This concept is something I’ve believed in for a long while. But I think it was Alan Weiss who articulated it in this particular fashion.
Almost all of us have had to work for money. And with that money, we’ve been able to buy things as well as pay for services and experiences. So it’s not really the money we want, it’s what that money can do for us. But even that doesn’t go far enough.
Here’s what I mean. The accumulation of a certain amount of money doesn’t really constitute true wealth. True wealth is having the freedom to do as we please with our life. It’s the time we have to live our lives in our own way that makes us rich.
And sure, it takes some money to do that. But rather than focus on accumulating a particular amount of money, I invite you to take a different approach. Because I’ve seen far too many people working very hard to create a portfolio only to die short of achieving it—or shortly thereafter.
Five years ago, we were looking at real estate in Florida. We’d only been in the new home we’d built in Vermont for a little over two years. But with real estate tanking in The Sunshine State and still fairly stable in the northeast, we decided to make the move. The result was a bigger, nicer home on a larger lot with many more amenities—not to mention a more attractive climate.
And that wasn’t all of it. After our move, we identified slightly over $4,000 a month in savings between Vermont and Florida. Everything except auto and homeowner’s insurance was less—with a good bunch of savings in taxes (Florida is one of 5 states with no state income tax). In actuality, the savings were even more than the $4K per month, when you consider that no federal income tax needed to be paid on that savings. In other words, we’d have to generate nearly $6,000 in income in order to have the equivalent of the $4,000 a month. We’re talking real savings here. Heck some people don’t MAKE $6K a month!
So why am I telling you this? Because it’s not about how much money you earn or how much money you have, it’s how much you get to keep. And more than that, it’s about how much freedom or discretionary time you have. That’s true wealth.
And I can assure you that you don’t have to make a million dollars a year to live a rich life.
You might say that you don’t have a business or work that allows you the flexibility to move to a less expensive part of the world. But you can do it. We positioned ourselves to do it. We were just able to do it a little sooner than we’d planned. Partly because we were focused on the freedom rather than the amount of money in an investment account. And mostly because we value our time more than we value money.
I encourage you to view true wealth as discretionary time rather than numbers and zeroes on a balance sheet. In the words of the great Ben Franklin, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
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