Last month I argued in favor of building wealth with money. There certainly are a lot of positive points to consider. This month I’m taking the side of stuff and arguing that as we pull ourselves out of debt and start building some wealth, we ought to be focused on having things, possessions, personal property, real property and other materials and physical resources instead of money. Am I changing my mind? Not really, I’m just looking at the other side of the same coin and being equally enthusiastic about it.
You should be too.
Let’s look at some reasons why we might care to have material things instead of money. It’s certainly worth considering.
You can put physical assets to work for you. Build up a supply of tools, and you can put yourself in business as a handyman. Get yourself a dump truck, and now you’re in the hauling business. If you have extra room in your house or apartment, you can make money by renting out the space to those who are looking for affordable shelter.
Physical assets are great barter material. I once traded a “rotary inverter” for a heavy duty weed whip. I’ve also traded one type of vegetable for another that I didn’t grow in my vegetable garden.
Items can be traded for money when you need it. Our surplus supply of chicken eggs are sold to help pay the feed bill for our chickens.Whatever you might have too much of, someone else probably has a need for.
The relative value of assets can increase greatly, whereas money tends to gain value more slowly. Real estate has often out-performed many other types of investments, especially in growing areas. Bottled water sells for much more per gallon than gasoline, so how much value is that natural spring you have on your property?
Money has come and gone, but assets have staying power. We’ve had several fiat currencies in the United States that have simply disappeared. The Continental and the Greenback are two examples. Unless you’re hovering over a sinkhole, real estate rarely disappears. Unless you’re the victim of a thief, your tools and materials rarely disappear.
The first targets of confiscation are usually liquid assets like your bank account. It’s much more difficult to confiscate a physical asset like a vehicle, a gold coin, or a stamp collection because they’re not stored as a number in an account. And, there are considerable costs associated with rounding up physical assets of others so they can be liquidated.
One of the greatest physical assets is land. In addition to growing your own food, land also allows you to raise small animals such as chickens and rabbits as a source of food. A man much smarter than me once said, “Growing food is like printing money.” Land that you own free and clear also provides you a place to live that doesn’t require regular rent payments. And, as Will Rogers advised us with respect to land, “…they ain’t making any more of it.”
So, perhaps building wealth in the form of physical and tangible assets is something that deserves your consideration. After all, once you’re out of debt and you begin to accumulate some wealth, it might be nice to have a place of your own and some things to enjoy. It’s a way to live a more comfortable life, enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Next up, let’s look at how and why one might strike a balance between money and stuff when it comes to building wealth. Not only are there benefits to money and stuff, but there are drawbacks as well. If we use a balanced approach, we can maximize the benefits of each and minimize the drawbacks…we hope.