The Full English Accompaniment – Wealth whispers

What’s piqued my interest this week?

This picture, from meta-aggregation site Reddit, triggered me.

The Shrink comes from an old family. We have an extensive family tree taking up many interconnected A1 sheets, and several books have been written about both maternal and paternal ancestors. These families are not rich. They fell from grace long before my parents came around, and many of the extended family survive at the mercy of universal credit. This is one of the reasons for my peculiar attitude to wealth. I have learnt from my family that all that is won can be lost by your children. Attitude is more important than cash. The Shrink’s great x 5 grandfather may have been a Victorian Buffett, but he didn’t teach his grandson not to splash it all on fine wine and pheasants.

This created an underlying distrust of overt displays of wealth. Encounters with people classically defined as aristocrats reinforced this. No lord gives a damn about your 68-plate Landrover. Wealth whispers.

I feel this attitude sits well with financial independence. You don’t maintain great wealth by spending it frivolously. To an extent, I think the financial independence movement needs to credit the millionaire next door concept as part of it’s roots. The original 1996 Millionaire Next Door book found that millionaires were disproportionately clustered in blue-collar neighbourhoods due to white-collar professions spending on luxury goods and status items (1). The follow-up focused on how financial attitudes (and advertising/ cultural shifts) pushed people to live a pseudo-affluent lifestyle of “freedom to consume” (2). Credit and loans means you can consume whatever you want, when you want, and deal with the consequences later. Consumerism and debt props up a stagnating economy by borrowing from future prosperity. Lifestyle magazines and the media focus on self-made stars (footballers, rockstars etc) encourages people to believe that anyone can rise to the top and have everything. And even if you don’t get that million-pound AC Milan contract you can emulate your favourite footballer by buying a Merc C-class. You just have to get finance at 18.9% APR to do it, paid for by your job managing a Vodafone call centre. Other brands are available.

Across the ages debts don’t make a person rich. Greeks and Romans knew the value of saving. Samuel Pepys turned £25 to £10,000 by working hard and saving (3). The core concepts of saving, spending only what you can afford, keeping debts and credit lines small cross-cut history and movements. Modern articles on how to be the millionaire next door could be copy-pasted to FI (4). The lesson is that you can’t get rich by ‘flashing the cash’.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading:

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Smarter Investing 3rd edn – Tim Hale – hu-bloody-rah

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day



6 thoughts on “The Full English Accompaniment – Wealth whispers

  1. > Across the ages debts don’t make a person rich

    While I agree with the thrust of your narrative, the stickler in me has to say Au contraire – it just that your debt doesn’t make a make you rich. Other people’s debts to you, however, are a totally different matter. Look at the original Nathan Meyer Rothschild 😉 And, arguably, the bond market.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true Ermine, although I could argue that is mainly phrasing. More accurately, being a debtor doesn’t make a person rich. The ancestral Shrink made much of his cash through banking and loans, so I impale my own argument.


      1. I like your coup de grace at the end.

        The lesson is that you can’t get rich by ‘flashing the cash’.

        Ain’t that a thing, and yet it’s a recurring theme of advertising because all too often we associate the flash with the cash that enables the flash.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for including me in your links as usual.

    Interesting news about Ratesetter – thus far, there’s been very little negative press or concerns about P2P, I wonder if this is just the start? I hope not as the loans are not always very liquid and may take a while to cash out. I now have very little in P2P but it’s still of interest to me.

    Also, the death of 9-5, good thing or bad thing? I’m more inclined to see it as bad more than good – yes, the hours seem rigid but it’s also structure. Fluid hours sound nice but how will they work in practice if everyone is just working different hours? Maybe it’s just my rigid mind at work here and I can’t think creatively!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m keeping an eye on P2P, Ratesetter in particular, because I agree there’s been very little negative press relating to a very fast growing sector. The cynic in me feels something has been swept under the rug. It feels like some of the high-risk lending from 2008 has shifted from banks to P2P, and if we see a downturn this risk will manifest. Might come back to this next week.

      I think the death of 9-5 is generally good, particularly as I’m an evening person and struggle to get going pre-10am. Core hours seem to work, and I certainly missed the social aspect when I wasn’t sitting around the work lunch table.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “as I’m an evening person and struggle to get going pre-10am.”

        Me too, and judging by the timing of my first comment, looks like I’d only just really woken up 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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