I was poor, then I was rich and now I’m (feeling) poor again

I feel poor againIt’s all in how you see it

Ok….so I’m not “poor poor”, but I’ve been feeling poor lately.  That is largely because of my wife’s furloughed job, with small prospects of coming back, and the increased competition in the job market, should either of us want to earn a salary again.

These kind of changes make me look at money and specifically OUR money, in an entirely different light.


Long term views on money

I’ve had the luxury of watching others make mistakes.  I’m the youngest of 8 kids and that has afford me an opportunity to both watch people gain success and fall from grace. I include myself in this “cycle” at various stretches, but the lessons I learned from watching others, have helped me wright the ship at various times. I’ve ratcheted back some of my own wild investment strategies based on others experiences.

Along with a lot of those examples, I’ve learned to “scale” my view of money.  When we had no real money in the bank, and no real sizable net worth, I used to think things like a $300 car payment, or $100 for lunch, was an enormous amount of money.  Now that I have fewer years in front of me that I do behind me…and I’m comparing those same numbers as a portion of a bigger net worth number…they don’t seem so big any more.   That’s a bigger leap than you might think.  My wife STILL, in many ways thinks those numbers are still large.  She carried her frugal lessons forward and I don’t think ever fully let them go.  That can be, both good and bad.


Little fish in Big Pond

This is kind of how I felt when I was still poor, or looked at my money as a much smaller pile, and we moved to NYC.  After rarely eating out and keeping our entertainment budget to a miniumum, we suddenly had access to everything in our wildest dreams.  Shopping, Eating, Drinking, Rooftop bars, Speakeasy bars….anything….and it FILLED our days and nights.  We could still hunt down “frugal” options, but it really opened my eyes to a different level of products, services and luxury.


Big fish in a little pond

When you have money, but not access to the things and services you want, you get frustrated.  In the future, some of this will change with improved delivery infrastructure, like drones and driverless cars…but not everything.  Some things, you’re going to need to physically show up for….and if that happens to be the “boat house” in Central Park to race your model boat with your kid….you’re going to miss that.   You will invariably miss things when you move from one location to another…but when you leave a BIG pond…. you leave a disproportionate amount of those things behind.  People leaving Philadelphia will always miss pretzels and tastykakes, but leaving a bigger market, adds, exponentially to that list. 


Big fish in a big pond

This is kinda what I call the “Goldie Locks” scenario.  Everything is just right.  You have a certain equilibrium between supply and demand.  Wealthy people want stuff, and there are people that are more than willing to provide it.  (usually with a lot of hustle).  It’s really a sight to behold when all the moving parts are working.


Be careful what you wish for

This was always the favorite saying of my dear Brother-in-law who died suddenly of a heart attack at 53 years old.  He would always make me stop and think with that saying: “Be careful what you wish for”. I didn’t grow up with that saying, maybe because we learned not to “wish” for things.  That’s the way I feel about the recent turn of events that has crippled the NYC economy.  I think in many ways, people, and policies aren’t geared toward helping big cities all that much.  What I’ve observed when I’ve visited or lived in other cities, is that when “investment money” dries up…things move MUCH, MUCH slower.  When we lived in Philadelphia for 10 years, there were several major construction projects on the “higher end” of the scale, that simply languished for years because they ran out of money.  By contrast, when there is ample, investment money, I’ve seen entire neighborhoods transformed in a single year or two.  That’s kind of why I’m “feeling poor” lately. Personally, we’ll always be able to afford to go to the “cheesecake factory” for lunch or dinner, once a week or whatever…. but all those other ancillary things and investments that go along with supporting others will simply dry up.

If things get super-tight in NYC, then that is going to be doubly true for any other metropolitan area.  It’s not a “good thing” for capitalism in general, if the largest city in a capitalistic society has significantly less or is punished.  When the dust settles on all of this, the landscape will definitely be changed.  I’m hoping that what rises from the ashes is a new and re-imagined way of doing everything.

That’s where the opportunity for the people who hustle will be.

I just wasn’t anticipating that I’d still have to hustle so much in my 50’s.









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