There’s a lot of focus on how to become wealthy and get rich in America (after all, that’s many people’s interpretation of the American Dream); but what does it actually mean to be wealthy? Once you’ve achieved wealth, what do you actually do with that wealth?
Studies have shown that it takes an income of about $70-75K in order to be ideally happy, and that additional income either has no effect or actually decreases happiness. A Bloomberg study says that participants believe you need $2.4 million to be truly “wealthy”. Does that mean that it’s impossible to be happy and be wealthy at the same time? Of course it doesn’t- but it does mean that an increase in wealth does not automatically lead to an increase in happiness.
To truly be a happy, wealthy person in America you have to reexamine what it means to you to be wealthy. Perhaps your income doesn’t meet the threshold for traditional “wealth” but you’re still financially comfortable, or perhaps you’re wealthy in a myriad of ways that aren’t necessarily financial. Either way, you’ll benefit from having a healthy mindset around wealth.
Wealth Is About More Than Money
It’s not just about how much you have in the bank; true wealth is centered in other aspects of life. Quality relationships and memorable experiences are some of the biggest benefits of wealth that can be neglected. Having a lot of money frees you from many of the financial worries that plague Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re going to pay rent or afford to take off work for a family vacation. Wealth can allow you a higher level of freedom in the financial decisions that you make, but it can also allow you to be free elsewhere in your life if you let it.
When you get caught up in work, take the time to remember that you’re not fighting to survive. You have the comfort and financial security to take time for yourself and be present. Engage with your loved ones and make time for them now, because no amount of money will turn back the clock. Even if you end up losing out on certain financial gains in order to be present, you won’t be putting your ability to feed your family in danger. Use your wealth to establish a work/life balance, because you didn’t work hard for years in order to continue working just as hard without any of the benefits.
Be Smart About Your Wealth
Many newly wealthy people end up making terrible financial decisions that leave them back where they started (or worse, in debt). The most important thing that your can do once you’ve been lucky enough to achieve a level of wealth is to invest your money. Investing is the luxury of people who have money to invest, so take advantage of your ability to let your money make you money. Be smart and hire a financial advisor to help manage your finances, because chances are the money you spend on them will be well worth it.
Come up with a financial plan and write it down. You should always be seeking to grow and improve, and having a plan will help you to keep moving forward. There’s no point in life where you achieve the final victory; life is about growth and change. Having goals will give you continued purpose and meaning after you’ve achieved your goal of personal wealth.
Chances are you didn’t get where you are without a little bit of help from other people. Mentors, parents, and even friendly bosses can each help you along the path to wealth and success. Consider giving back to others what was so freely given to you. By mentoring another person who’s looking to make it in the world, you can continue the cycle and put your wealth to good use. After all, money is no use to anyone if you keep it all in the bank and never spend it. And fostering positive relationships with other entrepreneurs can help provide you with friends who’ll be there for you in case finances take a turn for the worse. The more people you help, the more people are willing to help you in return.
Charity is something that every wealthy person has the luxury to give more to than others. While you can give a little no matter how much you make, being wealthy means you’re able to make a much larger difference to the lives of the people whom the charity helps. If you find a cause you care about, you can even consider starting a new charity to help raise money for it. Wealth can mean power, and that power can be used in a positive way through giving.
Find Your Purpose
Wealth can be attainable for almost anyone if you decide what it means to be wealthy. Financial independence is having the ability to pursue your life’s purpose without being dependent on work to make ends meet. For many people, wealth is about being able to do what you want without financial concern, which can essentially be the same as financial independence. In order to truly be financially independent, you have to have a purpose to pursue. Many wealthy people find that the pursuit of wealth was their purpose and, having achieved it, they are now directionless.
Rather than hang up your coat and quit, take this moment to pause and figure out for yourself what your purpose should be. One of the benefits of being wealthy is the ability to take time for you, so take advantage of that and do some real soul-searching. Ask questions, read, and travel; do anything you can to really get to know yourself and who you are. Once you really know yourself, you’ll be able to find that greater meaning in your life. Pursuit of that meaning is true wealth.