What is wealth?
Merriam-Webster defines wealth as: Abundance of valuable material possessions or resources. Investopedia states wealth is determined by taking the total market value of all physical and intangible assets owned, then subtracting all debts.
By either standard, many people are already relatively wealthy, but does living up to these definitions make someone truly wealthy?
Investor services corporation Charles Schwab conducted a survey of one thousand Americans. They determined that only 18% of those questioned defined wealth as “being able to afford anything I want.”
28% felt that wealth was “living stress-free” and “obtaining peace of mind.” 17% considered it as “Loving relationships with my family and friends.”
The same survey found that people feel saving and investing are key components to creating wealth over time, but spending time with family and having time for oneself were what made people feel most wealthy in the present.
Ironically, the same survey determined Americans need to possess $1.4 million to live comfortably. It would seem being wealthy really is all about the Benjamins.
Despite all people having the same twenty-four hours in each day, wealth looks significantly different from person to person.
ListenMoneyMatters.com added education and the jobs people do as being defining factors in wealth. Yet secondary education and the highest paying careers are both products of, and causes of, financial well-being.
The word wealth can be traced back to mid 13th century England. Back then those previously mentioned antiquated definitions were how the word was defined. After that it gets hazy.
One blogger suggests that in the 15th century the word became transformed into the modern definition. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t cite where their finding came from. And that’s all there is to be found on wealth’s definition’s transition.
So is wealth a six figure income? Is it a bank account balance? Is it a mansion full of material items and luxuries?
Monetary wealth certainly makes some things easier. Having more money means less stress in getting the bills paid each month.
Maybe only the poor and less fortunate believe wealth cannot be defined by money and material possessions. Maybe broke people have an easier time thinking they don’t need as much as society programs people to believe.
In any case, most people still make the acquisition of money and things a high priority. The quest for pay bumps and new items to purchase is interminable. Yet the more money people make, the more they think they need to spend. The more money they spend, the more they have to make.
Those with luxury in excess take notice of others who have more and nicer things. It stokes their desires further. It leads to more frivolous and asinine purchases. In reality none of those who fall victim to the cycle of more ever seem satisfied. They can’t comprehend the meaning of the word enough.
People don’t need to make $100,000 to be wealthy. They don’t even need to make their career a top priority. This is also true of having fancy cars or a huge house.
Creative pursuits, health, wellness, family, and friends make much more valuable assets than money and things ever will. Doing what one wants, when they want to, doesn’t require modernity’s defined wealth.
Humans are born innocent. As children they learn to play. They experience freedom that they won’t comprehend until they’re much older—if ever.
Somewhere along the way imagination and dreams become stifled. People become reprogrammed. Creativity and youth are replaced with a drive to obtain more. An updated idea of what being wealthy means becomes embedded. Then people run with it.
Nobody needs all those zeroes on their account statements or paychecks to actually be wealthy. Socializing, creating, exploring, and even relaxing, are far better forms of wealth than any retail therapy or collection of things can ever bring.
Self-esteem, purpose, and solid relationships are the pillars of real wealth. It’s past time people re-redefine it in their own lives.
Written by John Andreula
Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk