Reading allows us to learn life lessons without having to live through them ourselves. Sometimes this happens through fiction, sometimes through real life. When it comes to money, these lessons can be all the more consequential.
Last year, How I Invest Money by Brian Portnoy and Josh Brown gave us a peek into the financial lives of dozens of investment professionals.* It also spawned a wave of posts like this one, another and another.
Two recent articles also provide life (and money) insights from very different circumstances. The first by Adam Wren in Indianapolis Monthly is a profile of entrepreneur Scott Jones who has seen a big reversal in fortune. Wren writes:
In the last five years, Jones has spent the last millions of his once-vast personal fortune of more than $400 million and has a negative net worth…Jones now counsels other entrepreneurs to avoid the kind of high-profile spending he built a reputation for. Don’t own so much that your stuff owns you, he tells them. “I was feeling like my stuff owned me at that point.”
Like Jones, Gloria Liu in Outside relates her story of being an ‘outdoorsy type’ who felt compelled to spend all her money on an active lifestyle. She writes:
My story doesn’t surprise Brad Klontz, a pioneer in the field of financial psychology. When I asked him why so many of us outdoorsy types are terrible with money, he confirmed my suspicions that at least part of it can be blamed on our YOLO spirit. That drive to chase bluebird days isn’t exactly compatible with sitting in front of a computer tabulating spreadsheets. “You’re not future oriented,” he says. “To be good with money, you have to be a little anxious about what comes next.”
Spoiler alert, Liu comes to see the world in a different light. She buys a house and “was beginning to understand that getting old was not something to be so afraid of that I needed to act like it wasn’t happening.”
We all make mistakes. It’s inevitable. We have to be ‘a little anxious’ about the future for the lessons to sink in. They key is to avoid repeating the same mistakes and to learn hard-fought lessons from others along the way.