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The other day I was talking to a colleague about wealth and how humans are at a disadvantage, because we die. He didn't quite get what I meant at first, but essentially a company operates as a human that can generate wealth and own property, but it never has to "pass on" that property as it never dies, meaning there will never be an inheritance tax paid on that ownership as it never gets transferred. However, there are other loopholes in there too, where for example dividends have already had tax paid on them by the company, which is almost invariably lower than personal tax, meaning that the gains made by an investor are taxed at a lower rate than personal income. These percentages add up over time and can make massive differences at retirement.
Also, this is a big part of the reason that share remuneration is more attractive than getting the cash. For example, Tim Cook from Apple got paid about 3 million in taxable income, 12 million in bonuses and then, 82 million in shares in 2021. This means that he pays the personal tax on the salary, owns the shares (that could go up or down) and pays the tax on the dividends when paid, which is lower than he would pay if getting the same amount in salary. He also had 5 million shares vest in 2021 - about 750 million dollars worth.
The rich get richer for a very good reason.
Essentially, because of the way taxes work in general around the world, ownership is going to bring in additional benefits and that means that those who own will invariably get wealthier, while those who rent will get poorer, increasing the wealth gap. But, this is obvious, isn't it? Even those who don't rent, but don't invest, are going to be "penalized" for not earning through passive income mechanisms.
Of course, none of us live forever and eventually, all businesses fail, but this is part of the reason that investments into bluechip stocks are so lucrative, as even though there is little chance of fast gains, the compounded dividend gains over time, combined with the tax benefits make them "safe" bets. However, many people (especially these days) are looking for the short win, because the are seeing it from the perspective of their own mortality, which is an unknown quantity, but our psychology tells us to "live now" rather than invest for tomorrow.
Life is not guaranteed tomorrow - and neither is death. However, we should probably look at it statistically as to whether we are going to invest into the possibility we will survive a new day or not. If we are 30 years of age and healthy, we should probably look at ways to save money where we can and invest it into living a long life. If we are 30 and have stage 4 cancer, we might choose differently, depending on other factors- like whether we have children or not. If we are 70 years of age, we might want to spend less time saving, but that is going to depend on what we did when we were 30, isn't it?
I was reading of a pensioner who drives around to 4 supermarkets to chase bargains, as she only has 100 dollars a fortnight for groceries, which is very, very little in Australia. However (and without knowing her history), is this a case of the economy collapsing or, the decisions she has made in earlier life? Obviously, each case is unique in many ways, but again, shouldn't we play the numbers?
Statistically speaking, those who invest into generating passive income will be in a better financial situation at retirement than those who don't. Knowing this means that the Average person should be doing what they can to get invested, because the average person is going to reach retirement age, because that is what the statistics tell us.
We also know that statistically, the people whose parents invested are going to likely have a better financial life experience than those whose parents didn't, so even if we don't survive, if we have children, it is in their best interest that we get invested. And, since parents claim the "as long as they are happy" mentality in regard to children, it is also in our best interest to invest, as there are very few people who are happy in financial instability.
It would be interesting to know what households fight over the most, cross-referenced with the impact of that argument topic on experience. For example, fighting over the remote or leaving dirty clothes on the floor or, arguing about how to find the money to buy new school clothes for a child. I'd say, that a lot of the stress we experience in life that provides negative experience centers around our ability to make money, save money, spend money and provide money in some way. Having money doesn't stop the arguments about the dirty clothes, but it does mean not having to worry about which brand of cheese to buy. Then, factor in other stressors that are money related like childcare, illness and entertainment, and "having money" takes out a lot of the worry, possibly also lessening the chances for other arguments.
The fact is, we are all going to die, no matter how much or little money we have, but if we are looking to maximize our quality of life experience, I'd suggest that doing what we can when we are younger, will lead to a better general quality of life across other factors that might not be money related - like relationships. Rather than talking about what can be afforded, the conversation can be about other more personal values, the kinds of things that make life worth living.
Some people live to be rich, thinking that it is the amount of money they have which brings happiness, but money is just a tool. This tool though, can be used to affect our direct experience in this life in numerous ways and as such, having the tool available in the toolbox is valuable, especially when in some cases due to the way society functions, it is the only tool for the job.
I guess, the thing we have to each work out for ourselves is what quality of life means to us now and also, what we expect it to mean to us in the future. It is impossible to accurately predict what the future holds, let alone how we will feel about it, but perhaps we should try to simulate a future where we are struggling to feed ourselves and visualize telling our child that we can't afford for them to go to school. Is that the experience we feel we will want at that point in our lives?
Statistically, very few of us are going to ever be financially wealthy, but this doesn't mean that we can't affect our financial outcomes and increase our chances of building a life experience we value. And, perhaps like exercising or a sport, financial consideration becomes a hobby that provides value too, meaning that it isn't just the endgoal that we are chasing, but it is adding to our daily experience positively too - something few seem willing to admit. Perhaps it is because of the social stigma we put on the acquisition of money.
The saving grace is that once we are dead, like everything, we don't have to worry about any of it again. We can die poor in the same way that most of us are going to die without sixpack abs, as highly proficient musicians or a person who discovers a cure for cancer.