It’s estimated only 5% of people in the United States are millionaires.
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 in this day and age 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. Many people put in even more hours than this.
So if you hate your employer, boss, co-workers, or 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 paycheck but most people never find the former even if they receive the latter.
Being in control of your own time. A big paycheck 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 perk not many workers 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 organizational culture to pull it off, but telecommuting can make your work and personal life so much easier.
Having a short commute to work. When looking for office space a few years ago my number one requirement was location. I wanted something as close to home as possible. Cutting my commute down from 20 minutes to 5 minutes has made me at least 9% happier in life by not dealing with traffic and terrible drivers.
One study found adding 20 minutes to your commute makes you as miserable as receiving a 19% pay cut.
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 for 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 prioritization, attention to detail, and an understanding of the behaviors 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 burn rate. In 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 number of 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 definitely helps but true financial progress comes from creating a gap in the right direction between your 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 with the National Geographic, Buettner studied the people who live in these places to figure our their secret. He found 9 lessons from their shared characteristics but they basically drill down to three categories:
(2) Lifestyle (diet, physical activity, your work, lack of stress, not smoking, not being obese, etc.)
(3) Engagement in family, social and spiritual life
Studies show that around 10% of how long we live is dictated by our genes while the other 90% is dictated by our lifestyle and relationships. 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 no one can buy more of but investing in relationships may help.
The 3 Levels of Wealth