"If you think that money is not important, you don't have any"
After hearing the panelist make this comment, I immediately looked around the room to see who he just offended. Although I agree with him, I was surprised to hear him make such a strong comment in such a public forum. The truth is, this type of belief makes people without money, and no plans to get it, feel better. I have heard this a thousand times from family and friends when the topic of money comes up.
I remember growing up and watching the movie "Can't Buy Me Love" in school. The basic idea of the movie is that an unpopular male high schooler is desperate for approval and pays the lead cheerleader to date him for a month; or to at least make it look as though they are dating. This way he will become popular, which was a guarantee of his happiness. The result was that she starts to fall for him and he does in fact become popular. The popularity however, does not make him happy. In fact, the lesson was that money cannot buy you happiness. He was much happier with his original relationships than he was with the new ones from the "cool crowd". I was in elementary school when this movie was shown to my class and I still remember it.
I have always believed that money cannot buy happiness and that I could honestly be fulfilled without it, but I still wanted it and I still pursued it. I focused a huge part of my life to attain it and now, after all the years of hard work and struggle, I am glad I did. I live a very happy and fulfilled life, and money enhances it.
I relate money to alcohol. Alcohol, when consumed responsibly, can enhance an experience. It can make challenging situations easier and it can bond people together. It can also ruin your life! A difference of course, is that alcohol is much easier to get, but outside of that, there are a lot of similarities. They both are enhancers and they both can be addictive. They both can ease stress, but they both can create stress too. I know rich people that are miserable, and I know rich people that are happy. The money does not create one or the other.
There was a time as I was trying to create wealth that I lost almost everything financially. I went through an extremely challenging time in my business and my personal financial life. I stopped answering the phone because I knew it was debt collectors on the other end. I learned a great deal with this experience. One thing I know for sure is that I never want to be broke again. Although I believe having money is not a guarantee to happiness, not having money is a guarantee of at least some stress and pain. It is possible to be happy without money, but it is a hell of a lot easier with it. Money is important.
From my experience, the only sure-fire way to happiness is through solid relationships. These days I spend a lot more energy strengthening relationships with friends and family that make me happy. I also focus on limiting time and energy into relationships that drain me or do not make me happy. This is tough to do, but the results are positive. Over the years in business, my circle of friends has shifted to more supportive and positive people. This happened organically, but now that I am aware of it, I can focus on it. The real estate industry has been good to me in many ways, but the most important is the people that I have met and that I now spend time with. Some of the most generous, supportive, and amazing people in the world are real estate investors. It is helpful to have a little extra cash to have amazing experiences with people I want to be around.
It is true money alone will not make you happy, but it sure helps. Money is important.