.

Is it passion?  I know personally I’d feel lost without the ability to share my passion for finance, investing, and wealth generation with others.  But many people can’t find their true passion.

Well sure, all of us yearn for each of those things…but I’ll save a discussion on those topics for another author on a different blog site.

Instead, I’m going to suggest (like it or not) that when you boil it down to brass tacks, what we all want is pretty simple: Wealth, Luxury, and Freedom!

But of course, there’s a  catch – and it happens to be my thesis for this article:

In life, you can pick any two of wealth, luxury, and freedom, but you cannot have all three.

Sure, there are some born with all three…to use a phrase coined by Mr. Warren Buffett, they’ve won the “ovarian lottery.”  But for the rest of us that come from more meager to average upbringings, we must decide which two we want.  Why only two?  Let’s break it down…

1. You choose Wealth and Luxury

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As we know at Gen Wise Wealth, if we want to be wealthy, we must maximize the amount of savings and investment by spending less than we receive in income.  Our income must be high and/or our expenditures must be low in order to maximize the amount left over that can be saved and invested….pretty simple.

If you want luxury in life, your expenditures are obviously going to be high because you’ve got to be able afford that expensive mortgage, fast car, and all those sweet parties and vacations. Pass the caviar, bro!

But hey, you want wealth too!  And why shouldn’t you? In addition to nice material things and experiences, you want some serious money in the bank including investable assets and a high net worth.

So guess what, amigo, you better have yourself an ultra-high paying job.  Your income must be enough to not only fund your extravagance, but it must also must fund your future through savings and investment to let compound interest work its magic.

There’s the rub…say bye bye to freedom.

Those “golden chains” that come from a high-paying career (e.g. investment banking, lawyer, doctor, etc.), restrict you from living a free life. You’ve got responsibilities, son! And a demanding boss! Heck, you might even have to travel all week  and/or work some long nights and weekends!

I’m not saying this is a bad way to live, as many love the pace of life and revel in the action of a high paying, high profile job.  But this ain’t freedom, folks.

In this life, you chose wealth and luxury, forcing you to relinquish your freedom.  Want to skip town on a random Wednesday to sip a cold pop on the beach? FUGETABOUTIT…Don’t you just love stress!

2. You choose Luxury and Freedom

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So you still want all those luxurious material pleasantries, huh? You can’t force yourself to sell that ostentatious house in Prime Location, USA? And why should you…you get to hob nob with all the one-percent-ers and pat yourself on the back for owning a brand new BMW 7-series!

But under absolutely no circumstances will you be a slave to the man…no, you’re too smart to subject yourself to that nonsensical rat-race some call a rewarding career. You want freedom, flexibility…heck, the ability to mow the lawn in your skivvies on a Monday morning. Top of the mornin’, neighbor!

Are there occupations out there that fit this bill? Sure!  Hmm, realtor, independent contractor, freelancer, blogger, teacher (summers off, peeps!) all come to mind. Some of these can be wildly successful, some not so much.  Perhaps a low-stress 9-5 job fits the bill, awarding plenty of vacation time and personal days.

In any case, the level of income that generally comes with a high level of personal freedom is meager at best.  Thus, if you want to spend money on luxurious things, AND have freedom, chances are there won’t be much left over to grow your nest egg.   But life’s for living, right?…You can’t spend your savings when you’re dead!..(read with heavy sarcasm there, in case you didn’t catch my drift.)

3.  You choose Wealth and Freedom

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Ok boys and girls, here’s a sure-fire dynamic duo everyone can appreciate. You decide that when all’s said and done, what matters most in life to you is your wealth AND your freedom. Nice choices.

You want a sizable nest egg but don’t want to sell your soul to the stresses of the high profile daily grind.  You want a financially comfortable lifestyle, but but you’re not willing to chain yourself to audacious material possessions or status (think huge mortgages or car payments).

You are comfortable and content in your aspirations to join the club of the silent wealthy…the “millionaires next door”…(I highly recommend a great book by the same title).

Your 1994 Honda Accord rattles on and on as the odometer cracks the 250k mile mark, but you don’t care because your assets just keep growing.

Some of your peers and friends are buying new cars, going on expensive vacations, buying new homes, and enjoying their parties together, all envious of each other’s material belongings and extravagant experiences.  They compete over things rather than wealth or freedom…it’s a literal race to the bottom for them.

Sure they might look down on you.  Heck, they might even laugh at you behind your back!

But boy, oh boy, that’s fine with you! You’ve chosen to forgo the life of luxury to grow your wealth while maintaining a relatively free and balanced lifestyle.

To Sum Up

A couple phrases come to mind here: “There’s no free lunch” and “You can’t have your cake and eat it to.”

So unless you are part of the fortunate minority born into a life of luxury, wealth, and freedom, you’re going to have to make some tough choices in life.

When it comes to picking two, there is obviously no right or wrong combination of Wealth, Luxury, and Freedom.  As readers of Gen Wise Wealth, however, my hope is that you pick Wealth as one of your life choices.  The choice of adding Luxury or maintaining your Freedom, then,  is totally up to you, your life circumstances, and your income generation prospects.

 

So tell me, which two will you choose?

Sincerely,

Wes

Comments

  1. says

    I think you can have all three. The question is how one defines luxury because there is no ceiling to that term. The bar keeps increasing at every echelon in earning and/or status. One person’s day to day life is a life of luxury for another.

    Figuring out what is “enough” luxury (aka a higher standard of living than what you would consider “comfortable”) is the first step. The second is ensuring you spare yourself from falling into lifestyle inflation.

    Soon enough, you are wealthy, free, and can afford luxuries if you choose to purchase them but here’s the best part: you don’t actually want them because you know they won’t make you happy.

    • Wes says

      Hi Free To Pursue,
      I think you are exactly right. Studies show that once a person has the basic necessities and a reasonable quality of life (shelter, adequate food, leisure time), there are diminishing marginal returns to happiness. In fact, in most cases, more luxury goods actually can reduce happiness since they require work to maintain, plan, etc. Find your happiness sweet spot, and additional income/wealth beyond that can be saved and invested!

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