BYOB & Five Other Wealth Principles

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Day two of the WealthyWellthy Mastermind was concerned entirely with wealth: growing it, investing it, and protecting it, purposefully.

We heard from meaning-driven advisors Kelly Kidwell and Jason Giorgio, and explored new ways to move our money and invest.

Here are the six major wealth takeaways from the #WWMastermind weekend:

Retirement is a myth.

I like to call retirement the “Deferred Life Plan”. That’s because many people structure their finances – and their entire lives – around the concept of retirement. And in doing so, they sacrifice their happiness and neglect all that brings life meaning. Why? Because they believe their lives are going to somehow magically be beautiful once they have reached a certain financial number or age (and no longer have to work).

What really happens is this. When “retirement” is your goal, it becomes the purpose of your life. So you sacrifice everything for that “number” or age. Going to your child’s basketball game. Working through family vacations. Putting off dream purchases until “someday.”

If “someday” even happens (for some it doesn’t), you might be one of the lucky ones. Except that studies show once people reach retirement and are no longer working, they enter existential despair. Retirement equals a loss of the identity, accomplishments, and relationships built through a long career. Doesn’t sound so great, does it?

Instead, let’s try self-actualization.

Here’s an alternative: self-actualization. This is the principle of becoming your best self. There’s no set number or age. And you don’t have to put it off. Self-actualization is an ongoing process that starts in your youth and continues until your dying day. In financial terms, self-actualization is achieved when you reach the point where you no longer work because you have to, but because you want to. (For those who are interested, this is part of Mazlov’s Hierarchy of Needs…once all other needs are cared for, a human has the possibility of full self actualization.)

When your focus in life is self actualization, your focus becomes doing your life’s work. Your career is a way to fulfill your reason for being, and not only do you build financial stability along the way, you build meaning. You save for the future and invest in today. Because there’s no “there” to get to. You’re already “there” because the goal of life is living as your best self every day. Not waiting for some “tomorrow.”

Besides, life is not about a number.

If retirement is the goal, life becomes about a number to hit. And what financial planners and common financial strategy will tell you is that your goal is net worth and capital at work. And when you get “there” (enough capital at work), you can stop working (which equals loss of identity and meaning by the way).

Here’s the problem. Their math is off. Almost all people suffer a reduction in their standard of living when they “retire.” So they sacrifice so much only to downsize. You’ve heard people talk about that, haven’t you? We say it as if it’s a choice. But would you really choose to move in your 60s or 70s? Moving is stressful. And do you really want to leave the house you raised your children in? Or the house you settled into as your kids left home and you could enjoy some of the luxuries you’d put off while they were growing up?

Who wants to give all of that up? Not me. I think there’s a better way.

So instead of Capital at Work, let’s try something better: guaranteed cashflow.

Instead of focusing on Capital at Work, let’s focus on cashflow. Cashflow is king. Capital at Work only matters for the amount of cashflow it can put off.

Going back to the idea of self actualization, that moment of freedom happens when your assets produce enough cashflow to take care of your monthly expenses. At that magical moment, you don’t stop working. You work simply for the love of it. You use your identity and everything you’ve built to give back to the world on your terms.

So as you think about building assets, shift your thinking to cashflow. Better yet, plan for Guaranteed Cashflow.

Did you say, “guaranteed cashflow”?

Yes! Nothing in life is guaranteed, eh? Well, there are a few things that are nearly that, financially speaking. What many financial planners are missing are several of the tools that can help you produce guaranteed income in retirement.

I don’t have room today to go into the details. But two ideas you need to roll around are Whole Life Insurance and Annuities. These are two tools that get a bad rep, because of bum insurance salesmen selling people products they don’t need or that aren’t in their best interest.

So take the time to become a smart consumer. Follow me or start doing your own research on these two products that most people are missing from their portfolios. Barron’s recently put out a report on the Top 20 Annuities. So this is in the news. Just start watching for it.

BYOB: Be Your Own Banker. (It’s your job.)

My final point? It’s one I often make. It’s your job. Even with Whole Life and Annuities that can produce guaranteed income in retirement, these tools only work to produce the greatest return if you’re moving and managing your money to make the most effective use of your dollars.

So you need to be your own banker. Take responsibility for your own money. Don’t buy a Whole Life policy and just leave your money there. From an ROI standpoint, you’d be better off investing in equities. However, if Whole Life is part of your strategy for protecting your assets and your loved ones AND you use the cash value to produce additional return through other investments, you’re golden. That’s how you use an investment (and your dollars) multiple ways and exponentially amplify your returns.


Ultimately, the #WWMastermind awakened us to self-actualization, and the ways to reorient ourselves to live with purpose. Revisit the top health revelations from the weekend here, and stay tuned for the next entry about building a legacy!

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