The Tortoise Has Retired, The Hare Is Still Running

Many people spend their time hoping to get rich quickly, like winning the lottery, or getting an unexpected inheritance from a distant relative. The reality for most is that, like the tortoise in the old story we heard as children, slow and steady wins the race !

The tortoise and the hare both started at the same starting point in life. Both came from middle-class families. They were neither so rich as to be able to afford the many luxuries in life, nor so poor as to not have the basics of a roof over their heads, regular meals and a good education.

Mr Hare was all ready to go from Day One after graduation. He was going to prove that he would get out from his middle-class roots and move into high society. Both he and Mr Tortoise managed to land jobs in the same company. Each began to work his way up.

Mr Tortoise worked steadily. He did what he was told, sometimes he had a little spark of brilliance, but for most part, he was just the reliable steady worker. Mr Hare was determined to get ahead quickly. He put in long hours, made sure the upper management noticed him and very soon, he was moving through the ranks much faster than his old friend, the tortoise.

Mr Hare felt he had to keep up with his rising status, and his high income. He bought a bigger house, and a bigger car. He married a beautiful hare who knew how to dress well and make him look good during the company gatherings. Mr Tortoise plodded along. He bought a modest little home, had a second-hand car, and married sensible , if slightly dowdy Mrs Tortoise.

Both were promoted as the years went by. The tortoises stayed in their modest home and had 4 little tortoises. The hares upgraded their home and car every few years to keep up the image. While they bought country club memberships and overseas holidays, Mrs Tortoise bought little houses with the aim of generating rental income from them.

The junior tortoises went to college on scholarships. The junior hares went to the very best private schools, paid for by Mr Hare. Mrs Hare did not want to be associated with Mrs Tortoise. She could not believe their husbands were collegues. She was glad they did not live in the same neighbourhood.

Soon the junior tortoises and junior hares graduated and started work. Junior tortoises had grown up in a frugal environment and lived within their salaries. Junior hares found they could not get the lifestyle they were accustomed to on their meagre salaries. So Dad and Mom helped out.

One day, on his fifty-fifth birthday, Mr Tortoise sat down and did his sums. He realised that his rental income from his four little houses was more than his salary and perfectly adequate for them to live on comfortably for the rest of their lives. The young tortoises had grown up and started their own races. The senior tortoises did a bit of travelling, spent time with their grandchildren, but otherwise, their lifestyles did not change much. They still lived in the same modest home they had bought when they got married.

On his fifty-fifth birthday, a tired Mr Hare sat down and looked at his finances. He realised they only had enough savings to last them about three months, if he stopped working today. His salary was their only means of income to support their lifestyle. The young hares had started work and now needed their parents’ help in putting a downpayment on their new homes. They said things were different now. Life was harder and they just could not afford to have the same lifestyle they used to have on such low salaries. But they did not know how to live any other way. Mr hare realised there was no hope of retiring anytime soon.

When the older tortoises died, they left behind a large sum of money in a trust fund for their grandchildren, and have a substantial amount leftover to give to charity. The junoir hares wondered where all their money had come from.

When the hares died, they left nothing for their children. There was even a small mortgage left on their beautiful large family home, which the younger hares were unable to pay off. The home had to be sold. The junior tortoises could only watch sadly as their friends were forced to downgrade, wondering why their apparently rich friends were really so poor.

Not everyone will follow this route. But for most of us, slow and steady still wins the race in the end.
Karen Cheong believes we all have it in us to be rich – really ridiculously wealthy. We just need to learn to unleash the potential.

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