What Is Wealth?

What is wealth?

I was reading/watching this from Naval Ravikant, CEO and co-founder of AngelList and you should too.

It talks about how wealth can be made, and perhaps more importantly, how we might maintain what we have amassed. One of the best lessons I took from it is about the great value of living below your means, even when you’re earning enough to splurge on that bigger house or car. But first, let’s get back to basics and look at how we actually define wealth.

Wealth is not just a pot of money. It’s not just six figures on a bank statement. It’s a lot more than that, and its true meaning runs not only deep into our inner selves but out into society as well. Most of us might sense this already, but in our competitive, materialist culture, it’s all too easy to lose sight of what our daily striving for cash is really all about. How can we use whatever money we have to actually make us feel good?

Research into happiness and well-being shows that if we get too caught up in comparing ourselves to people who have more than us, we will never feel the satisfaction that comes with a sense of being wealthy, however much we have in the bank.

We’ve also learned that it’s what you do with your money (and especially the time that money earns you) that makes you feel rich. So, spending money on paying someone to do chores for your at the weekend might leave you feeling much “richer”, as you are free to do exactly what you please from dawn til dusk on a Saturday, than if you spent that cash on a shiny new toy that you didn’t have time to play with or appreciate because you’re so busy doing stressy chores.

Giving to others is an important means of rounding out our conception of wealth too. It’s empowering to help others, and not only with our money but our time: those who undertake volunteering or mentoring roles report a greater sense of life being grand than those who don’t.

So how do we create all this wonderful, free-ing money again? Well in that Naval piece there was a great quote: that the two most dangerous things in the world are heroin and a monthly salary. Both are addictive; both make you feel safe for a while; but both stop you from really moving forward with your life. Here at Vestpod we are lucky enough to know lots of awesome female entrepreneurs who have made that scary leap from regular employment to being a start-up queen. And what’s the one thing all their successful ventures have in common? It’s that the founder identified something society wanted but didn’t know how to get, and figured out how to scale it up into a viable business. What they did not do is simply swap their time for money.

The most dangerous things are heroin and a monthly salary—they’re both highly addictive.
— Naval Ravikant - CEO and co-founder of AngelList

Maybe you too have an awesome idea for a product or service, and maybe it’s already on the way to creating real wealth for you. But remember, true wealth is not just about you. It’s about the impact it can have on your family, your community, the wider society in which you live and even the planet itself, as I discussed in my recent FT article.

So whether you’re at the stage of making good money, or still starting out on your financial journey and paying off those credit card debts, you can still handle your financial business with an intelligent definition of what wealth means. And that will make you feel richer, freer and more happy than a competitive, miserly misanthrope scowling at her pot of gold.

Collage from photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash.