Wealth is invisible to the eye
In his book “Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth“, financial advisor Nick Murray wrote:
“No matter how much money you have. If you’re still worried, you aren’t wealthy.”
This is a provocative statement. Indeed, If you have a particular inclination to worry or chase money, no matter how good is your net worth, you will still worry. The right mindset and the ability to be content are prerequisites for living and enjoying your life. If you think of wealth as financial and personal well-being, the provocative message unveils: no matter how much money you have. If you’re still worried, you have not yet achieved personal and financial well-being.
Spoiler alert: more money won’t be the answer or the end of your worries.
Defining wealth is not straightforward. No doubt, there are different schools of thought. Your relationship with money and wealth has much to do with your family values, religions, politics and mindset…to name a few. But ultimately, how you define and relate to wealth is personal.
Still, let me share a few thoughts that might spark some extra perspective.
8 ways to look at wealth:
1. Wealth is about financial independence: If you are “rich”, your income provides you more than enough. However, even if you consider yourself rich, you still need to work to maintain your lifestyle; you might even live paycheck to paycheck if your expenditures are as high as your income. In his book The Millionaire Next Door, author Thomas J. Stanley explained, “If you make a good income each year and spend it all, you are not getting wealthier. You are just living high“. On the other hand, if you are wealthy, the cash flow from your assets (investments) is greater than your living expenses. As such, you are wealthy when you are financially independent: you live within your means and have a system that secures enough cash flow.
2. Wealth should be measured in time, not in money. If you are on the path towards financial well-being, you want to create passive income systems that cover your living expenditures. These systems will free up your time. That’s financial freedom.
3. Wealth is about having options. Wealth is about having “a margin of safety (MOS)”, It is about “FU money”, a buffer against potential or unexpected shocks. It is still up to you to take action, grow and make the best of your assets (time, skills, money).
4. Wealth building vs wealth consumption: different habits for different seasons. To properly understand wealth, you have to look at wealth building. How do wise and successful people build it? Too often, news focus on how people spend their wealth instead of looking at how they have built it. If you look at wealth building, you will notice the importance of managing your budget (live within your means/keep overheads down), and investing in yourself, your assets, your business and your projects. During the wealth-building phase, there is limited space for distractions and waste of resources and assets.
5. Wealth has a lot to do with your mindset. Wealth has a strong correlation with a “growth mindset”. It also requires a peculiar balance between being “hungry” (looking for what you desire) while being content and frugal (controlling your budget and costs).
6. Wealth is about financial well-being: it requires balancing money’s mental, spiritual, and physical aspects. That means how we think, feel and act about money, finances and investments. Is this an area that causes stress, anxiety, and fear? Do you know why? Can you do something about it?
7. Wealth is what you don’t see. Wealth is the nice cars not purchased, the “frills” not bought. Wealth is an asset that has not yet been converted into what you see. When most people say they want to be a millionaire, they might mean, “I’d like to spend a million dollars.” And that is literally the opposite of being a millionaire. If you want to be wealthy, you must defer consumption. (Morgan Housel).
8. Wealth is not being a money junkie. Ok, there are “successful” people that enjoy the process. Think about Warren Buffett: he likes the process, he enjoys the game, he enjoys the satisfaction. He is not there to spend the money. Money is a scorecard for Buffett.
A similar point is made in The Money Game, by Adam Smith:
“The irony is that this is a money game and money is the way we keep score. But the real object of the Game is not money, it is the playing of the Game itself. For the true players, you could take all the trophies away and substitute plastic beads or whale’s teeth; as long as there is a way to keep score, they will play”.
For Felix Dennis (One of Britain’s wealthiest self-made entrepreneurs),
“…making money is a drug. Not the money itself. The making of the money”.
Wealth is NOT about bling-bling: that is just living high. So, whatever your personal recipe for wealth is, remember this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “What is essential is invisible to the eye”. Therefore, adapting your mindset and lifestyle accordingly makes sense because real wealth (personal and financial well-being) is invisible to the eye.