Your Money or Your Life

Sometimes it's the simplest comments that stay with you.

I'm continuing this book tour of mine for "Your Money or Your Life" and a chap on the line wants to convey something to me about his life.

He stops only briefly, says he doesn't want to take up my time, bends his head very close to mine and says, "I was once a rich guy, Neil. Lost pretty much all of it, but you know something, I don't care."

When I ask him why, he closes with the killer:

"Because a few months ago I came close to losing my wife after a car accident. She's alive now. I'm a happy guy now."

He shook my hand again and proceeded down the line on the way out the door.

He so flabbergasted me that I wanted to follow up. But it was almost as if he didn't want me to follow up.

I thought of that man this morning, after reading a piece in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal about money and happiness.

True to form, most Americans would prefer to be rich than not. But for those with the comfy life, it doesn't appear to guarantee a happy life.

Reporter Jonathan Clement writes of those in their peak earning years — many in the peak of depression.

There's money in the bank, but nothing in the soul. They are still searching for meaning and realizing it is something their money cannot buy.

Some look to their families and find it. Others regret times missed with those families and regret it.

I wondered whether they'd be as grateful as that guy on the bookstore line last night: A fortune made and lost, but a wife saved.

I was glad many didn't have to face that choice just yet.

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