“Hum. That’s funny. My High Wasp family lost all their money (which is a bit more traditional, I have to say, and you know how we feel about traditions). As a result, our lessons about money were the opposite, but of course from the same root.
Root Lessons: Never show off. Honor. Excellence. Hard work, even if you don’t need the money. Integrity.
But our overriding lessons were: Always live off the interest, never touch the principal. Know exactly where all your money is. High Wasps don’t invest aggressively. Diversify. Put a lot away for a rainy day. Never ever brag. Stuff doesn’t matter, family matters (unless it’s family stuff, then you may never sell it unless you need it to eat.)
So. I don’t know. Perhaps good things come from losing money.”
“Always live off the interest, never touch the principal.” This seems to me to be a philosophy with greater implications than preservation of financial security. The concept of interest and principal is fairly profound. Think about it. That for everything there is an initial investment, and then there is the interest? The generated return? This could be true of relationships, true of careers, true of hobbies, true of learning. In one way of living, you make the initial investment and then gather returns. Invest up front, manage carefully subsequently. Mitigate risk. I think there is clearly virtue here. Living thriftily and carefully and honorably.
Unfortunately, some of us are not temperamentally suited. We just can’t do it. Some of us make good investments and then liquidate everything and go to Africa. Some of us make good investments and sneakily dip into principal when the interest doesn’t get us what we want, and are then surprised when suddenly we have nothing. Some of us one day see a huge opportunity looking at us in the face, sell off everything and invest. Some of us then succeed, in relationships, careers, hobbies, studies, beyond our wildest dreams. Some of us then lose everything.
I believe I share those root values Meg mentions, “Never show off. Honor. Excellence. Hard work, even if you don’t need the money. Integrity.” But if I look back at my life I would have to acknowledge that I am prone to taking risks. To sometimes having the proverbial eyes bigger than my proverbial stomach.
All of what I say is true. I still don’t know if it matters.