People are always giving me financial advice. I wish they would stop. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the concern of others or don’t believe their advice. They are just looking out for me, after all. They want me to be happy and successful, like they ostensibly are. The problem with unsolicited financial advice is that it is usually inapplicable to my life.
I do not live in poverty. At the same time, I don’t have enough money for any financial advice to really matter. There is no legal or investment decision I could make today that would lead to me having millions or dollars a year from now. When people say, “Invest in futures,” I think they are talking about some kind of robot bank. When they say, “Prepare for your retirement.” I have to resist laughing in their face.
Most financial advice is for people who are much more important than I. Or at least people who think they are.
There is one piece of financial advice that makes sense to me. It is often said that you should diversify your investments. Don’t put all your money in oil. Put some money in oil, and other money in horses! That way, should one of those markets fail, you still have other avenues toward success. This is a good idea with money, and I encourage people with money to take heed. But even people without money should listen to this. For all we fret about where we put our money, we don’t think so much about where we invest our faith.
Although it can never be definitively proven, I argue that faith is a non-renewable resource. You only have so much of it, and once its gone, it can be exceedingly difficult to get back.
There is no shortage of investment options for faith. Some people invest all their belief in government or institutions. They have faith in the constructs of human beings. Other people only put faith in their own selves, so they can take full credit for their successes. And for their failures. Millions of people put faith into some sort of abstract spiritual power. Sometimes it is God. Sometimes it is the Universe. And some people put all their faith in to plain old luck.
With so many fine options, how do we know we are putting our faith in the right place? The safest place? I’m sorry to say there is no way to know for sure. As any good biologist knows, there is no safe place on earth. As any good philosopher will tell you, there is no safe place in the universe. For anything.
God, government, other people, ourselves, and even common luck are all markets that will eventually crash. But there is hope, because they can’t all be crashing all the time.
They say the best financiers maintain a diverse investment portfolio. I cannot attest to that. But maybe finances can illuminate the human condition, to help us see that the happiest people have diverse faith portfolios.
Is it better to believe in one thing a lot, or in a lot of things a little?