|Home | About Us | Contact Us | Advertising | www.fsu.ca|
|Monday, May 20th, 2013|
> Monday, February 6th, 2012 > Opinion > Notes from Day Seven: How to get rich
Notes from Day Seven: How to get rich
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Michael Veenema
Published: Monday, February 6th, 2012
There are lots of ways to get rich. You could start a band and sell a million records. You could outsmart professional stock traders and accurately predict which stocks are going to make millions. If you had lived in the mid-1800s, you could win a battle for the British and be given a humungous tract of land in Upper Canada (Ontario). That kind of thing would not have pleased native leaders but, hey, at least it was legal – according to the Brits. You could beat professional land developers at their own game, buy a piece of land on the outskirts of [insert name of preferred city], watch it inflate in value, and when the time is right, cash in!
Of course, those are all very long shots at a moving target. One less dramatic but more likely to succeed method is to save money. In his book, The Wealthy Barber Returns, David Chilton encourages Canadians to save money. Start now. If you begin saving 10 to 15 per cent of your income as soon as you start earning money, you should be able to amass $500,000 or more by the time you retire in addition to having paid for a house.
Admittedly, this isn't very exciting. On the plus side, it doesn't take a lot of skill (if you follow Chilton's advice), and almost anyone can do it, as long as you have a steady income you can live with. The toughest part is that most of us are not very good at living within our means and tend to have nothing left over to save. Chilton's mission is to change that.
But should owning a home and having enough cash to live out those retirement years be the end goal? And what is wealth, anyway? I think we too often confuse wealth with money.
There are other kinds of wealth. One of the most overlooked is children. How many children does the average Canadian couple bring into this world? I think it's something like 1.6 per couple in a long-term relationship or marriage.
In times past and in other parts of the world today, having zero or just one or two children would have been, or would be, considered a serious set-back. Why? Among other benefits to having a number of children is this: someone is going to be around to visit you when you can't get out of the house anymore and pour a drink for you when you get too shaky to do that yourself. More seriously, someone is more likely to take an interest in you when you become feeble and be there to support you.
What's the point of having a house paid for and a million dollars invested when what awaits you is a long stay in an institutional care facility surrounded by nine-to-five professional caregivers? And your final hours? Death surrounded by machines and more professionals. At the end of the day, we need love. Sure, an annual cruise every year after you turn 55 sounds like a good substitute, but it's not.
Unfortunately, as the above poorly stated statistic shows, family and children are becoming more and more an afterthought than a primary focus for young Canadians. It's all about the career. A long-term relationship and marriage leading up to raising kids – well, only if I can afford it. Only when the house is largely paid for and furnished. The car should be paid for, too. And the student debt wiped clean.
Here's my economic theory about children. Kids drive the economy. How is that? When you have kids, you are motivated to work to give them a good life. It's not that people without kids can't be motivated. Chances are not bad, worthy reader, that here in a community college, you are living proof of that. But children are a great inducement to healthy, thriving economies.
I don't necessarily mean just that children motivate the establishment of schools, rec centres and toy factories. And I certainly don't mean that everyone should just go out and make babies. I mean that, generally speaking, adults are highly, highly motivated to provide for their children and will work as hard as they have to in order to give them what they need.
In other words, the economy runs on love. Well, partially anyway. And it's a pretty big part. That's not something you'll see in an economics textbook. But you should. It's a whole lot better than being told the economy runs on greed. Economies that run on greed, even legalized greed, will, as we have seen, crash. Those that run on love won't. That's another one of my great economic theories.
The folks who will be the backbone of the future Canadian economy will not be the withering families with 1.6 children. Stretch that out over a couple of generations and do the math. They will be the ones who have kids, love them and work hard to prove it. The 1.6ers will go on plenty of cruises. But real riches will have escaped them. Marry and have children. Economists will love you for it. Actually, they probably won't. But your kids will. And they will likely show it.