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October 11, 2017

Money Isn’t Really Your Best Friend

Dear Friend,

There is a saying that during our lifetime, we have three main friends, and when we die, they leave us in exactly the reverse order in which we treated them.

No sooner does our soul leave our body when of our wealth leaves as well. Families are more faithful; they walk with us after our passing to our final resting place, then they leave us to go on with their lives.

It is only our name, the good deeds we performed for others, and the influence we may have had upon them that outlives us and offers us a share of immortality.

Strange then, isn’t it, that we spend most of our lives chasing after money, spending far less of our time then we should with our families and spending so little of our efforts to accomplish those things by which we will be remembered.

Maybe making a fortune isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe we can all identify with the profound words of the contemporary author Gauvreay: “I was part of that strange race of people, aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”

A good description for the ailment that allows too much wealth to destroy the lives of its owners is the word “affluenza”, now a part of a best selling book, Affluenza; the all-consuming epidemic. The authors describe affluenza as “a painful, contagious, socially-transmitted condition of over-load, debt, anxiety and waste, resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. It’s a powerful virus running rampant in our society, infecting our souls, affecting our wallets and financial well being, and threatening to destroy not only the environment but also our families and communities. The cure, they inform us, appears to be regulated to the distant future, since ‘the urge to splurge continues to surge'”.

Affluenza means knowing how to make money, but not how to live. Money can make fools of important persons and important persons out of fools. Let’s look at the lives of some of affluenza’s best known victims.

The president of the largest independent steel company

The greatest wheat speculator

The president of the New York Stock Exchange

A member of the president’s cabinet

The greatest bear on Wall Street

The president of the Bank of International Settlements

The head of the world’s greatest monopoly

In 1923 individually, these men symbolized what the world so frequently terms “success”. Collectively, these men controlled more wealth than there was in the United States treasury. However, twenty-five years later, their lives told a different story.

The president of the largest independent steel company (Charles Schwab) had lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life and died penniless.

The greatest wheat speculator (Artur Cutten) had died abroad unable to pay his debts.

The president of the New York Stock Exchange (Richard Whitney) had served a prison term in Sing Sing.

The member of the president’s cabinet (Albert Fall) had been pardoned from prison so he could die at home.

The greatest bear on Wall Street (Jesse Livermore) had committed suicide.

The head of the world’s greatest monopoly (Ivar Krueger) had committed suicide.

All of these “successes” spent their lives pursuing money and not one of them learned how to live.

Wealth is a blessing or a curse, depending on what you make of it.

“Money often costs too much” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your Friend,

Stu

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