So, if we’re using millionaire-status as a way to gauge wealth in this country, a lot of people are never going to get to the point where they’re considered “rich.”
But there are plenty of other ways to live a wealthy life that extend beyond how much money you have in the bank or your portfolio. And even those with a lot of money may not be considered rich when you look at other areas of their life.
Here are some ways to be rich today that go beyond money:
You have a job you enjoy. If you work a 9-5 job that means roughly 50% of your waking hours during the week are spent in the office, with your colleagues or at your place of employment. Of course, many people put in even more hours than this.
So, if you hate your employer, boss, co-workers or your current career path, that can be an enormous drag on your well-being.
Simply enjoying what you do, who you do it with, and the company you do it for can make for a supremely richer life than the alternative. It would be nice to pair a fulfilling career with a high income, but most people never seem to find the former even if they receive the latter.
Being in control of your own time. A big salary is always nice, but the impact wears off when you’re forced to deal with a stressful work environment, co-workers you don’t care for, or work you’re not appreciated for.
Everyone has aspects of their job they don’t care for but it’s hard to put a value on the ability to control what you work on, who you work with, and performing meaningful work that keeps you engaged.
Having a say in how you generally spend your time in your job is a luxury not many workers generally enjoy.
The ability to work from anywhere. Working remotely is a relatively new phenomenon because the technology to do so effectively didn’t exist in the past.
Not only does it offer more flexibility, but it can boost productivity, help people with their family life, and cut down on time spent commuting. It takes the right personality type and organisational culture to pull it off, but telecommuting can make your work and personal life so much easier.
Having a shorter commute to work. A big trend to emerge from the latest HILDA report2 is the impact of commute times. These have blown out by 23% over the past 15 years and have a major influence on job satisfaction. Melbourne workers have an average work commute time of 65 minutes per day. When looking for new office space a few years ago my number one requirement was location. I wanted something as close to home as possible whilst ensuring the location was also convenient for our clients. No longer working in the Melbourne CBD cut my commute time down from 35 minutes to 15 minutes each way – not dealing with as much traffic and the associated delays has definitely had a positive impact on my life.
The ability to manage your time effectively. Time is our most precious of assets but it’s also the one people seem to complain about the most. “I am soooooo busy” is the modern rallying cry from workers, parents, bosses, and pretty much anyone with poor time management skills.
Everyone deals with the same exact amount of time in the day. No person in the history of the world has figured out how to strike the perfect balance between work, family, personal life and hobbies. Some just manage it better than others to make themselves more productive.
Time management doesn’t require a lot of money, but it does require prioritisation, attention to detail, delegation and an understanding of the personal behaviours holding you back.
Putting yourself in a position where you rarely feel stressed out or rushed for time is a good place to be in life.
Having a handle on your cashflow. In his book, The Algebra of Happiness, Scott Galloway discusses his definition of rich when it comes to income and expenses:
The definition of “rich” is having passive income greater than your burn. My dad and his wife receive about $50,000 a year from dividends, pension, and Social Security, and spend $40,000 a year. They are rich. I have a few friends who earn between $1 million and $3 million, with several children in Manhattan private schools, an ex-wife, a home in the Hamptons, and a lifestyle fitting of a master of the universe. They spend most, if not all, of it. They are poor. By the time you’re thirty, you should have a feel for what your burn is. Young people are 100 percent focused on their earnings. Adults also focus on their burn.
A higher income helps but, in our experience, true financial progress comes from creating a gap in the right direction between your net income and your spending.
Having meaningful relationships. In his book The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner profiles five regions of the world — Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Icaria (Greece) and Nicoya (Costa Rica) — where there are a disproportionate number of people living past the age of 100.
In his work, Buettner studied the people who live in these places to figure out their secret. He found 9 lessons from their shared characteristics which could in turn be grouped into three main categories:
The number of people you care for or love can have a big impact on how long you live. You may have a lot of money but if it’s constantly stressing you out to the point that it ruins any meaningful relationships you could literally be taking years off your life.
Time is the one thing we can’t buy any more of but freeing up more of the time you have to focus on the things in life that are more important than money (relationships, health and well-being) may help.
¹ Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2018
2 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics report
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