I was at the gym this week talking with one of my old time pals, Bob. He is 81 years old and in fine physical condition. He was complaining to me about his friend in Palm Springs who keeps sending him pictures of how beautiful it is out there. The fact that we are having one of the coldest winters in Buffalo’s recent history was not lost on Bob.
When we got off of our elliptical machines, I asked him a question that never occurred to me in our 20-year association. I asked him what he was worth. He said just under $1 million. For the record, he is married and has no children. He also is an avid tennis player and fan and drives to Toronto for the tennis Masters series most years.
I told Bob that in the past I had traveled out to Palm Desert, where they have world-class tennis this time of year. The temperature is consistently between 60 and 90 degrees, and it never rains. He said that he could never go out there. When I asked why, he said that he thought it would be too expensive. In fact, the trip would cost him less than one-tenth of one percent of his net worth. It is interesting that although it would get him out of the rotten Buffalo winter weather, provide him with world-class entertainment, and give him memories that he could enjoy for years, he thought the cost was prohibitive.
What my friend exhibits is what we call a poor relationship with his money. In the end, what is the real purpose of money? It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. If you are too concerned about preserving your money, regardless of your age, you can miss the central benefit of money: allowing you to help fulfill your vision – whether it be helping others, or creating wonderful memories for you and your friends or family.
The next time you complain about something, stop and think for a moment. Are you really complaining about the conditions, or about your reluctance to do something about the conditions? In the end, what is the money for?