drip, drip, drip – wealth accumulation is silent!

By | July 13, 2007

Drip, drip, drip! Is that the sound of rainwater dripping from the guttering? Or is that the sound of your wealth dripping gradually into your account?

We’ve owned a number of different assets and asset classes over the last fifteen year: property, a business, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, bank accounts, etc.. and each of them has prospered over that time in the same fashion – Drip, drip, drip!

In Taiwan, house property is measured per ping. A ping is generally the size of a traditional Japanese tatami mat. Since we purchased our house, we’ve seen our house value increase about 50% or more per ping in seven years. In addition, we were fortunate enough to be able to buy an additional car park. More than that, we’ve spent the last seven years paying down our mortgage slowly. All of these have resulted in a net increase in our equity stake in our house to approaching 60% from the initial 20% at outset. But all of this has been achieved quietly, regularly, and opportunely.

Our business, too, rarely has much excitement, though the students making progress and developing mastery of a complex linguistic system is thrillling. As a business, the mechanics are silent: counting the bills, updating the accounts, paying the bills and taxes, figuring out our profit margin (if there is any!), and so on. There is little hype compared to working for an Internet giant, like Google.

Stocks and mutual funds, too, move up and down silently. They pay (usually) dividends that are paid quarterly into your account. There is little fuss, excitement or pzzazz over the payments, profits, or losses. The numbers just sit there mocking you if you are doing badly, teasing you if you are doing well.

Bonds, CDs and bank accounts pay interest in similar ways: you go into the bank, update your passbook, check your account or renew your CD, and suddenly the interest payments are there. Silently. Mechanically.

There are no whooshing sounds, no zaps of lightening, no cheering or clapping: just the sound of footsteps to the banking machine to pay the regular payments, and to take care of the other regular details. It’s the silent wealth effect. It’s a lot less glamorous, less fun, less attention seeking than winning at Las Vegas on the poker table, getting a jackpot at Atlantic City on the slots, or winning the Lottery.

Which would you rather have – the drip, drip, drip or the heavy thunderstorm of wealth building?