Monday, November 7, 2011

What about "Security"?

So living this life of vagabondery...
Living our lives without as much as a by your leave...
Gypsies free as the wind...

What about security? Don't you get asked that? What about your own (usually financial) security?

Well, living like this doesn't mean I should remove my responsibilities towards ensuring my own well being.
It's just that because I have pared my life to very little overhead, it doesn't take much money to maintain my life.

But mistake it not, I feel secure.
I make money... sometimes plenty of it.
I save some too... sometimes in places I cannot touch so I don't spend it.
Having said that, I must say I invest my money in people... not corporations.
Friendships and loved ones, not in stocks.

And here's why:

When you spend your money on people, I believe you get a better return on your investment in terms of companionship, love and loyalty.
Take this example. I have a wealthy aunt out on the West coast. You can never count on her to help financially or otherwise. Not even her own sisters could ask for aid.
She loves talking about "personal responsibility" and coming up "the hard way" --sound familiar?
Oh, you bet it does.
In fact, my relatives who all talk like that... are all curiously wealthy... but have very few true friends.
Then of course, the financial meltdown happened and all that money my aunt was hoarding "for her own security"?
Well, you can guess what happened to all that trust placed in a corporation and complete strangers...

I have another aunt farther away in our homeland... she saved almost nothing during times of plenty --always lending and giving people aid and money. But when hard times struck, those who criticized her (Aunt #1 included) said: "See? if she saved all her money, she would not be in this situation she finds herself in!"
But then, those who she helped and she was kind to helped and rallied around her. And money does come... sometimes from unexpected places (one source was me --I never needed her aid, yet I donated because she was my aunt and in need --yeah, the guy with the least salary among my relatives had something to give.).
My aunt did not get a bonanza in return. She got enough to get her over her crisis... just enough. Today, she is doing better than ever.

So, who among the two aunts can you say lives a life more secure?
Every year around this time, we see reruns of "It's a wonderful Life". I think another lesson can be learned from that which does happen in real life... Not just that you matter, but what I draw from that is that George Bailey gave everything he got without holding back... and in the end, everyone whom he helped really did rally around him in his time of need.

It's really a micro version of what social governments strive to do and are all about. We all need each other and no man is an island. The community helps one another in times of good and bad.

Barring any financial disaster, you can make a really good life investing in stocks and bonds... the proliferation of retirement communities is proof of this. And that's their choice... to live there in gated apartments... their children (most often) living far away... them and their spouses going on cruise ships... it's a financially secure life with no surprises. Then of course, they'll will be able to afford a caregiver to wipe their bottoms when they reach old age... and a high class hospital for the end of life care... (getting the one visitor they get a day, if at all)... If they're happy with this, hey, that's their choice.
In my experience, though, having witnessed this type of life a lot in others... it's a life not worth looking forward to.
of course, it would be great to have the best of both worlds... to invest in your loved ones and in your own stock portfolios. But that scenario is rarely the case for normal folks. It's mostly either or for the rest of us.

I choose to be George Bailey --or be like Aunt #2. They are blessed in friends and family... True loyalty and love can never be bought.


  1. Oh decisions, decisions, decisions! It really wasn't a hard choice for me (I'm a fan of George Bailey and Aunt#2). Aunt #2 sounds a lot my late-grandmother. She gave so much to other people. When she was gone, my family and I still reaped the benefits of her kindness. That generosity went much further than she expected, and I'm glad that giving was her legacy.

  2. We all have plenty of Aunt#2's... :) I don't collect fair weather friends because of this.. by now, I have an inbuilt radar for those types of people and you can spot them easily after a few rounds of conversation... :)