PFP Financial Blog – What is the money for?

There have been many versions of the Mexican Fisherman parable below.  Whenever I come across it, it serves as a good refresh – where am I in life, what is the money for and what are my priorities.

We all lead busy lives, often times. It is important to have a plan that focuses on your goals (personal and financial) and that it is reviewed regularly as life happens.

Warren Buffett is the best investor of all time and one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is now aged 88 and I have no doubt if he met a fresh faced 20 year old with no money and his life ahead of him, he would gladly swap places.  We are all swapping our time for money – and time is one of the things we can’t buy.  The goal of a “a bit more” is not achievable and probably not what people want or need.

Story of a Wall Street Banker and a Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The American then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But how long will this take?”

To which the American replied, “Fifteen to twenty years.”

“But what then?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part, when the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich; you would make millions.”

“Millions?” asked the fisherman. “Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine, and play guitar with your amigos!”

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