Paul Meloan – Vested Interest

Yesterday (July 31) the market essentially gave back all of the investment gains it had achieved in 2014. While I hate commenting on the markets (pointless, time waste) I think it’s occasionally useful to relate it back to overall wealth.

There are many tools that build a wealthy life, and growing investments are far from the only tool available. What else you got?

1. Cash in the bank. You probably know about how much it costs for you to live every month. (You do know that, right? RIGHT???) Ok, how many months’ worth of expenses do you have right now in cash? Is the answer less than or equal to three: forget everything else and fix this right now. If the answer more than three and less than 12, you’re probably in the right area: remind yourself why you have that then forget it. If the answer is equal to or greater than 12: there should be a very important and specific reason why you are stockpiling an asset that loses about 3% of its value each and every year.

2. A roof over your head. If you own your home, forget for a moment what you paid for it. 2005 is long gone and it’s never coming back. Outsized investment gain has never been (and never will be) why it is good to own your home: if your holding period is 10 years or longer it is way more likely to be cheaper than renting, especially thanks to the way Uncle Sam subsidizes mortgage debt.

3. Your health. Health costs are becoming more stable, and so is the cost of health insurance. To go without health insurance in 2014 is an almost inexcusable roll of the bankruptcy dice without any justification.

4. Your ability to earn a living. Chances are you have something to offer the world that the world will pay you more for than it cost you to produce. If you enjoy doing it, then the money you earn feels even better.

Investments are not wealth, and never will be. Investments are part of an overall plan that allows someone to live the life they want indefinitely. Being wealthy means never worrying about anything truly important, and ignoring whatever the market does in any given day, week, month or year.

Paul Meloan is the co-founder and co-managing member of Aegis Wealth Management, LLC, in Bethesda, Maryland USA. Before Aegis Paul was a practicing attorney as well as working in the tax practice of Ernst & Young, LLP.

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