What Does It Mean To Be Wealthy? A Question For The Individual

What’s more human than aspiring to great wealth? Money cures everything, right? But as Brett Schatto writes, you can’t put a dollar value on being ‘rich’.  

Nothing shines a light into the corners of humanity quite like our fickle notions on wealth. What do we aspire to? What do we envy? What do we consider success?

At the end of Cinderella, the heroine doesn’t marry a cobbler, she marries a prince. The message? Money equals happiness. For a more contemporary take, we have Hollywood, churning out countless glossy yarns concerning young, high-flying corporates who have all the money but still seem to be missing ‘something’, which they promptly find when circumstances send them packing to somewhere rural (read ‘real) and more rewarding. So, instead of money equalling happiness, it now appears we have to make a choice between the two.

These stories simplify life to the point that it becomes unrecognisable. Unlike the values extolled in Cinderella, money doesn’t always equal happiness. But this also doesn’t mean we have to decide between the two, as Hollywood (ironically) would have us believe.

Life is full of decisions and compromises, most of which aren’t easy or simple.

Money begets money, not happiness

What does it mean to be rich? What do we expect to find when we attain it?

Many people believe that having a larger income means having more money. It simply doesn’t work that way. In the vast majority of cases, more money means more expenses and often more debt.

Is a person who earns $1,000,000 a year with expenses reaching $1,050,000 richer than a person who earns $80,000 a year with expenses totalling $60,000? I don’t think so.

Money can’t be the end goal. Where would it end? What is enough if there’s always more to be made?  Plus, a larger income doesn’t protect you from failed marriages, divorce, alienated children, cancer, dementia, depression, snoring. And it certainly doesn’t protect you from death.

I’m not saying that aspiring to more money is the wrong move. I’m saying that it can’t be your only move. Deciding on what ‘rich’ means is a personal thing; it’s something different to everybody. Perhaps you want to be able to donate more, perhaps you want to delegate unsavoury tasks to paid professionals (such as cleaning), perhaps you want to be able to help your family financially.

If I was asked to give a general view on what wealthy means, I’d say that it’s a person who could stop working tomorrow and continue the lifestyle they choose. But within this definition are countless variations.

If you hesitate when asked, ‘What does it mean to be wealthy?’, you need to have a think about it, maybe a conversation with those close to you. Now is the time to decide what you aspire to, what your goals are and what you want your future to look like. Think about what you want to be rich in.

Once you’ve made up your mind on what you really want out of life, we can then take a look at your financial situation and see how ‘rich’ you really are. And if you’re not there yet, we can help you map a path that will see you join the ranks of the wealthy. Whatever that means.

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