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The Paradox of Wealth: Achieving Freedom Yet Feeling Bound


Have you found wealth in your life?

In the journey to amass wealth, many envision a life of freedom, choices, and enjoyment. However, a striking paradox emerges for a considerable number: the more wealth they accumulate, the harder they find it to truly enjoy the fruits of their labor. This phenomenon is deeply rooted in behavioral psychology and sheds light on the complex relationship between wealth accumulation and personal fulfillment

At the core of this issue is the concept of psychological wealth, which encompasses not just the tangible assets individuals amass but also their subjective well-being and perceived financial security. For many, the pursuit of wealth is driven by the desire for freedom—a highly individualized concept, varying from one person to the next. While for some, freedom means the ability to travel the world without financial constraints, for others, it might be the peace of mind that comes from knowing they can support their family no matter what.

Yet, despite achieving financial success, a significant number of people struggle to enjoy their wealth due to deeply ingrained behavioral patterns and fears. One key factor is the sunk cost fallacy, a cognitive bias that compels individuals to continue investing in a certain path simply because they've already committed significant resources to it. Translated into the realm of wealth, this can mean continuing to hoard money out of habit or fear of loss, despite having more than enough to secure one's desired lifestyle.

Another critical aspect is the hedonic treadmill effect, which suggests that as people make more money and acquire more things, their expectations and desires rise in tandem, leading to no permanent gain in happiness. This perpetual chase can trap individuals in a cycle where wealth accumulation becomes an end in itself, rather than a means to achieve personal freedom and happiness.

Moreover, societal pressures and comparisons can exacerbate the inability to enjoy wealth. In a world where social media often highlights the extravagant lifestyles of the ultra-rich, individuals may feel their own achievements are inadequate, pushing them to accumulate more instead of enjoying what they have. This social comparison theory underscores how our sense of satisfaction is influenced not just by our own achievements, but by how we measure up to those around us.

Mental accounting, another concept from behavioral economics, plays a role too. People tend to categorize their money into different "accounts" (e.g., savings, vacation fund, etc.), which can lead to irrational spending behaviors. For someone who views their wealth as strictly for future security or legacy, dipping into it for personal enjoyment can feel almost taboo, even if doing so has no real impact on their financial stability.

Addressing these psychological barriers requires a shift in mindset: recognizing that true wealth isn't just about the numbers in one’s bank account, but about achieving a state of freedom that aligns with one’s personal values and desires. This shift often involves setting clear goals for what one wants their wealth to achieve and allowing oneself to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

The path to enjoying one’s wealth is as much about navigating psychological hurdles as it is about financial planning. It’s about redefining success to encompass not just financial freedom, but the liberation to live one’s life according to one’s own terms. Only by confronting and understanding these psychological barriers can individuals truly enjoy the benefits of their hard work, achieving a sense of fulfillment that transcends material wealth. Afterall… shouldn’t you enjoy it?

-   Grant White.

This information has been prepared by Grant White who is a Investment Advisor/Portfolio Manager for iA Private Wealth Inc. and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iA Private Wealth. The information contained in this newsletter comes from sources we believe reliable, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or reliability. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. The information contained herein may not apply to all types of investors. The Investment Advisor/Portfolio Manager can open accounts only in the provinces in which they are registered.

iA Private Wealth Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization. iA Private Wealth is a trademark and business name under which iA Private Wealth Inc. operates.


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