Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why I'm Not A Billionaire (And Why That's OK, Too).

Non, je ne regrette rien

A lot of people are up in arms lately about class warfare and income inequality and a lot of other nonsense.   Maybe there is some point to all of this.   All I know is, in order to get ahead in the world, you have to look after your own interests first, before attempting to change the world around you.

The reason I am not a Billionaire, or not even a ten-millionaire has more to do with my own actions, rather than those of the 1%'ers or whatever.   I am not a victim of some scheme by the Illuminati, but rather my own malfeasance.

And yes, I could have been far, far, wealthier than I am today, and not just in hindsight.   My lack of income and wealth is due, in most part, to my own laziness and malfeasance - as well as stupidity and desire for consumer goods, mind-altering substances, and gaudy distractions.

What do I mean by this?   Well, let me tell you a few stupid things I did in life, which if I had chosen not to do, would have made my life different.
1.  I chose not to save.   My lack of savings started at an early age.   When I got money, from a birthday check or from Mother's purse, I spent it as fast as I could, usually on stupid things like candy and toys, which provided transitory pleasures and also (with regard to the candy) certainly didn't improve my health.   Saving money wasn't something I started doing until I was nearly 30 years old and that is pretty pathetic.
2.  I didn't take education seriously enough.  I had great opportunities handed to me in life, and like a lot of middle-class kids, squandered them.   I could have gotten better grades in school and gotten into a better college and thus had greater work opportunities later on.  I was even accepted at a prestigious prep school - but turned it down in favor of a lesser-known one, and then got tossed out of there.  I ended up flunking out of college, which was costly in terms of money and grade average.   I still ended up doing all right (there are second acts in American lives!) but not as well as I could have. 
3.  Drugs.   My siblings thought that I should be turned on to drugs and alcohol at age 13.  I am not sure that was a good idea, but I decided to go along with it.  The next 12 years of my life was affected (and indeed my entire life) from that decision.   It could have been a lot worse.   Some of my friends who went down that road ended up in jail or dead.   For me, it meant that my education suffered and that I burned through a ton of money that I could have invested.  The good news was, of course, that I was able to change my mind on this later on.  Others choose to stick with the drugs. 
4.  Consumer Goods.   I spent a ton of money in life "treating myself" to bling and crap and cable television and electronic toys, instead of thinking seriously about money and using it to make my life better, not just more comfortable.   And a lot of the crap I bought was just that - crap.  Stuff I convinced myself I "had to have" and later on regretted buying.   This doesn't mean I had to live like a monk or something, of course.  But many of the things I bought over the years that I thought were going to give me pleasure, were just toys used to drown out the deafening silence in life. 
5.  Investment Choices: While we made some good investment choices, we were rather conservative in our bets in life.  A builder Mark worked for offered to sell us a townhouse for $180,000 that doubled in value the next year.  I was too afraid.   We had a chance to buy a number of positive-cash-flow condos for $38,000 apiece (worth $150,000 today!) and walked away, not only out of fear, but because we were blowing all our money on toys, we didn't have enough capital to afford them.  When we did make risky investment choices, they were poor ones - investing in stocks touted by the television and the media - they all tanked, without exception. 
6.  Laziness:   I am a lazy person.   I'd rather goof around than work.   And you pay for that.  I never had that burning desire to succeed in life - to make millions and be a big player.   I've worked for men who were like that.   They wanted to make it big, and were willing to do anything to get there.   It takes a lot of hard work, and from what I could see, they weren't very happy people.   I grew up with the children of men like that - they were not from happy families.   So to me, it was like, "Gee, if I can make enough to get by, have a nice comfortable lifestyle, well that's fine with me!" - and most of us make that sort of choice in life.
So what is the point of this?  Do I have regrets?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  You cannot relive the past.  There is no profit in it.

What I do realize is that the main reason I am not wealthier than I am has more to do with my actions than the government, the "big banks" or the "1%'ers".   I could have chosen to be wealthier, but chose differently, instead.

And those were my choices and no one else's.

No one took my money away, I spent it.

I had numerous opportunities to get ahead, but chose not to.

And that's OK, quite frankly.  My life is what it is, because I made it what it is.

My choices, no one else's.

I have no regrets.