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March 27th, 2015

Managing Money from a True Wealth Perspective

By Ron Nakamoto

The following series of short stories evolved from a recent conversation I had with Glen Snyder, an Empowered Wealth Certified Facilitator from Davis, CA.gsnyder

We were talking about the recent unprecedented retirement at age 24 of Chris Borland, a professional football player with the San Francisco Forty-Niners. After considering the potential for permanent brain damage and other debilitating injuries, Borland decided that his long-term health and well-being were more important than the money, status, and the lifestyle of a professional football player. ESPN published an excellent article on Borland’s retirement

For Glen, this not only affirmed the Empowered Wealth concept of True Wealth, it provides us with a visible, public story to tell.

Here’s part of what Glen had to say:

“My approach to money mirrors the thinking of Chris Borland from the San Francisco Forty-Niners. His story resonates with me because I think his world view and my world view are pretty similar. He made a decision based upon his thought that continuing to play professional football had the potential of damaging his future life – his mental, his physical, his emotional health. He had done all the research and he basically made a decision that the risk was too great. In so doing, he sacrificed a significant amount of money.

I think this is pretty reflective of my approach to money. I’ve always asked myself, “How much is enough?” I’ve never made making money the ultimate objective. I think a lot of people get mixed up and think that money is the objective. I think that money is a means to achieve objectives but it’s not the objective itself.”

One of the key questions that we ask in our presentations and our workshops is “What do you value more than financial assets?” In our experience, “health” is one of the first three answers that come up (“family” and an expression of spiritual beliefs, religion, or faith are the others). Lee Brower often follows this with the observation that we say that we value these “Core” assets more than money but that we often sacrifice them for more money, status, and “things” by working long hours in stressful occupations that damage our health and our closest relationships.

The Empowered Wealth concept “True Wealth”, based on four categories of resources – Core, Experience, Contribution, and Financial – is, in part, a framework for thinking about money, wealth, and wealth management. Another story from this conversation with Glen Snyder provides an example of how this framework can guide thinking and decision-making.

I reminded Glen that Empowered Wealth uses a military term “V.U.C.A.” – which stands for “volatile”, “uncertain”, “complex”, and “ambiguous” – to describe the world we live in. This is particularly true for most people when it comes to money and making financial decisions. Glen responded by telling me a story that has shaped his current thinking about money.

Glen:

“For years, I had a man who’s a CPA and a Certified Financial Planner who did our taxes and handled all of my retirement accounts, my investments, and some of my wife’s accounts. I gave him a lot of freedom and didn’t follow it, didn’t monitor it. The stock market was going up and everything looked great. We moved from the area but he still did our taxes and handled things for me.

We had been gone from that area for about 10 years when my wife inherited some money. She got in touch with someone here local and made some investments. Then all of a sudden, her new advisor got a notification that there had been paperwork filed to transfer a large sum of money. When she looked into it, she discovered that our long-time financial planner had forged my wife’s signature. Shortly thereafter, we got a letter from a large financial institution that this man was under investigation for forging signatures, the very thing that he tried to do with my wife.

So at that time, I said to myself ‘I’m really done with financial planners and advisors.’ I took all of my accounts – all of my 403(b)’s and my IRA’s and put them into ‘house’ accounts. I just don’t trust anybody anymore. I went extremely conservative. I don’t mind people making money but that left a very bad taste in my mouth. So I withdrew from that industry.

So I have this money sitting in an account. It’s an FDIC insured account earning less than one percent. So I’m getting nothing on it.

One of my golfing buddies does life insurance, annuities, and other investments. He asked me if I was interested in a three and quarter percent for five years annuity. He said it’s with a large insurance company and that if they go under, a lot of people are going to go under. He said, ‘Do the math.’

But I looked at the numbers and thought, ‘Okay. I can make a couple of thousand dollars a year…How much is enough? Is this worth my peace of mind?’ He doesn’t really know or understand my history, my past, my world view. I would rather have peace of mind than a few thousand dollars. To forfeit peace of mind for a minimal amount of money doesn’t seem sensible to me.”

Glen’s story is an example of thinking from a True Wealth perspective, not just a wealth management or money management point of view. Glen went through a thinking and decision-making process that was informed by his Empowered Wealth Mindset, a uniquely personal attitude and frame of reference that includes his own personal narrative wisdom, vision of the future, and focus on what is most essential.

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