I admit it, I have had my dreams of being fantastically wealthy. Hey, I subscribe to the The Wall Street Journal and Forbes and their money-glamour lifestyle journals Forbes Life and WSJ. I even get the regional glitterati slicks St. Louis Magazine and 417. You know how you can tell a money-glamour lifestyle journal? Does it have any ads for watches or ads with strangely lit, underfed women in spotlit jewelry? Does it contain advertisements in the cheap ads in the back where an attractive blonde CEO of an executive matchmaking company wants to introduce you to quality underfed women who want spotlit jewelry? You know, I once even worked for a technology startup that gave me stock options, so I had a route to wealth. If only the startup had a route to selling software, I’d have been set.
That’s not worked out. I’m not complaining, mind you. Compared to the life I lived when I was growing up and the things my parents had at my age, I am wealthy. I’ve got a house (two, actually, but I’d be willing to part with one for the right price which is more and more becoming any price), I’ve got a technology company that’s keeping us cash flow neutralish (the house for sale has four bedrooms and a spare room in the basement that could almost be a fifth, and it’s within walking distance of shopping, dining, and arts—write for details!) But I’m not going to have my own private jet nor will I need to get a passport for sure to accommodate my world capital travel.
In the back of a recent Forbes, I saw an advertisement for an advisory service that asked the rich people if they really, really wanted to get really, really rich instead of just being rich. A handy table showed the differences between the megawealthy and the merely wealthy. For example, while the wealthy might have a pretty extensive network of the associates, the megawealthy had only a small network of very important people (no doubt including a paid advisor from the firm advertising). While the wealthy had a lot of stuff and did some things, the megawealthy only did things with the specific intent of increasing their wealth (no doubt including paying an advisor from the firm advertising). The table threw into stark relief why I, Brian J. Noggle, will never be super wealthy and why I might touch upon ultramoney for some time (after Saturday’s lottery numbers are drawn), but I will never challenge Larry Ellison for America’s Cup.
Here are the main reasons I will never be wealthy, and if I do happen into a lottery prize, why I won’t remain wealthy for long.
- I give a lot away. Every time I hit the Sam’s Club or Wal-mart, I pick thirty bucks’ worth of food or clothing for Crosslines. Whenever the YMCA has a barrel for children’s clothing or a tree for adopted families in it, I participate. I am Friends with 3 separate library systems, including one where I haven’t actually lived, and a number of other foundations and historical societies and whatnot. If I could, I would end up on the super membership levels of each. I think I’m Brewster or something, or maybe I just realize I have enough wealth to redistribute voluntarily.
- I would buy lots of land and buildings. The pasture and barn beside us went through foreclosure, and I talked to the man at the bank about picking it up. He asked me what I was going to do with it, and frankly, I just wanted it to have it. Maybe I would end up with some horses or cattle in it, maybe I would ask my nineteen-year-old equine-minded cousin with whom I’ve probably not shared a dozen words in my life to live in it and run a boarding stable, maybe I would just have twice-annual hay cuttings. The thing precedes the dream in some cases. I always look at buildings for sale in various regions the same way. What, a two story building in downtown Nixa for sale for $90,000? I’ll take it! Then I can worry about what to put into it. That’s the sort of thinking that has me carrying two houses in a freefalling real estate market. Maybe it’s the way an existentialist dreams, where existence of an asset precedes the essence of an asset. Or maybe I’m just better at dreaming than the actual planning that one needs to be a good steward of wealth.
- I am a miser until I’m suddenly profligate. I buy off brands at the grocery store, I wear my shoes out, and I wear inherited clothing for a decade (and counting). But when I suddenly find out that I can’t just pump a novel into Kindle without a cover, suddenly I hire a professional graphic designer, buy 10 ISBNs, and go the print-on-demand route even though I know I’ll end up buying at least $250 worth of my own name in print just to spread around amongst my friends. I put off purchasing some repairs and repair items, furniture purchases when we can make do with hand-me-down bureaus with scaring from a puppy chewing in 1985, but when the plant center opens in the spring, I spend $200 on plants, soil, and equipment per trip into town. When I was a youth, it was the same way; I’d put my paychecks in the bank for a couple weeks, and then one night at the mall with an ATM card, I’d blow the whole wad except for bus fare on videos, video games, books, and music (and then I’d fan my purchases out when I got home with the delicious anticipation of what I’d do first).
With all of these foibles working against me and with the other limitations hard-coded into me, I’ll never be superwealthy. Even if I won the lottery or somehow else came upon a pile of money, no doubt I’d burn through it in the aforementioned manners pretty quickly.
Ah, but how much fun I would have in those few years, fanning my purchases out with the delicious anticipation of what I’d do first. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a little time to go through the real estate ads like they were the Sears Wishbook and I am five years old.