The holidays are around the corner and can be a stressful time – both financially and personally – for many people. When we are in positions of stress and anxiety, it’s often easy for us to lose track of what’s most important.
As behavioral wealth managers, we help our clients expand their definition of wealth into six dimensions: money, time, talents, network of relationships, wisdom, and health. By doing this, we empower our clients to reflect on what they are most grateful for in their lives.
A perfect example of the power of expanding your definition of wealth can be found in a beautifully written NYT piece by humorist and writer Firoozeh Dumas. In the article, Firoozeh weaves a family allegory to convey the importance of being thankful with what you have and the power of generosity when you have more than you need.
Firoozeh and her family migrated from Iran in 1972, and her father – a mechanical engineer – grew up with few material possessions. The result? A deep emotional appreciation for what their family had beyond monetary or traditional definition of wealth. Firoozeh describes how he would “meticulously clean and repair just about everything we owned, be it a radio, a coat or a blender.”
However, nothing was more cherished, washed, and polished than their 1970s Chrysler LeBaron. Importantly, between the countless nights Firoozeh spent changing oil filters and replenishing coolant, the car served as a bonding tool with his daughter.
Yet, when it came time to sell it, he wanted $1,000. No more, no less. Firoozeh insisted he could get $1,200. This is common in competitive negotiations – try to maximize as much profit from the sale for yourself as possible. Her father agreed, but when the negotiation came and the buyer paid the full $1,200 amount, Firoozeh’s father hesitated. When he saw the buyer’s young daughters, he slipped him $200 back, insisting that the buyer take his daughters to Disneyland.
This heartfelt story underscores the need for us to focus on the emotional, not material, of life and how we treat others. For JOYN, this story serves as a great example of someone having an expanded or broader definition of their wealth to see past just the dollars and cents.
When you expand the definition of wealth, you focus on much more than just the numbers. From a Behavioral Wealth Management perspective, it could be inferred that the father’s priority was not to increase his monetary wealth, but to make a difference in the lives of others by paying it forward.
“That evening, my father could not have been happier. He had gotten exactly what he needed and I learned a simple lesson that I carry with me still, 41 years later,” described Firoozeh. “When you have what you need, use the rest to bring joy into someone else’s life. That is the best deal you can ever make.”
So, as doorbells ring and relatives with scratchy wool sweaters saunter into your home with armfuls of gifts, food, and hearts full of merriment, take a moment for to be grateful for what all that you have in your life. We encourage you to pause and reflect on the meaningful relationships you have, of your time you get to spend with loved ones, and your ability to be present in body and mind.
When we do this, we often find the greatest gift of all: happiness.
Investment Advisory Services offered through JOYN Advisors, Inc. Registered Investment Advisors. Insurance offered through JOYN Atlanta, Inc. Securities offered through Securian Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. JOYN Advisors, Inc. and its affiliates are not affiliated with Securian Financial Services, Inc.
The information, analysis, and opinions expressed herein are for general and educational purposes only. Nothing contained in this commentary is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type. All investments carry a certain risk, and there is no assurance that an investment will provide positive performance over any period of time.