Courtesy of The New York Times, people from both within and without the United States have learned about the story of Nick Martin and his family. In an article that appeared on November 29, we read about what happens when someone mishandles a windfall of money ($10 million, in this case, received from the sale of a family business). I would encourage you to read the article yourselves, and you may find it here:
I have always said that the quick receipt of a financial windfall of such a size that it represents wealth by any measure does not change character as much as it reveals the true nature of one’s character. That may seem unkind to Mr. Martin, but the reality is that no one, ultimately, is compelled to spend even a dime of such a windfall in any remotely speculative or frivolous fashion. They do so because they choose to do so…and when they do so again and again, well, the sympathy factor among the rest of us tends to drop to a value of zero.
To his credit, Mr. Martin seeks not our sympathy but rather to simply tell his story, which he has done at the risk (and realization) of embarrassment and ridicule. If he has anything of real value left, it is probably the illustrative benefit of his story, which we should all be grateful he decided to share.
While it is tempting to want to hold responsible the simple misfortune at being left without a chair when the sweet songs of national and global financial stability and comfort stopped playing in 2007, a closer examination of Mr. Martin’s circumstances shows us that a greater adherence to modesty would have gone a long way to keeping he and his family from serving as another example of riches-to-rags hardship amidst the current economic collapse.
As for his real estate acquisitions, those, too, appear to be characterized by a strong measure of overindulgence and misguided judgment. Contrary to what some have come to think these days, real estate can be a worthwhile, long-term financial asset, but the transaction associated with acquiring a piece of property has to itself be characterized by great due diligence and analysis.
Measured, reasoned investing, and that which is without measure and prudence, may both technically be examples of investing, but in reality the two have little in common.
Being scared might have been an overreaction, but as a first reaction, it is very telling. He was scared and intimidated, and he liked it that way. Turns out, that trepidation is what ensures he will always have his money; it is his emotional backstop, one that will prevent any wild financial pitch he errantly throws from becoming irretrievable. Over time, as he forces the existence of the money to adjust to his temperament, rather than changing his temperament to accommodate the availability and temptations of such a sizable sum, he will surely partake of indulgences here and there, but he will always have what he needs to care for he and his wife, come what may, as they age.
Being acquainted with him as long as I have, I know that he came by his nature both at the behest of his upbringing as well as at the behest of his innate personality. However he came by it, that reserved approach to both money and life has served him well, and should the aforementioned Mr. Martin ever find himself with another windfall, behaving in a similar fashion will surely serve him as well, also.
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Bob Yetman, Editor-at-Large at Christian Money.com (www.christianmoney.com), is an author of a variety of materials on personal finance and investing, as well as on topics of fitness and self defense, to include the recently-released book Investor's Passport to Hedge Fund Profits (John Wiley & Sons, Inc; www.investorspassport.com) and the new unarmed combat training DVD Thunderstrikes - How to Develop One Shot, One Kill Striking Power (Paladin Press; www.mikereevesonline.com).