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Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries
of a large research staff to study the problem.
Please excuse the very wealthy for feeling a bit under siege lately.
Taxes for the top 2 percent are very likely to go higher. Uncle Sam’s share of capital gains and dividend income might rise, and means-testing for Social Security and Medicare is probable. In the United States, the very rich hold most of that wealth in dollars, which are worth increasingly less. As income inequality has grown dramatically in the nation, the very wealthy are blamed for all manner of social ills.
Rather than pile on the wealthy, this week I’d like to approach the subject of money a little more philosophically. There are surprising insights to be gleaned from the experiences of the very wealthy regarding their investments and experience with wealth.
Some context: In my day job, I come into contact with very high-net-worth individuals. These include young technologists with modest portfolios to families that measure their wealth in nine and 10 figures. For the math-averse, that’s hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.
Over the years, I have had some fascinating conversations with people who have hospitals and graduate schools named after them. I’d like to share some of the things I have learned from these folks.
1. Having money is better than not having money.
Sure, this may be obvious, but let’s get it out of the way upfront. Money may not buy you happiness, but it buys many other important things. Like financial security, excellent health care, education, travel and a comfortable retirement. In a word: freedom.
2. Don’t become “cash rich” and “time poor.”
Devoting all of your waking hours to making money is a problem, especially in professions with a partnership fast track. Lawyers, doctors, bankers and accountants can get so caught...