A while ago I had an interesting conversation with a guy in his late 40s. He essentially lives a bachelor’s lifestyle but he has been seeing a woman ten years younger than him for years and on some kind of permanent casual basis. He made it clear to her that he has no interest in having children and for some reason she is fine with it. Presumably because her options are not great. That being said, if she found some schmuck who was willing to open his wallet for her a bit more, she would likely jump ship. The conversation I had was about motivation. This guy simply told me that he feels as if he is done with life. He does not want a wife, with or without kids, and there is not really anything left for him to look forward to. He did not seem suicidal, but his perspective was perhaps not the most uplifting.
He had a particular conundrum. Essentially, he is trapped in the middle class. His job does not have the upside that may exist in some other professions, so he cannot meaningfully upgrade his lifestyle. His place is big enough for him. He is happy with the car he has, and none of his hobbies cost much money. Travel he has outgrown. His issue is that money has started to appear like some kind of video game currency to him. Of every paycheck he gets, he needs about 1/3 to cover his expenses and entertainment, and the rest goes into savings and investments, but all of this is, in his words, “a bunch of numbers that goes up and down, but hopefully up over time”. The money is there but he does not have any real use for it.
Being able to save 2/3 of your income is of course great, but what if you cannot really do anything with it because the one investment you could make is out of reach or potentially insecure? While real estate prices have been going down somewhat recently, a nice condo remains out of reach for him, and buying a standard apartment of the quality he rents is still out of the picture as the multiple is at least 35, i.e. the total cost amounts to 35 times his annual rent. With a multiple this high, renting is fiscally more sensible, but even if he bought a place, there is no guarantee that the government does not decide to enrich his neighborhood, leading to collapsing property values. If you rent, you can just move away, but if you own an apartment in such an area, you may as well write it off.
So, what do you do with more money than you think you need, assuming that your psychological desire for security is also met? If you have no interest in supporting some societal or political cause, which nobody can blame you for in the current year, then your money just sits there. In the past, society would simply have paired you up with some broad, and you got a reason for going to work. Surely, this societal model was constraining for men, but at least it gave them a purpose and arguably a much greater sense of self-worth than seeing your amount of “credits” go up. Also, what will happen to your money and possessions if you have no descendants? Well, it all goes to the government by default, and you all know how well they will take care of it. The typical reader of my blog will not have this issue. Anyone of you who chose not to settle down will find plenty of good uses for his time and money, but if you did not manage to cultivate many interests and are happy with sitting at home, watching TV or YouTube videos after an uneventful day at work, there really is not so much to look forward to.