You’re stylish. You’re affluent. You’ve got a fabulous house, fashionable clothes, and lots of fun toys. Life is luxurious.
You’re in an enviable position. While many people struggle to make ends meet, you’ve succeeded in monetary terms. Sure, you still complain about the price of gas and the dismal stock market—who doesn’t? But in reality, your biggest financial challenges are how to grow, protect, and enjoy your assets. Enjoying your assets may seem like a simple task, but is your use of wealth accurately reflecting who you really are?
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of work- ing with individuals who ranged from well off to high-net-worth to just plain old filthy rich. As much fun as money can be, it is a complex subject. For most people, somewhere along the way it makes sense to think about what all this money means.
What is your Wealth Style?
If you’re living a life of luxury, you’re at a point where you can begin to define your true Wealth Style. Your Wealth Style doesn’t neces- sarily reflect what you buy or wear; it describes what money really means to you and how you want to use it in order to best express yourself and your values to the world.
As in fashion, you may have one Wealth Style at one point in your life, but may reevaluate your relationship to money as your life and your inner financial voice evolves. Taking a look at your distinct Wealth Style can reveal if your use of money is consistent with the way you want the world to see you, your future security and even the philanthropic legacy you want to leave.
The Risk Taker
No holds barred! Is your Wealth Style over the top? Do you always have the latest fash- ions, the newest technology, and cutting edge brands? Are you willing to try anything to make a bold statement? If this describes you, you’re daring, edgy and original—living for the now! For you, money is a means to express your fearless personal style, but it is also a way to get attention.
What does it mean if you’re a wealth Risk Taker? As we say in the investment world, those who take big risks can make a killing— or they can get killed. Is your spending ap- propriate in terms of your income, or are you also pushing the envelope with your shopping sprees? You might want to examine whether you’re managing your money in a risk oriented way as well. Are you gambling with your future security in order to make a statement today? Ask yourself if you’re taking the steps you need to remain financially healthy for years to come. If you know deep down that you’re going a little too far, or feeling fatigued keeping up with the latest thing, you can always take it down a notch. Your style can still be chic and new while you take care of your financial present and future. Go buy the insurance you need and hire a great money manager if the mundane financial details bore you. If you want to do good in the world, you might choose to convey your dynamic spirit by championing innovative philanthropic causes.
Do you stick strictly with the classics in terms of clothes and home furnishings? Do you go back to the same tried-and-true vacation spots year after year, have one “signature” drink and love the established styles? Are you a Blue Chip stock, investment-grade bonds type of person? Most Traditionalists are understated, eschew risk, embrace old school brands, and are slightly embarrassed by drawing attention to themselves. If you identify with this Wealth Style, you probably give money to established national or international charities and avoid flashiness.
What does it say about you if you’re a Tradi- tionalist in your Wealth Style? While timeless can always be elegant, the risk you take is being left behind. Investors talk about the concept of “lost opportunity cost,” which means that excess conservativeness may actually cost you money. If you sock your cash under the mat- tress where it can’t earn interest, for example, you won’t beat the historical inflation rate. Ask yourself if you’re too focused on stability. While Traditionalist money habits are admirable, including sufficient insurance and a conser- vative investment strategy, I’ve seen wealthy individuals with this profile forget how much fun money can be. Sometimes you need to break out, take an example from the Risk Tak- ers, and try something new. Surprise everyone by taking an adventure vacation, buying some leopard print, and volunteering for a totally unpredictable charity that touches your heart.
The Gold Standard
Somewhere in between The Risk Taker and the Traditionalist is a nice blend that includes both moderation and boldness. The Gold Stan- dard doesn’t mean average or boring—it means being responsible and fun, each at the appro- priate time. If your Wealth Style is The Gold Standard, you have a clearly defined approach to fashion—you like certain classic designer— but are willing to break out with a crazy acces- sory or a statement piece from time to time. Your home is chic but comfortable, practical but cozy. You like quality, function and conven- tion, but you understand that a well-placed pink flamingo or outrageous picture frame can bring lightness and laughter in the midst of convention.
If your Wealth Style is The Gold Standard, you probably have a well-diversified long-term portfolio. You save regularly and have sufficient insurance. Philanthropy is an important and established part of your life, and you’ve focused your giving so that your dollars can really make a difference. You like order and discipline but you don’t cling too tightly to either.
Your Wealth, Your Style. Now that you have achieved affluence, take some time to think about what money means in your life. You have the opportunity to use your prosperity to express yourself and also to make a difference in the world. As you progress on your journey of material comfort and luxury, take time to consider whether you’re making the best of your good fortune.
by Suzanna de Baca