One of the discussions that we always seem to be having in this country has to do with what constitutes “wealthy.”
Are you “wealthy” if you make more than $250,000 a year, or do you need a net worth of at least $1 million to really be wealthy?
Questions about what it takes to be wealthy swirl around various factors, including:
- Is it more about income?
- Does net worth matter more?
- How big of a role does location and cost of living play in wealth?
- Do measures of wealth always have to be in terms of comparison?
The answer, of course, is that what we term “wealthy” is relative.
Someone with an annual income of $300,000 who lives in San Francisco might not be nearly as wealthy as someone who lives in Salt Lake City making $150,000 a year. How much money you have left over after paying your living costs can be a big deal — and it’s one of the reasons that so many people are against using the $250,000 annual income as a threshold for tax policy measures.
While it’s practically impossible to define “true” wealth on a broad scale, though, it is possible for you to determine what you think it means to be wealthy.
Your Financial Definition of Wealth
The first step is to consider your financial definition of wealth. Leave aside what other say it takes to be “wealthy.” Look at what would make you feel wealthy. In my case, it’s not about reaching a certain number. Some consumers feel they will have “made it” when they have a certain net worth, or when they have a particular income.
I prefer to look at wealth in terms of what my money allows me to do. Do I have enough money to cover my survival needs? Can I do most of what I want? If the answer is yes, I feel as though I have sufficient financial wealth. I am able to save for retirement, go on trips, and afford to live in my current location. I don’t need a certain type of car, or a big screen TV, to feel as though I’m wealthy. Instead, I like the idea of being able to use my money how I want. The choices make me feel wealthy.
Your Non-Financial Definition of Wealth
Of course, wealth isn’t just about money. There are other ways to view wealth. I like to look at my family and friends. Do I have people in my life that I care about? Do I feel like they care about me? What about health? The ability to pursue interests and hobbies? Can I feel a connection to my community?
All of these are questions that go into your non-financial definition of wealth. For many people, having a huge pile of money doesn’t assuage feelings of loneliness, or make up for the fact they feel no real purpose in life. If your life isn’t rich with experiences and love, can you really consider yourself wealthy, even if you have a lot of money?
What do you think? What is your definition of wealth?
When I was a kid, my mom would say “we’re rich now. Someday we’ll have money.” I never understood how that could be then, but now I totally get it. I am so wealthy in that I have a fabulous husband and son. Having survived breast cancer but living with a chronic liver disease, I treasure health more than money. We have sufficient money for everything we want but in my definition of wealth, money is third on the list.
Tyler @ BibleCents says
For whatever reason, I find “wealthy” to be a seriously loaded word. It seems to come with all this baggage linked to self-worth, entitlement and jealousy. In fact, I’d go so far to say that when most people say “wealthy”, they actually mean “has more than me”. For example, when someone says “my Boss is wealthy”, when I read between the lines, they are generally saying that their boss has more than they do.
I think the term “wealthy” is far too dependent on meaningless comparisons between yourself and others. So much that I don’t think it is even worth trying to save the word at this point. To me, it is probably better to just say wealth. “I am working on growing my wealth”, “that homeless man doesn’t appear to have much wealth” and “Bill Gates has a lot of wealth” are all clear statements that don’t seem to conjure the same emotional response.
At some point, someone decided that “wealthy” should be something to aspire towards and remains a benchmark of success in our present day culture. If you agree with my statements above, then the goal of life can be summed up in “having more than those around you”.
Matthew 6:21 says,: “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
If having more than others (money, friends, family, income, etc…) becomes your life goal, you are in for some serious heart issues going forward. I’d say work on growing your wealth but don’t get side-tracked with trying to feel wealthy.
Mrs. Frugalwoods says
I measure wealth similarly to you–it’s about being able to comfortably afford the necessities in life. For me, it’s also the ability to view a financial crises or challenge (like a car repair or even a job loss) as an inconvenience but not a disaster. Having the savings to enable us to not live paycheck to paycheck is, for me, the ultimate definition of material wealth.
Great post! It is important to distinguish both between people with different costs of living and between financial and non-financial views of wealth. As a Christian, it is also important to remember that there is a spiritual side to wealth. We are wealthy thanks to Christ’s sacrifice. The more you reflect on this fact the less financial wealth really matters.
Ephesians 1:18-21: ” I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
Maggie Squarepennies says
Wealth us when you don’t have to consider how much something costs when you make a decision with your personal finances. Of course business decisions are different.
To me, real wealth is a loving family that is there for you through thick and thin. Health comes in a close second! Many of us are already wealthy with this definition. And often “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”