We at Singer Burke practice wealth and business management, which of course includes managing investments and developing plans to optimize the taxes, retirements and estates of our dear clients. These are all very important, tangible services with financial benefits easily quantified through performance reports and balance sheets.
Sometimes even more impactful than our help with the more obvious financial challenges is the planning we do around clients’ charitable giving, asset purchases, kids’ education, marriages, divorces, deaths and obscure legal complexities. As we help our beloved clients deal with the curveballs that life throws at each and every one of us, we gain rare insights about peopleâ€”what makes them tick. I love this part of my job.
Curveballs come reeling in at all peopleâ€”no matter how well endowed. Indeed, it is very clear that money can’t buy happiness or even shelter us from many of life’s struggles. Of course, we all claim to know this supposed universal truth, yet very few of us internalize it; we forget to make decisions based upon it. Many of us still run on the proverbial wheel, scared of not having enough even though we have so much more than that.
When Assets Are Liabilities
Our position in wealth and business management provides a valuable perspective not included in the job description.
While it is true that some of the wealthiest people are very happy, even a hundred million-plus dollars can’t protect against some of the pitfalls of life. Moreover, oftentimes the wealthiest people are not happy with what they have because they are so busy striving to make it into some contrived end zone, with an ever-shifting goal line always a few yards farther away.
The sad point is these very wealthy people could live a much more bountiful, fun-filled lifestyle if they only learned how to manage their assets. I am not talking about buying more stocks and fewer bonds. I am talking about understanding that possessions can sometimes be liabilities, not assets, if one is not careful. Cars that need fixing, houses that need maintenance, and jewelry that goes missing may get listed on the asset side of the balance sheet, but the truth is that these assets” are sometimes not assets after all. Assets are items to be leveraged for gain, personal or otherwise. When possessions serve only to eat time, weighing us down with unnecessary stress, they are liabilities, not assets.
All too often I see these possessions/assets keeping people from realizing their potential. They spend too much precious time dealing with their possessions and as a result spend less time with their friends and family, playing golf, going on weekend adventures, reading and even sleeping.
I would ask that our clients take stock of whether their assets are working for them or against them. Perhaps one of the following exercises can help:
- Take a sampling of four consecutive weekends. How much of each weekend are you dealing with asset maintenance vs. pursuing passions? Do you have time to do the activities you have worked so hard to be able to pursue?
- Take note of your thoughts when you go to sleep, when you wake up and when you commute to work. Are you worried about some issue with one of your houses, cars, or boats?
- Consider an argument you may have had with your spouse or children. Did the source of the disagreement have anything to do with your homeâ€”for example, remodelingâ€”or other possessions?
If you feel that you don’t like the results from the exercises above and that your assets may be managing you rather than you managing them, please give us a call to expand the financial planning conversation around aligning your assets with your life goals. It may make sense to consider disposing of some assets” or at least repositioning them in a way that makes more sense so that your good fortune does not become the bane of your existence but, rather, facilitates the life you have always wanted and deserve.