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The Geometry of Wealth

How to Shape a Life of Money and Meaning

By Brian Portnoy
15-minute read
Audio available
The Geometry of Wealth by Brian Portnoy

The Geometry of Wealth (2018) is a practical guide to managing your finances. Packed with financial wisdom and hands-on money-management tips, these blinks also look at the larger, philosophical questions around abundance. Author Brian Portnoy argues that material and spiritual planning go hand in hand. Take care of both and you’ll achieve true wealth.

  • Investors and savers
  • Folks looking to beat the debt trap
  • Consultants and financial planners

Brian Portnoy is an investment consultant at Virtus Investment Partners, a consultancy that helps clients plan their financial future and make sound investment decisions. Portnoy is also the author of The Investor’s Paradox. The Geometry of Wealth is his second book. 

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The Geometry of Wealth

How to Shape a Life of Money and Meaning

By Brian Portnoy
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Geometry of Wealth by Brian Portnoy
Synopsis

The Geometry of Wealth (2018) is a practical guide to managing your finances. Packed with financial wisdom and hands-on money-management tips, these blinks also look at the larger, philosophical questions around abundance. Author Brian Portnoy argues that material and spiritual planning go hand in hand. Take care of both and you’ll achieve true wealth.

Key idea 1 of 9

Financial insecurity is the new normal, and our instincts stop us from investing our money wisely. 

Historically speaking, pension plans are a pretty recent invention. In fact, they only really became common in the nineteenth century as certain societies became more financially secure.

Today, however, that era appears to be over. With financial insecurity ever more widespread, pension plans are once again becoming a rarity.

That’s because there’s been a big change in how pension plans are funded. Before the 1980s, employers typically stumped up much of the cash to pay for their employees’ retirements. Now, however, workers are expected to pay this themselves. In the United States, retirement is now most often self-funded through 401(k) investment plans.

Statistics reflect this sea-change in retirement funding. Between 1980 and the present, the number of employees entitled to a full company pension dropped from 62 to just 17 percent. The number of employees self-funding their retirement through 401(k) plans, by contrast, rose from 12 to 71 percent.

Unsurprisingly, this has created a great deal of insecurity. Take a 2017 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. It found that less than one-quarter – just 18 percent – of all Americans expect a comfortable retirement.

But here’s the real kicker: Our efforts to self-fund retirement are undermined by our instincts, which lead us to make poor investment decisions. 

Let’s unpack that. When there’s an economic downturn, we feel less secure. As a result, we begin hoarding money. And how do you do that when the economy stalls and stock prices plummet? Right – you sell the stocks you already own and put off purchasing new stocks.

But this doesn’t make any sense. Think of it this way: You don’t rush to your local supermarket when it hikes its prices; you wait for the sales. This is exactly the logic we should apply to the financial market. The best time to buy stocks is when prices are low – because of, for example, an economic crash. Put differently, if you weren’t buying up cut-price stocks during the 2008 financial crisis, you missed out! That’s a mistake to avoid in the future. 

Investment isn’t the only path to greater financial security, though. In the following blinks, we’ll be exploring some of the tools you can use to put your finances in order.

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