Wealth Matters: Build It, Manage It, Share It
What is Wealth?
What is wealth, and why should we seek it?
Much of the modern American cultural narrative is centered around the pursuit of money and everything that is supposed to come with it: power, glamour, sex, and fame. Or at least a McMansion, luxury cars, exotic vacations and five figure annual tuition bills. The American Dream is all amount getting rich, and those who can’t or don’t are alternately ignored, ridiculed or pitied.
Just make sure not to get too rich, or else you’ll automatically grow a green aura of evil, greed and oppression.
Money is neither good nor evil of course; it’s just a tool. In fact, it doesn’t even have any intrinsic value. You may glimpse this reality when you visit a foreign country or even another American region and realize your dollar buys either a lot more or less than you are used to. Consider this definition from dictionary.com.
Money: Any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits.
The advent of money was an incredible enhancement for civilization, and we need it to survive in the modern world. Like the conveniences it can buy, however, money can either be abused, wasted, or used to enhance our lives.
Why does this matter? Money is a sensitive, often misunderstood concept. The terms wealth and money are often used interchangeably, but it is important to understand the distinction. After all, if we are going to be pursuing wealth (and we are!), then we need to define the concept. Hint: it’s about more than just amassing giant piles of money.
1) A great quantity or store of money, valuable possessions, property, or other riches.
At first glance, wealth seems to be the same thing as money – just a lot of it. But consider this second definition:
2) An abundance or profusion of anything; plentiful amount.
While money and wealth are certainly related, wealth is a much broader and more subjective idea. Being wealthy can certainly mean you have lots of money, but since money doesn’t have intrinsic value, what are we really talking about?
Freedom. My favorite definition of freedom is “the power to determine action without restraint.”
Independence, or “freedom from the control, influence or support of others.”
Attaining true freedom and independence requires more than just money. You must have control of how you spend your time.
Time is the ultimate resource, and having an abundance of it to do as you please is the epitome of wealth. Being in control of one’s time is the single defining feature of wealthy individuals across history. Poor people have always been chained to their jobs (sometimes literally), whereas wealthy people – even those without much in the way of material comfort – were free to read, travel, invent and discover things, or spend time with family. Or drink, gamble, or invade a nearby village, as the case may be.
Attaining “wealth,” “retirement,” or “financial freedom” really boils down to being able to live comfortably according to your values while controlling your time. Maybe you still work; maybe you even continue to earn money. But you have accumulated the means to support yourself and your family at a basic level indefinitely, without having to count on your next paycheck.
I openly admit to pursuing wealth, and that journey is the focus of this blog. Not so I can live in a nice home, eat decadent food and travel in luxury (well, not just for those reasons). More importantly, I want to have options no matter what life may throw at me. I want to be in complete control of my time as soon as possible without having to be concerned about what someone else is willing to pay me.
Of course setting financial goals and striving to accumulate money is part of the game of modern life because that is what it takes to escape society’s hamster wheel of working, spending, and consuming. That cycle can be enjoyable and diverting, but it can also be empty and exhausting, and it doesn’t get many people closer to true wealth or happiness.
This blog focuses on methods for accumulating wealth, how to optimize and manage wealth once you have some, and how to use it to make your life and the world better.
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Yours in Wealth,
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- How to Use Home Equity for Down Payment on a New HomeBy Elizabeth Grahsl on May 31, 2016