At a point in time for everyone the things we do, think, and feel are conscious choices with real consequences. At 7 years old, for example, we can choose to take out the garbage when told – or not. Or, we can choose at 12 to think that sneaking over to a friend’s house at 9:00 p.m. would be fun – or risky. Or, at 20, in a tense situation we can choose to feel aggressive – or tame our response.
In day-to-day life we make many choices, each with consequences. Nearly all of them are based on short term risk and reward. If you don’t take out the garbage, no allowance. If you get caught sneaking out, you’re grounded. If you lash out with anger, someone gets hurt. Personal responsibility is a sense we develop over time. We are certainly not born with it. Consequences are good teachers – if we listen and if we moderate our behavior. Again, a choice.
When it comes to money, and having enough and it lasting until we’re dead, most people don’t choose wealth. Maybe it’s apathy (someone or something will take care of me later), maybe it’s fear (of failure or ignorance), maybe it’s guilt (about being rich or successful). Maybe it’s education or environment. Maybe it’s nature or nurture. There may be all kinds of things to blame.
However, I believe most people don’t consciously choose to be or remain poor, particularly when being poor later in life likely means increased struggles. I’m fairly sure I’ve never heard a person say, “I’m really looking forward to being low on cash when I retire.” It’s just that most people don’t actually choose wealth – they don’t choose to learn about how to be wealthy or they don’t act on opportunities to achieve it.
Yes, we take quite seriously that reasonable and responsible people should not be poor. With all the resources available to help people how is it that (depending on the survey) about 50% of US retirees have less than $25,000 saved?
Here is a simple scenario: If a person saved $5.00 a week ($260 a year), and increased the amount by 3% a year for 35 years, and the saved/invested money grew 5% each of those years, then they would have over $35,000. Yeah, it ain’t much, but it beats the surveys!
What if a person chose to learn and do things that over time enhanced their potential to be wealthy? So, maybe it could be desire, and discipline, and determination. Maybe it could be personal responsibility to improve the opportunity for wealthy consequences. Maybe those things are too hard or too foreign.
Maybe you’ll try choosing wealth instead of not.