Living a privileged life

This week’s blog is not going to be about the bunnies, yoga, physical health/ailments, food or even DIY natural products and superfood smoothies.  Nope, this week I’m going to talk about wealth.

I was going through this document, the annual Global Wealth Report 2017 because I read an article that said 1% of all adults in the world owned over 50% of global household wealth and I just wanted to understand how this happens.

You’ve heard it before, “The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.” and now…. the 1% are worth 50% of the global population’s net worth put together.

Yes it’s the great headline about the disparity between rich and poor, designed to conjure up all sorts of emotions around “It’s not fair!”

But life isn’t fair.  It never was and it never will be.  We each come to this world with our own advantages and disadvantages whether they’re physical, mental, emotional or monetary and we arrive with any combination and number of those.

The question is, how do we deal with the cards we’ve been given?  And… are our cards really that bad?  How do we make good out of what we’ve got?  How well do we use the advantage we’ve been given?

It reminds me of this exercise on understanding privilege.

So back to this report…. the thing that I couldn’t get past when looking through the report was that 91% of the world adult population (ie does not count the entire world population because children are not included) has a net worth of less than $100K (USD) per adult.

Upon reading this, I was incredulous.  I really couldn’t understand how so many people had so little.

Since this teacher’s exercise on his $100 race, was so enlightening, I decided to do the same process for wealth:

  1. Take 2 steps forward if you don’t live in a third world country.

Source:  https://www.worlddata.info/average-income.php

These are average YEARLY incomes in USD.

If you were in Burma, it would take you 100 years to earn $100,000 USD.

People in third world countries have shorter life expectancy (40 years vs 80 years in the first world).  That means, it will take them 2.5 life times to earn $100K and many more years to save it!

2.  Take 2 steps forward if you don’t live in a second world country.

Adults in second world countries aren’t much better, earning about USD $2,500-$5,000 per year.

Just on earning potential alone, the entire second and third world population is left behind.  The developing world countries make up about 80% of the global population.  This now leaves only 20% of adults, all living in first world countries, in the lead.

Still think your life is unfair?

3.    Take 2 steps forward if you are 30yo or older.

Adults just coming of age at 18 would not automatically have $100K and will take time to earn, save and invest it.

4.  Take 2 steps forward if you have received an inheritance or help from parents over $25K.

Many people can make the $100K on their own but how much easier is it to be given a little step up?  You know, to be able to stand on the shoulders of those who stood before you?

5.  Take 2 steps forward if you haven’t gone through a divorce.

Not only do you split your accumulated wealth into 2 with a divorce, there’s the cost of lawyers and uneven splits of wealth depending on how many children you have, whether they’re still minors and who’s taken custody of them and how angry your partner is…

Divorce has been the financial demise of many a person.  Some people recover from it, some people don’t.

6.  Take 2 steps forward if you haven’t lost your money in a failed business.

You’ve heard those stats right?
80% of entrepreneurs fail within 18 months of starting a business.
50% of businesses fail within 5 years.

Whether or not those stats are accurate, businesses can be big financial risks that more often than not, don’t work.

Similar to marriages, some people just don’t learn and risk it all more than a few times.

7.  Take 2 steps forward if you’re not yet in retirement.

Retirement eats away at your nest egg.  If most of it is savings and not in high yield investments that will cover your living and lifestyle expenses plus inflation year on year, the longer you live, the less you’ll have.

8.  Take 2 steps forward for every $10K over $50K you earn per year.  So eg.  if you earn $60K, you’ll take 2 steps, earn $70K, you take 4 steps etc.

Simple logic, assuming you save proportionately the same amount of your income, you will get to $100K a lot faster if you earn more.

9.  Take 2 steps forward if you don’t have any pets or children.

Let’s face it, kids cost money and most pets of the privileged are treated just like kids.

10.  Take 2 steps forward if you’ve learned how to save and invest your money wisely.

And here it is, how only 9% of the adults of the world make it over $100K in net worth and stay there.  If you keep going with this exercise, that’s how you separate the more privileged of the already privileged.

This is where I lose my incredulity and get smacked in the face with what reality is like for the rest of the world and find some humility and gratitude for my own life and where I am.

Especially in those times where we think we have it rough, we need a little reminder of just how fortunate we actually are.

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