Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Never Going to Retire

For a man who never thought about money, it was confidence that built him monetary and emotional wealth. This is just how it is for Murphy*, who works out of his home in a small-business that he owns with his wife. When he’s not in his office, you’ll likely find him on a golf course with friends or entertaining his family. For him personal finances are not something to worry about, rather money is just the means of gaining true wealth- doing the things he loves most and being with those who he loves most. To continue my series interveiwing people in (or very near) retirement and their views on money I asked the following:

SCS: When you were 26-years-old how did you view money?
Murphy: You expect me to remember what I thought of money when I was 26? I can't remember anything from when I was 26- that's 40 years ago! I am old and have learned that the older I get the less I know and the less I remember.

I think that when I was 26 I didn't know my a@@ from a hole in the ground. Money didn't mean anything to me, other than the next pizza or chocolate-chip cookies.

SCS: When you were 26-years-old how did you view wealth?
Murphy: Wealth meant nothing to me.

I figured that some day I would figure out what I would do about money, and the wealth part never entered my thinking. I wasn't much of a thinker; I certainly was not a planner. Wealth was the last thing I would be thinking about.

SCS: How do you think of money now?
Murphy: When I apply myself I can make a lot of money, but the money does not mean anything to me.

Except I do like going to the Post Office to see if a check has arrived on time, and if I see an envelope with a window on it- I know it's a check. Then off I go to the bank with my business stamp and deposit slip, and enjoy handing a big check to the teller to deposit.

I think I now know why I enjoy Wells Fargo so much (Wells Fargo has been our business bank for 30 yrs). Whenever I bring a $20-30,000 check to deposit and hand it over to a teller they have to get it approved by the manager. I watch them look me up and down in my torn 49er t-shirt, unshaved, and my dirty Maui hat. Then I nod, they nod (they know me) and they know I am a success. It gives me pleasure to do that again and again.....kind of childish behavior, but, I go with it every time.

SCS: How do you think of wealth now?
Murphy: I guess with our pension plan (for 25 years), how we have saved, our home, and other stuff, I guess it means something to me.

When we met with our new stock broker, Tim Moore, he helped me see the retirement plan as the future. Honestly it doesn't mean that much to me, ‘cause I plan to keep on working ‘till I drop. I want to be the first 100-year-old recruiter!

Work, golf, and family..........that's the wealth thing for me.

SCS: What events in your life shaped your current beliefs about personal finances?
1) I have never spent a lot of money. If I had enough for a good hunk of chocolate, that was enough.
2) My father. I guess knowing how hard my dad worked and the sacrifices he made during the depression have had some influence on my thoughts about finances.
3) My wife. My wife has hammered me into the ground with how one does business, saves, takes care of the future with savings, mutual funds, etc. We are worth a lot of money, but it doesn't mean shit to me.

As a result I work hard, golf twice a week (keep my score in the low 70's), buy some golf balls once in a while ($15), green fees ($18-40), gas for the car (Prius), I pack my own lunch, a movie once in while, restaurants when I’m too lazy to cook (my wife is not a very good chef) - and that's all.

What I am trying to say is that neither money nor wealth has been a motivating factor in any way in my life. And still, I am proud of what I have accomplished, that I enjoy my work, my family, and friends.

I say, keep your eye on the real prize.........happiness, enjoy what you do, don't worry about $$$$, be fairly honest, have good friends, stay close to relatives and friends (always call 'em), and be generous to those who do not have much or have faced tragedy.

*Murphy is not his real name.

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