Assets are things that can be converted into primary wants.

Primary wants are things people want for their own sake. That may be tasty food, catchy music, a comfortable house, a lush garden, fulfilling work, interesting conversation, fresh air, loving relationships, good friends, a happy family, a healthy body, absence of pain, absence of fear, laughter, safety, respect, or prosperity for future generations.

Assets are things that can be converted into primary wants. Money is the classic example of an asset; you want money not for its own sake but because it can be converted into some types of primary wants, perhaps via other assets. Similarly, no one wants health insurance for its own sake, they want the peace of mind and care it would provide if they needed it. Examples of other assets are time, trust, plumbing skills, absence of debt, effective monetary policy, a recognised university degree, environmental laws, intellectual property rights, the deed to a house, a resilient personality, and a rule of law.

Primary wants are what really matters, but assets are how you fulfil them. Therefore, you need to invest your assets to maintain or increase your ability to satisfy primary wants in the future. If you have money, you might invest it in the hope that you will increase or maintain your future purchasing power (which is affected by inflation and scarcity). If you want a garden to enjoy in years to come, you might invest your time and resources into planting seeds. Or you might simply invest in acquiring skills that will help you acquire more assets.

The better you are at investing your assets, the better you will be at fulfilling your primary wants, or those of others. So invest in getting better at investing. But remember that assets are a means to and end and not the end itself.

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