The quote “Some people are so poor, all they have is money” has been attributed to Patrick Meagher (a Canadian journalist and author), Bob Marley (the famous reggae singer) and others. I cannot confirm who first uttered these insightful words, however, for purposes of today’s blog post, it is the words that matter, not who said it and the attribution.
In Part 2, I looked at money and success and how they impacted five key aspects of all our lives: family, career, health, spiritualism, and impact on society. My conclusion was that money and success are not one and the same but do impact one another. Meaning in certain circumstances, money can influence success, and success can determine how much money you have. These 5 key aspects can also be applied to understand why “some people are so poor” even when they have money.
During my personal and professional life, I have met many people who have made substantial fortunes and are also rich in many non-monetary ways. But unfortunately, I have also met many people who in my opinion have only money and yet are very poor in other aspects of their lives. Today I will delve into how this can be (for some readers, entitled children of wealthy individuals often come to mind when considering this quote, however, for today's post, I am only considering those who worked to create the wealth, not their children).
How can you have Money and be Poor?
In searching the internet for comments on this quote, some commentators assumed being poor meant being spiritually poor. My interpretation is that they think such a person is spiritually poor if they are lacking in religious, human and societal values. Others focused on the concept money does not buy happiness and that there are things money cannot buy such as values and relationships. Finally, some people took for granted many people want money and/or success. Yet, they felt it was important people chasing the almighty dollar also attempted to find happiness in day to day living as chasing wealth without chasing happiness would leave you empty and only with money.
Monetarily Successful People
While some successful people may sacrifice spiritualism, in my experience, spiritualism is typically not present or strong to begin with in those who sacrifice that aspect of their life.
There are people who in the name of money that have impacted society negatively, either environmentally or in other nefarious ways. But those are typically a small minority. Societal values are one area where successful people can sometimes just use their money to improve society, by just signing their name to a cheque. This can be done by funding projects for those less fortunate or giving generously to charitable causes even if they have limited personal involvement or are just donating for image purposes.
Based on the above, it is therefore my perception that those who are “poor because all they have is money” typically sacrificed family and health to achieve their monetary wealth.
Sacrificing Family and Health
The health topic is unfortunately often clear-cut. Many people work so hard to make money that they do some or all of the following: don’t exercise, don’t eat properly, drink to much or take time to deal with their mental health, which often leads to poor health or even death.
For me, family is the largest casualty of those who are so poor, all they have is money. These people are just so busy chasing money and/or their dreams that they have no time left for their family. I personally do not think most people have any intention to “sacrifice” their family in their chase for financial success. It just incrementally occurs as they excuse themselves to meet a client, work all weekend to meet a deadline, go to business dinners or travel to that extra convention to drum up more business. The energy spent trying to earn every last dollar and workaholic behaviour leads to missing a child’s birthday party, play/recital/teacher parent meeting and Valentine’s dinner with your spouse and the trip you promised your family after you closed that “big deal”. Suddenly, you are not there as a parent, spouse or friend and you compensate by buying gifts and material things, rather than giving your time.
This is the cost I have seen over the years. Marriages dissolved and children estranged and spouses and/or children with personal, mental or health issues. In the end, the parent becomes solely a bank with little to no actual familial involvement. That is my interpretation of “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”
At the risk of being simplistic (I am sure some psychologists have 100 page papers on this topic) and/or “preachy,” in my experience, the difference between those who had money and were not poor versus those that were poor was life balance. They did not need to make that last dollar by sacrificing their family time for every deal. Yes, they did occasionally or more than occasionally work too hard or too late and yes, they did sacrifice family time where the business or job demanded it, but overall, they ensured they had their date night with their spouse, attended as many children functions as possible, showed their children charitable actions both financially and by personal actions and just made family time a priority.