The billion dollar question

Sometimes you have insights which change your priorities in life. 

As I was approaching 20, I had one of those insights. 

As unromantic as it is, I believe it was prompted by reading some research by some economists, including Andrew Oswald, which regressed various factors against life satisfaction. I'm fuzzy on the exact details, but the conclusion was that income had less of an impact on satisfaction than other factors, such as being married. Events like divorce and job loss also had a bigger impact on life satisfaction than having a really substantial income. 

It prompted me to ask a question. If I had to make a choice, would I prefer to have $2 million in the bank, or a fantastic relationship with a fantastic woman? What about $1 billion?

When I put it in such stark contrast, the answer was clear, no matter what the dollar figure was. Whatever my professional or financial aspirations, they paled in comparison to finding the right person to share my life with, and cultivating that relationship.

As someone who had no problems with studying and passing tests, but wasn't so good socially, this insight reshaped my priorities significantly. Over the next few years, I spent a lot more time improving my social skills and pursuing my "cosmic mission" of finding and attracting the right person. 

As a consequence of this, my career started off more slowly than I would have liked. 

But I was successful. I'm the luckiest man in the world to be in the tenth year of marriage to my wonderful wife. 

I could be a billionaire, but if I hadn't found the right person to share it with, it wouldn't have been worth it. When it comes down to it, I'm the richest man in the world.


Sonnie Bailey

Sonnie is the founder and principal of Fairhaven Wealth.

Before founding Fairhaven Wealth, Sonnie worked in the legal and financial services industries for over a decade.

Sonnie first became involved with financial advice as a specialist financial services lawyer. For many years, he was an “adviser of advisers”, reviewing thousands of advice files prepared by hundreds of financial advisers, and providing feedback in relation to the quality and appropriateness of advice; industry best practice; risk management; and regulatory compliance. He has published work in industry publications and spoken at various financial advice conferences.

Sonnie has also worked with banks, investment management firms, insurers, and derivatives providers.

Sonnie has worked as a private client lawyer, focusing on succession, estate planning and trusts. He ran his own legal firm in Australia before relocating to New Zealand. He has also acted in independent trustee and company director positions.

Sonnie is passionate about helping people achieve their goals and manage the risks to which they are exposed.

He has written extensively on his blog, New Zealand Wealth and Risk, which can be found at

Sonnie is married to his wonderful wife Chrissy, and has two young children, Ben and Anna.