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What Does it Mean to Be Wealthy?

By JLP | October 23, 2007

Hi! My name is Meg, and I’m the new contributing writer here at AllFinancialMatters. I am very excited to be collaborating with JLP, and I look forward to sparking discussions on a wide variety of financial topics. I welcome your feedback and participation, so feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions, opinions, or concerns! I also write at The World of Wealth, which is all about (you guessed it) wealth. I hope you’ll visit me there as well to share insights and strategies for getting, having, and sharing wealth.

On that note, today I want to discuss what it means to be wealthy. This is important because if you don’t know where you’re trying to go, then you can’t know the best way to get there and you might not even notice when you’ve arrived. I, for one, am aspiring to be wealthy; presumably you are too or you wouldn’t be reading this. So what does wealth really mean?

The Dictionary Definition
I was going to start by saying that there is no concrete definition of the term wealth; then I decided to actually look it up. The first definition according to Dictionary.com is “a great quantity or store of money, valuable possessions, property, or other riches.” Other definitions include “an abundance or profusion of anything,” “all things that have a monetary or exchange value,” and “the state of being rich; prosperity; affluence.”

Well, that seems pretty straightforward, if ambiguous. None of those definitions offers a tangible understanding of what exactly constitutes wealth. Apparently wealth is a relative term, since “a great quantity” or “abundance” can only be distinguished by comparison (which implies that the easiest way to become wealthy might be to simply move wherever most people have less than you. Think about it.).

The Original Definition
The most interesting thing I found is that the origin of the word is the Middle English word “welth,” from “well-th.” Literally, wealth used to mean “the state of being well.” The dictionaries declare that definition obsolete, but I’m not so sure. Aren’t we all just seeking a complete sense of well-being? The college fund, the house in the suburbs, the designer clothes, travel, the retirement fund…what we are really striving for are the values those material things represent: health, security, affection, adventure, fulfillment, and so on.

Your Definition
Your personal definition of wealth will vary based on your values but also on other factors like the cost of living in your area, how many dependents you have, and any number of other variables. Everyone is going to have different goals and standards, and that’s OK. The point is that you need to identify your core values and turn them into concrete financial goals. Then, once you reach those goals, you will truly have achieved wealth.

I know some of you might be rolling your eyes at all this talk about values and well-being. But seriously, it makes financial planning so much more fun, empowering, and meaningful when you know WHY you want $10,000 in that account, a zero balance on that credit card, or $200 extra dollars in your entertainment budget each month. And it makes spending money less painful and guilt-ridden if you know you are consciously spending in accordance with your values.

Values don’t have to be boring and serious by the way! You might be at a stage in your life when you really value attention from the opposite sex. So plan your entertainment/shopping budget accordingly and feel good about it! You value hosting and entertaining others? Remodel that kitchen and sacrifice the vacation instead!

My Definition
To me, wealth is ultimately about flexibility. I want to have choices about my relationships, what I do professionally, where I live, and how I spend my time. It’s also about security-I want to be able to financially weather any illness or catastrophe (including a stock market crash). Oh yeah–I also want designer clothes, a luxury car, a nice home in a good neighborhood and a million bucks in the bank “just in case.” Sure, I can’t have it all right now. But because I have a plan that is based on my true values, I’m well on my way. If you’re interested in seeing how my personal values translate into my specific financial goals, you can view My Roadmap To Wealth.

So tell me–what does being wealthy mean to you?

Topics: Miscellaneous | 10 Comments »


10 Responses to “What Does it Mean to Be Wealthy?”

  1. Nicole Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 8:48 am

    My definition of wealth has always been having enough income from assets to cover your living expenses.

  2. SavingDiva Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Total financial freedom. I don’t work if I don’t want to. I am able to start my own company without harming my style of living. Being able to purchase anything I want.

  3. Chris Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Being wealthy is simply having more assets (in whatever form they may be) than the other people around you.

  4. mbhunter Says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Being wealthy to me means having almost no worries about money.

  5. Free Money Finance Says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 5:19 am

    Star Money Articles for the Week of October 22

    Here are some recent interesting posts from the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond: Blueprint for Financial Prosperity reminds you to check your asset allocation. No Credit Needed got his van. Get Rich Slowly lists the seven habits of wealth. Consumerism Comm…

  6. » Weekly Roundup - Waiting for Windows Edition @ fivecentnickel.com Says:
    October 28th, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    [...] JLP asked what it means to be wealthy? [...]

  7. Roundup for week of 21 October 2007: Early Morning edition at Mighty Bargain Hunter Says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 3:27 am

    [...] All Financial Matters discusses what it means to be wealthy. [...]

  8. LIVING OFF DIVIDENDS Says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    being wealthy means have a lot of time.

    its means working because you want to, not have to.

  9. Dr. Artfredo C. Abella UB/SLU Hosp. Says:
    February 1st, 2008 at 2:23 am

    Wealthy to me would mean the ability to meet at the right time our needs, obligations, health, relationships, well intentions and even our spiritual side of life. When we say one is wealthy it could mean abundance of our own expectations in life. If we want for more money and we see a person having millions of it then we draw our conclusions that person to be wealthy. Generally, I believe that being wealthy has something to do with the ability of the person to weal a certain commerce or acts to make it prosperous and abundant. The ancient saying that to attain wealth means having to exert effort would suffice. Wealthy would only mean that the lucrative things that men would desire is in us – Money, tracts of land, deposits, investments, houses, gold, jewelries, insurance, stocks and bonds. On the other hand if we go deeper into the meaning of wealth it could mean good intentions, spiritual enrichment, physical embodiment or health and simply having plenty of assets in life as already aforementioned.

  10. Derek Says:
    September 29th, 2009 at 10:35 am

    there are many different types of wealth, whether they be monetary wealth, spiritually wealthy, or family orientated wealth. yes, monetary wealth is a great thing to have, but one good example is Michael Jackson. He was a very wealthy man, with millions of fans, and adored by many, many people, but he ended up dying alone. he got so wrapped up in what he though wealth was, big house, limos, ferris wheel in the backyard, but i think that spirituality and family are the best type of wealth to have.

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