The other day as I was winding down for the evening, I was struck with a feeling of gratitude, a feeling that I truly live a “wealthy” and “rich” life.
As I was reflecting on why I felt this way, I came up with the following reasons:
1) I felt great over the weekend, I had a lot of energy, which made the busy weekend flow much smoother. We take for granted how feeling good can make a huge difference on our experience and outlook on life.
2) I spent time in community with others. This past weekend was exceptionally social, as we marched on Saturday with 150,000 other people, then I hosted a surprise birthday party for my husband Ross, who turned 40! We got to hang out with wonderful friends and we took some time to Facetime with our families since they all live out of state. My cup felt “full” of joy by the end of the weekend, amazingly I did not feel exhausted.
3) Spent time giving back to others and helping when I could. Something as simple as helping to watch my friend’s son for the weekend, or buying coffee for all the volunteers who helped out at the Women’s March.
It is interesting how money and material possessions was not on the top of my list for why I felt so “rich” by the end of the weekend. I am not naïve, I certainly understand how if you are struggling to pay your bills, that certainly affects your life in a BIG way and money is the #1 stressor for families. Often times, as Americans we live beyond our means. We buy a house, where the mortgage was a bit of a stretch for our monthly income, we own nice cars (typically 2 or more), we go shopping for expensive clothes, furniture and the latest tech gadget. There are an abundance of ways to spend money in our culture. We end of racking up credit card debt.
Awhile back, I read the Millionaire Next Door, I was struck by how simply many Millionaires live, now I am not talking about actors, Hollywood stars, the Oprah’s of the world, but your everyday American working class families, that have made conscious choices in how they live and spend their money.
Here is a quick overview of the book: When Authors Tom Stanley and William Danko went to investigate on how people get wealthy, they found something odd. Many of the people who live in upscale neighborhoods and drive luxurious cars do not have extreme wealth. Many people who have great wealth do not even live in upscale neighborhoods, they do not drive luxury cars, typically do not buy new cars and hang onto their cars for many years.
During the author’s investigation, they discovered seven common denominators among the people who become wealthy
- They live well below their means
- They allocate their time and money efficiently, in ways conducive to building wealth.
- They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status.
- Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care.
- Their adult children are economically self-sufficient.
- They are proficient in targeting market opportunities.
- They chose the right occupation.
I think the biggest thing on this list is living well below your means and valuing financial independence more than going out to expensive dinners, driving fancy cars, taking luxury vacations or buying designer clothes and jewelry. These items are nice, but if it straps you financially it only creates more stress in the long run. When you live within your means, you know what is most important to you and your spending reflects that. Things can be taken to the opposite extreme, where a family or person never spends any money because they are so afraid they are spending too much. There is a happy balance between these 2 spectrums. When I realized how peaceful I felt when I finally paid off my last credit card (after being in debt for 10 years), I knew I never wanted to go back to that life. So when I feel like “over” spending or feel like buying something expensive that I don’t need, I remind myself the gift I am giving myself in exchange for not spending money is peace, and a “wealthy” life not based on material items but based on what I value most, time, health, freedom and community.
There is a lot of self-love that comes from making good choices for yourself.