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Millionaire or Broke: Defining What Wealth Means to You

In today’s American capitalist society, many of us have developed this mindset if we’re not “rich”, we’re broke. Individuals are paying the cost, working hard and doing whatever it takes to create wealth and obtain financial freedom.

Unfortunately, oftentimes this means at the sacrifice of our health, happiness, values, relationships and other things that may be important to us.

One of the problems with this is many of us make these sacrifices with no real objective or end goal in mind other than to become wealthy.

We go throughout life making decisions to achieve something that we have never taken the time to clearly define. If you don’t know what you want, it’s easy to let social media or the facade of other people’s lifestyles steer you in a direction you may or may not want to go. Only chasing wealth is never a good decision.

Money: The Infinite Resource

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With the wealth gap continuing to widen it seems as if the finish line to claim we have arrived continues to get further and further. Most people will never be in the top 1%, nor do they need to be in the top 1% to have financial freedom.

However, in order to arrive, you have to first know where you’re going. Many people have the misconception that being wealthy and obtaining financial freedom means you make a lot of money, and this belief can create a twofold problem.

The first problem is that money is just a resource and a resource is just a supply of something that is available when needed. The real value is not in the resource itself, the value is in what the resource will allow you to do or create.

However, if you put too much value on the resource itself, you’ll never realize its full potential. So yes, making and having a lot of money is great, but what are you using that resource to do and create. 

Without an end goal in mind, you’ll never seem to have enough because you may always feel that you need more and more, even if you don’t really know why.

The biggest irony I’ve discovered about money is that people who have little want more and people who have a lot are trying to find ways to give it away. So where is the happy medium?

Once you get passed providing for your basic necessities and funding the things you enjoy, how much is enough?

you get passed providing for your basic necessities and funding the things you enjoy, how much is enough?

What Does Wealth Mean to You?

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When you look up the word wealth in the dictionary nowhere will you see an actual dollar amount or list of assets, which means you have the ability to decide what wealth means to you?

Based on the lifestyle you want to live and the things you would like to accomplish, you can determine the amount of wealth you need to be financially independent.

Some people may enjoy finer material things like a large home, fancy cars and designer clothing. Others may enjoy traveling the world and having new experiences.

Some may enjoy giving back to the community. Some may enjoy all of those things and more.

We all have different values and interests and I’m not here to tell you what you should or should not place value in.

The key is that no two people are the same and it’s up to you to decide what is important to you.

Once you have determined the quality of life you want to live, you can then determine how much money you need to fund that quality of life. However, how can you know where you’re going if you have no idea what you’re building towards.

If you’re not careful you can effortlessly embark on a journey down the wrong direction, finding yourself overlooking what is actually important to you.

When you begin to define what wealth means to you, you must think about four things: values, skills, lifestyle, and transfer.

Values

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Your values are your basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate your attitudes and actions. Who are you, what do you stand for and why do you want to be wealthy?

In order to become wealthy, you’re likely going to have to sacrifice something, whether it’s time, sleep, relationship wants, etc, but you have to be able to weigh what’s most important to you.

You must know who you are and have a strong conviction. There will be times when you must make tough decisions because not everyone or every opportunity will align with your moral compass and what you believe.

If you don’t know who you are, you could sell your soul for wealth. If you don’t have a compelling reason to obtain wealth eventually the journey will become a burden uneasy to bear.

You must have a clear vision of what you want and why you want to obtain it. So, I charge you to make a list of your values to keep you grounded along the way.

Skills

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In order to become wealthy, you must acquire the knowledge to master your craft.

What are you naturally good at or what skills do you want to acquire to help you become more successful? How do you align your day to day with your purpose and what you’re called to do?

The more knowledgeable you are, the more equipped you’ll be to build wealth.

If you’re not already in the space you want to think about what skills you can acquire or improve to help move you in that direction.

Lifestyle

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Once you have established your values and begun to develop your skills you should start to think about how that aligns with the lifestyle you want to live.

Have you ever seen something on social media, get it and realize it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be? Often times we seek and desire things based on external factors not necessarily based on what we really want.

You must define what you want your lifestyle to be and work towards it or you’ll live a life someone else defines for you. What do you enjoy doing? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to have the flexibility to go to your kids sporting events? Do you want a big house or a modest house? Do you want to travel or not? How will you maintain your health? What do you want your social circle to look like?

These are all areas of your life you must define because at the end of the day wealth goes far beyond dollars and cents.

Transfer

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Finally, despite the lifestyle and abundance of wealth you have created, you can’t take it with you. You came into this world with nothing and you’re going to leave with nothing. As you build wealth it’s important to remember to think greater than you.

We’re all living on borrowed time, so you must think about what you want to happen when you’re gone.

What legacy can you leave behind for your family? How can you make an impact in the life of someone in need? How can you empower the generation behind you to become as successful as you are? Embrace the calling and unleash the power of generational wealth.

Enjoy it Along The Way

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Considering everything, regardless of what wealth looks like to you, you have to enjoy it along the journey.

A quote that changed my life is from the Dalai Lama. When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Living day to day it’s not difficult to get caught up in the grind trying to be successful and build wealth, forgetting that tomorrow isn’t promised. Yes, creating wealth and becoming financially independent requires a level of sacrifice, but every now and then you have to look up and smell the roses.

Life is but a blink, why speed through it at the cost of its precious memories to build something you can’t take with you.

It’s so easy to say I’m going to spend more time with my family once I get this promotion, I’m going to start working out more once I finish this project or I’m going to take that trip once I…

If you want to, you can always find a reason to put off things that are important. The question is what cost are you willing to pay?

To sum it up, if you want to live a more meaningful life as you create wealth, remember money is just a resource, define what wealth looks like to you and enjoy it along the way. 

Gerald Grant, III is a Financial Professional who offers securities through AXA Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC, offers investment advisory products/services through AXA Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor, and offers annuity and insurance products through AXA Network, LLC (AXA Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC) – CA Insurance Lic. #OL79531. PPG-146130(07/19)(07/21)

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Written by Gerald Grant III

Growing up around the financial services industry, Gerald has developed a passion to help individuals achieve financial freedom. Gerald and his father have created a multigenerational firm to help individuals create wealth that will last for generations.

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