Avoiding complexity

I’ve noticed on my daily observations of folks around me that people seem instinctively wired to take something simple and make it unnecessarily complex.  I work with several older high income individuals who should all be easily retired by now and living nice, relaxing lives on the sand somewhere drinking a tasty beverage out of a coconut with a tiny paper umbrella hanging out of it.

But they can’t, because they’ve spent too much time and money over the years on stuff that, based on my interpretation, has only added stress and headaches instead of something of positive value.  And that’s not only my opinion; they’ve told me straight up that they feel the same way.  Watching these people has been one of my most valuable life experiences, and I estimate it has shaved at least a decade off of the time I need to work by learning what not to do with the valuable years of my youth.

Here’s a great example of a person who has absolutely won the financial game of life but is still looking for ways to add stress (and likely many more working years) to his life:  Can I afford a $1.5 million house?

I don’t understand the obsession that so many high income people have with wanting to own ALL the things, especially property.  I’m convinced that situations summed up by the phrase “mo money, mo problems” arise not because people have a high net worth, but because of what they choose to do with that money.  If running a real estate business is your profession, then that’s different, but why someone who makes over a million dollars a year in his primary job would willingly go around buying up houses (that he doesn’t even plan to live in!) in various places is beyond me.

With that level of income, you could stay at the nicest room in the nicest hotel anywhere in the world with barely a dent in the bank account and not have the headaches that come with owning several huge houses and their associated pieces of land.  You show up at a 5 star hotel, bask in luxury for a week or two, let someone else clean up your towels & change your sheets, and you don’t have to handle the various legal, tax, and maintenance ramifications that come with owning multiple remote homes or a vagrant slipping and falling on the edge of your property line and subsequently trying to sue you for 5 million dollars.  Or deal with a house inconveniently located on the opposite side of the country flooding from a busted water pipe that ruins 3000 square feet of hardwood floors and all the furniture; this actually happened to my friend’s parents’ vacation home a few years ago, and it was a nuisance to say the least.

With vast amounts of wealth, one could easily go anywhere, stay in any hotel without thinking twice about the price, and pay someone to drive her around using someone else’s car and fly her around using someone else’s plane.  Once the ride is over, you don’t ever have to think about it again, as it’s no longer your problem.  Maintaining a maximum amount of flexibility while minimizing liabilities and personal responsibility:  I find that way more impressive than owning a smattering of vacation homes that collect dust.

 

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