Letting your unconscious thoughts and wishes determine how to invest is never a prescription for long-term wealth accumulation. All money is fungible. No dollar is different from any other. Money should all be treated the same way: with due care, an awareness of risk and reward, tax consequences, and generational consequences.

4. You can only invest what you don’t spend

Freud may never have heard of serotonin, the brain chemical that regulates our self-esteem, but he did perceive how unconscious yearnings for love and status guided the lives of his patients. Not only can our investments be swayed by unconscious strivings, but so can our purchasing decisions. Manipulated by manufacturers, marketers and advertisers, we’re left with less money to invest. That means the growth of wealth is stymied—and you can end up with a bunch of pricey, aging stuff, Citizen Kane-fashion.

One example: parity products, such as top-shelf and off-brand vodka, or luxury cars and their vin ordinaire equivalents. These are functionally and practically identical, but not emotionally. Vodka, domestic or imported, is grain alcohol, regulated by the Federal government and chemically identical save for a trace of methyl alcohol–wood alcohol, a poison—in one Russian brand, discovered on spectroscopy by my organic chemistry professor at Columbia years ago. The premium price of that brand made that taste all the more alluring. My father’s 1993 Lexus ES 300 was little different from the top-of-the-line 1993 Toyota Camry, but the Lexus had the cachet he loved. Lexus is an acronym for “Luxury Edition eXport United States,” but a Freudian might suspect a condensation of the words luxury, sex and statu

Now you won’t impress a client or a date by driving up in a family sedan or ordering no-name vodka, but consider this: Ernest Hemingway, in his observations of the truly rich, observed that the more one has, the less one needs to display.

If you need further proof, consider this: Even after he became a billionaire, Jeff Bezos drove a Honda Accord.

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