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Editor's note: Today, we're wrapping up our special two-part series from Agora founder Bill Bonner. On Wednesday, Bill shared what you should do if you are running out of time and money. Today, Bill shares his philosophy on money and how it relates to happiness...

The Baby Boomer Survival Guide, Part II

By Bill Bonner, chairman, Bonner & Partners
Friday, November 27, 2015

Today, we continue our philosophical look at what you should do if you are running out of time and money. (You can catch up on Part I here.)
Where do we begin? With how to add wealth? Or how to lose it?
The way to lose it is simple. You buy something that is not worth the money you paid for it. You are instantly poorer, whether you know it or not.
Money means nothing without philosophy... Beyond what we need to survive, money has no importance.
Is it good? It is bad? It depends.
We need a simple philosophy to make sense of it – to guide us past the Gucci bags... past cable TV... and past the million-euro apartments of the 16th arrondissement.
Not that there is anything wrong with them. But they are expensive.
And if you don't have money, you need to be able to pass up luxury, gluttony, and self-indulgence with your nose in the air... not with your shoulders bent in defeat and self-disgust.
And for that you need philosophy. Or at least aesthetics...
All people – unless they are saints or mental defectives – want to feel good about themselves. That is their primary aim in life and the only reason they are interested in money (save the minimal amount necessary for survival).
Since we are a competitive species, we feel good about ourselves in direct measure as we feel superior to those around us.
If we are trim, it does no good unless those around us are not. If we are smart, we get no advantage from it unless others are dumb. And if we are rich, it is only meaningful to the extent that others are less rich.
But so clever is our species that we are able to find superiority almost everywhere.
If we are fat, we redefine the corpulent spectrum so that we are "pleasingly plump," while others are "unhealthy" and "too thin."
If we are dumb, we focus on our "common sense," as opposed to the uncommon nonsense of the "pointy-headed intellectuals" (to borrow a phrase from George Wallace).
And what if we have no money?
Then spending money is vulgar, shallow, and pointless!
One person feels superior because of what he owns. Another for what he does not. Still another for what he knows. And another for what he knows not.
And one feels superior from who he is, while another measures his stature by who he is not.
But the one who feels superior to them all is the one who owns nothing, knows nothing, and is a complete nobody. He is free from the vanities that clutter others' lives!
In 10th-century Europe, having little became fashionable. People gave up their possessions in search of a life of contemplation.
They wanted to get away from the distractions and temptations of everyday life, so they could live in a purer way... in simplicity and godliness.
So great was the demand for poverty that the monasteries and convents could scarcely keep up with it. They had to build new ones all over the continent.
But there is no need to insist. We just need to recognize that there are people with little or no money who live well. And there are people with a lot of money who live badly.
Our goal will be to live better. We will take it as a challenge and a point of pride to do so without spending money.
We will have less, but we will treasure our frugality as a man might value a collection of old cars or well-developed biceps.
Then – as our days decline, our appetite wanes, and our energy subsides with the tide of life – our treasure of nothing increases, for we will need less and less.
A bed. A book. A candle. What more could we want?
Yes, we are talking about a program of radical deprivation and happy pennilessness. Our goal would be to feel superior to rich people... without having any money.
We will wear our newfound love of poverty as a badge of honor... and use it to get rich!
Already, we pity the rich. In our empty coffer, we have the greatest treasure of all – the hope of happiness.
Yes, dear reader: Blessed be the poor. For they enjoy the gift of ignorance. They still believe that they could be happy... if only they had more money!
This, of course, is an illusion that only the poor can afford. Rich people know better. They have too much money. They know it cannot buy them happiness. That's why the suicide rate in Aspen is three times the national average.
But how lucky are the poor! They still have hope!
They might win the lottery. They might get a raise or a better job. They might inherit money from a rich uncle. Money is always close at hand.
So, happiness must be, too... only a funeral or a lottery ticket away.

Further Reading:

Over the years, Steve's "secret to success" has produced a wealth of insights and actionable advice. Learn more about those Steve has helped – and what they've taught him, in turn – right here:
"My boss is the smartest guy I know... he doesn't talk about himself, his wants, or his needs... at all. He talks about the benefits for the guy on the other side of the table."
"These are rules to live by. And they're not just for beginners. Every investor – experienced or novice – should stick to these rules."

Market Notes


Today's chart teaches a valuable investing lesson: Buying what fascinates the average investor is often a loser's game...
One of our favorite ways to see this idea at work is by checking in on innovative camera maker GoPro (GPRO). It's not hard to see why the company is so popular... People love being able to attach cameras to their helmets, cars, surfboards, and even their dogs.
Last year, we issued a warning on GoPro. Investors had bid the company to a sky-high valuation of 10 times sales... and we noted it was due for a correction. A valuation that high is like a motorcycle running down a busy freeway at 180 miles per hour. You have to be perfect not to crash.
As you can see below, our call was well-timed. Since our bearish note in September 2014, GoPro shares have been in a steep downtrend, down nearly 80%. And the popular company continues to plummet today... Shares just struck a new all-time low on Wednesday. GoPro may sell a fascinating product... but as we've proven, that doesn't make it a winning investment...

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