What does a life of wealth look like to you? Does your answer include lots of material possessions or does it include love and relationships? When I look back to a younger version of me, I see my answer to having a life of wealth as follows:
Wealthy to me is a huge house with an outdoor go-kart track and a basketball court (and maybe a hockey rink too), a handful of cars (Porsche, Lamborghini, etc.), and a private jet. I’m certain that many of you responded the same way.
But, if I think about what a life of wealth looks like to me now, I would answer it differently. My answer would look like this:
Getting to hang out with my family and friends and doing the things we love. Notice the change? Before it was all about possessions: a house, cars, a jet. Now it is more about experiences and relationships. Put another way, I am an investor and not a debtor.
Thinking About a Life of Wealth
I want you to take time and think about what really makes you happy and the feelings you get when you think about being really happy. Most likely the things that make you happiest are not material possessions. It is more along the lines of playing with your kids, reading a book at the beach, or spending a quiet night with your spouse. Realize that to be the happiest, you do not need a lot of money. You need money (a lot of money) to buy and keep the typical symbols of wealth – the cars, houses, and boats. But even if you have all of that, you won’t be as happy as you could be. By doing the things that make you feel rich, like playing golf with your Dad, you can live an extremely wealthy life.
Symbols of Wealth
Those typical symbols of wealth – the cars, houses and boats cost you money in more ways than one. First, you have the purchase price. But the costs don’t stop there. Breaking down additional, ongoing costs looks like this:
- House: Furnishings, maintenance, taxes, insurance
- Cars and Boats: Storage, maintenance, fuel, insurance, fees
While it appears to be awesome to have all of these things, the truth is that having them is costing us money from the moment we buy them to the moment we get rid of them. We’ll be working so hard just to afford them that we’ll never get to truly enjoy them.
Living a Life of Wealth
To fully live a life of wealth, you need to think about the things that make you feel rich and happy and then do the things that make you feel that way. Two things that make me happy are thought-provoking conversations and laughter. Because of this, I go out to eat with friends and we talk about issues that make us think. Then we head off to a comedy show to laugh. On the ride home, I am happiest, because I did things that make me feel happy and rich. I even get excited as the day approaches that we have plans together.
Money is Important, But Shouldn’t Be The End Goal
Don’t get me wrong, money is important. Even today, I know that I need money to experience all that I want to experience. I also know that I need a lot less money to experience what really makes me happy than I would otherwise need if I were trying to buy happiness through houses, cars and boats.
I think of owning a big house, multiple cars, a jet and a vacation home. Then I think of all of the maintenance and upkeep costs. Is the huge house really needed? After all, I would only be using 5 of the 37 rooms. Is the vacation home needed? I will be staying there only a few weeks a year. The rest of the year I have to make sure it is secure. How often will I drive the Lamborghini? I’ll be so scared of scratching it that it’ll stay in my garage most of the time. All of these things not only costs money but also costs me my health through worry.
Having The Money to Live a Life of Wealth
As I said earlier, even if you live a life of wealth, you are still going to need money, just not as much as you otherwise would. Your first step is to do a quick calculation to see how much money you need for retirement. Once you know this, you can begin to get your finances in order by creating a budget, opening up an investment account, and working to improve your net worth.
Your challenge is to find what makes you feel wealthy. My bet is that if you are truly honest with yourself you will find out that most of the things that make you happiest aren’t things at all. Stop concerning yourself with making enough money to control the world. You only need enough to make you happy and it’s probably a lot less than you think.