A couple of weeks ago while mindlessly scrolling through the usual motivational poster type rubbish which frequently fills my Facebook news feed I spotted one which actually made me stop and think. I can’t remember the exact wording but it went something along the lines of:
Warren Buffett (86) is the worlds most successful investors with a networth of billions of dollars, and yet would you swap places with him?
Billions of dollars? Sign me up! But at 86 years of age… not a chance in hell. You see, while being rich might mean you can access better healthcare and live a better lifestyle.. no amount of money is going to be able to ward off death forever. I’m fast approaching 30 which means I’ve got another 50ish years of average lifespan to enjoy. How much should I charge to knock 1/5/10/49 years off of that? When we go out to work, we’re effectively sacrificing our own time for money which had obviously lead to the new early retirement mindset I’m happy to see becoming more mainstream. However I don’t think that’s comparable to trying to put a real value on actually years left to live. What value could you possible put on that time?
Aside from having (hopefully) many decades of life ahead of them, the young have better health and energy. They’ve got more opportunities to change their lifestyle or careers or even where to live in the world. Financially they’ve already got far longer to accumulate investments and longer from which to recovery any mistakes or losses. A banking crisis in your 20s is unlikely to have anywhere near as much impact as one in your 50s would. You’ll have less capital from which to suffer % drops and a longer time-span to recovery through accumulation and market corrections.
Through one of my roles volunteering with a student organisation I hear alot of young people right at the start of their adult lives complaining about how tough things are now, and how pessimistic they are about their future. They look at what they have now purely on a capital calculation and compare it to the older adults in their lives. Instead they should be focusing on the richness they automatically possess by being young and having the time ahead of them to achieve that future capital accumulation, should they even want it when they get there. These young people might find things tough now, but they have the opportunity to change how their lives will progress. Being free of a mortgage, children and deeply invested career at a specific company means they can go out and try new jobs, switching if they want or moving to new parts of the country. It’s this time ahead of them which makes them rich.
The ironic thing is though that most of this wealth of time really won’t be appreciated until it’s running out, which is a real shame. The young are already rich.. they just need to realise it.