Making Money Slowly
The global markets continue to experience a period of extraordinary volatility, marked by liquidity and credit concerns in the financial sector and a series of government interventions. Words like “crisis”, “bailout”, “subprime mortgage”, “credit swaps” and “global recession” have quickly become part of our everyday vocabulary. People are talking about getting back to the basics. It’s amazing how perfect hindsight is…if only banks had not loaned money to people who could not afford to pay them back, if only Wall Street had not discovered the sophisticated way of packaging these loans in order to make a “quicker” buck. While this is a simple way to look at the current economic situation, it does direct us back to the basics that our economy and country were built upon.
“Back to the basics” – what does this phrase really mean? Does it mean spending less than we make? If we don’t have the money to pay for something we don’t buy it? Is it having a clear distinction between wants and needs? Does it mean truly being a long term investor? Is it work ethic, honesty and character? It could mean all these things and more.
As I examine my own basics, I’m drawn to the best advice I have ever been given when it comes to money. I was an eager ten year old and my Grandfather gave me several chores to complete while spending the weekend with him and my Grandmother. I quickly completed the tasks and asked for my pay. I could read the disappointment on my Grandfather’s face as he reviewed my work. He sat me down and asked why I had only completed my job half-way. I quickly replied that I was in a hurry to get paid. He stopped me and then went on to explain that I must always remember to “make money slowly”. I really didn’t give this much thought as a ten year old. My only understanding was that Grandpa meant that I should slow down and do my job the right way the first time. Over the years I have thought more about what Grandpa was attempting to teach me that day and now recognize an even deeper meaning to his advice. Making money slowly means having a plan, having perspective, weighing risks, avoiding fear and greed, eliminating debt, saving for the inevitable rainy day or emergency, giving more to those in need, slowing down, listening and caring. I continue to add to this list and thank my Grandfather for his advice long after his passing.
Our country has been focused on wanting everything immediately, but now presents a time to reexamine what it is we really desire. Market turmoil is nothing new, each situation may be different, but there is a common lesson in all of them. In each case, investors and our financial system survived.
Sanity and clarity will return, as it always does after times of crisis. When such a time comes, whether in months or years, may we continue to focus on the basics, and continue to define what making money slowly means in each of our lives.