Money – Advice From Wealthy Men – Part 1

I’ve been fortunate to have some experience with men of various levels of wealth.  Some are self-made small business-men and others are titans of industry.  Most were not born into money, and even those who were, are quite adept at improving their situations.  This Money series will cover what I’ve gleaned from these mentors as well as cover my own personal strengths/weaknesses.  As always, feedback is welcome and I fully expect to learn something new or get some poignant advice with methods I’d never before considered.  I wish to offer the same to my readers:

Money.  We all want it (at some level) because of what it can afford us.  This is an important distinction.  You should always want to treat money as something that can work for you, not something you work for.  Money is often seen as evil, but our human existence and our choices are the only thing that can turn something to good or evil.  Even the classic quote below is often cut off to just state that money can’t buy happiness.

“Money can’t buy happiness, but neither can poverty.” – Leo Rosten, 1908

No matter how wealthy you become, you can always manufacture ways to make yourself unhappy.  Having expendable income is something that many of us wish for but rarely have.  Sure, most of us can afford to eat out here and there or take a vacation once a year, but how many of us go a month without thinking about how they can’t do something they want to do for financial reasons?  I used to make quite a bit more money in salary at my old work and was afforded some pretty nice benefits, including a somewhat flexible schedule and the ability to work from home from time to time.  I was maxing out my 401k contributions, going out to eat pretty regularly, and taking multiple vacations a year (Mexico, Bahamas, trips to Texas and Oregon) and STILL saving money.  At one point my dad needed to buy a bigger work boat.  He asked me to help him to the tune of five figures and I just withdrew it from my savings account and handed it to him.  Nowadays that concept seems so foreign.

I was happier.  I truly was.  I had a better work environment where I was respected more, and I did not have many worries.  Was it perfect?  No, but many things were better.  This is why I want to become more adept at handling my finances as well as ultimately becoming self-employed and wealthy.  I regret taking a lower paying more stressful job in some ways, but in other ways I realize that it’s given me good experience towards being self-employed and this lower level of income is an opportunity to become more disciplined with my finances.

For a while now I’ve let the situation become much the opposite, where I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for no god damn good reason.  Did I have a bunch of medical/dental expenses that I had to pay for cash out of pocket?  Yes.  Did I have some shitty luck with my car?  Yes.  Did I have a shitty roommate who still owes me well over $2,000?  Yes.  Are my finances and my ability to save money entirely within my control?  YES.

I’ve missed vacations, trips to see family, and all kinds of activities that I would enjoy and would further some of my goals.  I’ve let my mismanagement of money limit the enjoyment of my life.  Further, I haven’t pursued ways to make more money anywhere near enough.  I’m good enough at massages that people would pay me for them.  I was given a nice massage table by my cousin.  I’ve not used it once in going on 6 months.  Not even as a freebie to entice people into paying me for massages.  I also am pretty good at fixing computers.  I’ve done this on the side when people that I know have recommended me to their clients or friends, but I’ve never advertised or furthered creating a real side job out of it.  Both of these we’re talking about potential $50/hour opportunities.  Both would require very little effort, mostly just discipline.

I’ve got to get going, so I’m going to continue this in Part 2, but for now, let me share something that I HAVE taken to heart.  First, a little background on my own personal reactions prior to this advice:

When people have offered me money or gifts in the past, my reaction was to always try to be “gracious” about it and basically try to tell them that they didn’t need to.  At home, when people would bring me a bottle of alcohol, I would usually tell them thank you in an overstated, gushing fashion.  I would not only appreciate their gift, but I would be SUPER nice about even taking it.  Especially if I felt that someone was overpaying me in some regard, or if they brought me a gift I deemed too large to accept without first trying to graciously deny receipt.

Then one day when I made a wealthy client almost drop $100 that he was trying to tip me by trying to explain to him that it wasn’t necessary, the client got angry at me.  I was taken aback.  I didn’t have any idea what I did wrong.  Frustrated, he pushed the money into my hand and told me as he looked me directly in the eyes, “[AneroidOcean], I’m not giving you this money because it’s necessary, I’m giving it to you because I want to, now take it or you’re going to offend me.”

I was stunned.  What in the world did he mean that I would offend him?  The client in all his wisdom could see that I was sort of hurt and very confused.  He then told me something that I’ll never forget and I use to fight against my old habits:

“[AneroidOcean], a wise man once told me, that if someone tries to give you money, take it.  Don’t explain to them why they shouldn’t give it to you, don’t you think they’ve thought about giving you that money?  Even in a business transaction, if you don’t agree to the amount, but there are no caveats to the money, TAKE IT because you may not get another chance.  There is no reason you shouldn’t take the money and every reason to take it.”

So to sum it all up:  “If someone tries to give you money, take it.”  Smile, thank them, whatever you want, but don’t try to tell them they shouldn’t or that it’s too much.  Take it, enjoy it, because you may not have another opportunity and dammit, it’s free money.  Isn’t that what any one of us would be glad to have any day of the week?  And to think I almost made him drop that money on the floor.


~ by aneroidocean on 05/15/2012.

6 Responses to “Money – Advice From Wealthy Men – Part 1”

  1. Damn. I never knew there was a second half to that quote on money buying happiness. Its a crime that they truncate it.

    As for the taking of money thing – I think its a matter of self worth and pride of the two people involved. I know I used to protest the taking of someone’s money too. Then I started realizing that they’re paying me for my skills and work. That those are worth something and that, no, not everyone can/will do what I did for them. Even if its informal and done as a favor to them, they’re recognizing your worth and trying to compensate you for it.

    Its also a matter of pride for the person giving it. Many people are uncomfortable taking ‘freebies’ or charity from others. They have the ability to pay for it, so while they may be glad you’re giving them a discount on it or didn’t ask for money, they want to avoid feeling like they had to have it for free.

    • Totally on the money buying happiness thing.

      If you end up in a situation in the future where you’re broke, have zero money, and you think about all the money you turned down that people WANTED to give you, do you think you’ll think, “Wow, I really lived my life great, turning down all that money because I thought they didn’t really need to pay me” or do you think you’d think, “Wow, I’m an idiot.”

      I’d go for the latter. It’s one thing to turn down money from someone you think can’t really afford it, it’s entirely another to turn down money for silly reasons.

      • Yup.

        Honestly, that was an awesome tip. To just graciously accept the money with a simple thanks. Think of it like a compliment on how you look – acknowledge it and move on.

        Both you and the giver know what it means to each of you. No need to dwell on it. Not sure if its this, Game, or simply starting to value my own time, but I’m also more willing to pay other people to help my on contracted gigs.

        I pay them under the table generously (in comparison to how theatre rates go) and I get to live a little healthier and happier rather than busting my ass. I’m a bit poorer, but its worth the money. And I’m glad none of them have tried to refuse it.

  2. […] Part 1 HERE […]

  3. I find myself doing the same thing too. It’s a pride thing.
    But, you’re post reminded me of compliments: most people have this same attitude when someone compliments them. They try to downplay the compliment, act like it’s not a big deal… just say thank you & shut up! That’s all you need to do. It goes well for both these situations I think.

    • Exactly. This is a great example, because a compliment doesn’t really cost the other person anything. Why would you try to downplay it or not accept it? Being humble is one thing, but be proud of your compliments, accept them.

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