What Does it Mean to Be “Wealthy”?

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What does it mean to be wealthyEarlier this week Alyssa and I were walking along an ocean front side walk in our new home of Santa Cruz, CA. We were doing what people do while looking out over the ocean, talking about deep life stuff. While we walked Alyssa caught me off guard with this question, “What does it mean to be wealthy?”

At first, I didn’t give it much thought. I spouted out the first thing that came to my mind, “Being wealthy is when your great grandkids already have their college paid tuition paid.” Boom!

I guess she was looking for something more philosophical and deep, because she wasn’t satisfied with my very surface-level answer.

“No, what would you need in your life to be considered wealthy? For example, for me– it would be being able to buy gluten free pretzels and not having to worry about how much is in my bank account.” (awesome definition of wealthy)

I love my wife. (Side note for all guys: If you can find a girl who’s definition of wealthy is being able to buy gluten pretzels instead of a Lexus, put a ring on her finger.)

After hearing her obviously well thought answer of buying gluten free pretzels, I knew I had to do some thinking so I told her I would come back with a more qualified answer. I’ve spent the last couple days thinking about the answer and this is what I came up with.

What does it mean for me to have a wealthy life?

A wealthy life is being able to call myself and my family debt free.

A wealthy life is where I am able to create my own schedule and have location independence.

A wealthy life is being able to help my family and friends when they are in need, or because I want to.

However, everyone has a different view of what “wealth” means for them.

Have you seen the newer version of Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps? Shia Leboeuf’s character is talking to the billionaire Bretton Woods and this a heated conversation where Shia’s character was asking an older, more rich and accomplished guy how much money he would need to “walk away” (consider this his definition of wealth).

Jacob (Shia): What’s your number?

Bretton Woods: Excuse me?

Jacob: The amount of money you would need to be able to walk away from it all and just live happily-ever-after. See, I find that everyone has a number and it’s usually an exact number, so what is yours?

Bretton: …. More (with a sly grin)

This ultra rich guy, obviously has an inflated sense of what wealth means. For him, it just means “more”. For Heath Padgett’s life in 2015 it just means getting out of debt, maybe one day I can talk in numbers and dollars. For now, I want to be in the black.

But if I’m being honest, I do want to make money. I want to make a lot of money, because money is a great tool to do good work in the world. Money is also an indication that you’ve made yourself valuable in your work and ability to contribute value into people lives. I don’t want money for the sake of money. I want to create value in a product and or book and then have money be the by product for what comes later.

I’m really glad Alyssa asked me this question, because it was something I hadn’t thought about in a very long time, if ever. She helped challenge me to not associate a specific dollar amount with being wealthy, but to really think about what would make me happy in my life.

What does it mean to be wealthy?

In 2015 being wealthy is living debt free. Perhaps in the years to come being wealthy will take on a new meaning, like being able to buy gluten free pretzels for my wife or buying a new Vegas Motorhome to travel around the country, but those are next year’s ambitions and dreams.

What does it mean for you to be wealthy? And what are you doing to help you get there? Drop a comment below and let me know!