Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Is less more…?

I was listening to the radio the other day, which I don’t often do in the day time, and found myself listening to a fascinating and thought provoking interview.

The female interviewee (I will call her Anne) is a self-made multi-millionaire.  “Anne” worked hard in her field, became part of a management buy out, and some years later, sold out for (presumably) millions.  She did not reveal her identity on the programme, or specify exactly how much money she was worth.  But it was clearly a very significant amount of money.  And the point of the interview, was to discuss the impact that this sudden gain of wealth had had on her. 

Anne outlined the fears that I think I would have if I were ever lucky enough to be in her position.  Her initial response was a fear that the person closest to her (her boyfriend) would in some way feel differently about her, because of the money.  And secondly, she was concerned about the impact on their friends.

Fortunately, as far as the boy friend is concerned, they already knew each other well enough, and have subsequently married and had children.  And as for the friends, well, although some of them may well realise that Anne and her husband have ‘more’ money than the rest of their friends, they have chosen to stay away from a flashy life style, so they may not realise the scale of her wealth.

Well, I’m not a particularly money oriented person.  Like most people, the thought of knowing that I am financially secure and will never need for anything, is a very appealing one.  And I’m sure there are countless people who could think of plenty of things they would like to do if they suddenly came into a ton of money.  I don’t in anyway condemn that, but I don’t hanker after a flashy lifestyle myself. 

I fear that by increasing your spending pattern, you would inevitably end up mixing with other wealthy people.  By doing so, your own wealth would seem less, and the desire to acquire more would increase in an equal and opposite way to the enjoyment of wealth.  By existing in a bubble with other wealthy people, you cannot help but loose a sense of perspective.  And I would hate that.

And so, I found myself out with my “running buddy” the other day when the conversation turned to lifestyles.  He is the type of person who works to live and lives for his family and to cook and eat!

He has a fantastic social life and a lovely wife, who is more than happy for him to pursue his sporting and social activities.  He works for himself – so has no office politics to deal with and has enough work coming in to keep him and his family comfortable. 

His life is very straightforward.  He wouldn’t mind a new car, but is happy enough with the one he’s got.  His kids are happy at school and he has a lovely home.

Thinking about all this brought me back to the interview with Anne.  She undoubtedly had to commit a huge amount of time to her business before it sold out.  She feels a huge burden of responsibility, having so much wealth.  And she has chosen to hide her financial position from friends.  To be honest, it all sounds a bit tiring and complicated.

So I was thinking, if I had to choose to live the life of Anne, with all the wealth behind me, or my running buddy’s, whose would I choose…?

I think I know…  But who would you choose…?

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