So I was out getting some gas this morning, listening to a Sunday financial talk show, which I have a penchant to do. And their intro song was Calloway’s 90s hit “I Wanna Be Rich.” Now I won’t bore you with all of the lyrics or my singing, which sounds like a cat being strangled. However, Calloway says, in his chorus, “I want money, lots and lots of money, I want the pie in the sky, I wanna be rich.” Here is the video if you want to check out the
Aside from me bopping to what was in my brain I got me thinking about today’s blog post. What does it mean to be rich? Now you might be thinking that it is a fairly relative term. I mean someone who makes only $10,000 might think someone who makes $100,000 is rich and someone who makes $100,000 who has lots of debt (e.g. Me and Mrs. ROB from our student loans) doesn’t necessarily think that is all that much (NOTE: I am not complaining, but I think I might feel a little differently if we hadn’t made poor choices from students loans and are still working those things out).
You might also give the answer that being “rich” isn’t important it is what makes you happy. Yes, I know that. The notion of being “rich” is an ephemeral topic for most. One’s person who is rich is poor to another or you could be “rich” in friends and experiences. But this is a personal FINANCE blog. I figured that maybe we could tackle the “financial” part of being “rich.”
So what does it mean to be “rich.” I guess since I am writing this post I should tell you what I think it means to be rich.
To be honest I don’t have a specific figure. I mean I hope to get to financial independence, which is where I wouldn’t necessarily have to work. I would have all of my bills covered, food, and possibly some fun with the gains I have made contributing to retirement, but that to me isn’t rich.
I guess “rich” to me is able to go or do what you really want. You can afford anything and possibly everything. Now certainly Warren Buffett I would consider to be rich. If I had to put a dollar figure on it it would probably be about 5 million dollars.
Why Five Million? I don’t know I just like the answer. Now that would be five million in today’s dollars. I mean in our lifetime most people will probably be millionaires of some kind. And if you think about it that is probably true. I mean 60 years from now the minimum wage will probably be $100 per hour, which means almost $200,000 in earnings for minimum wage. So a lot people might be millionaires by default (then being a billionaire will be the benchmark I suppose).
It seems to me that someone who has 5 million dollars has a lot of flexibility with what they can do, afford, etc. If you have a million dollars you certainly, I think, are well to do, but a million dollars isn’t what it was just 30 years ago. To be “rich” in American society I think would probably need about 5 million in your net worth.
Is This a Pointless Exercise?
You might be reading this and thinking why do we care what the dollar figure is I mean it is, in some respects, relative. I mean if you do have 1 million dollars and you live in rural North Dakota (where my dad grew up) you would probably be fairly wealthy, much more so than someone who owns an apartment in Manhattan or Brooklyn, which will run you about $1 million.
The point of this is, in part, to start thinking about what do you want out of your financial future? Do you want to be rich? If so, what does that mean? Do you want to be financially independent? If so, what does that mean?
One of my goals with this blog is to start talking about money more, particularly among teachers. It is a subject that, even at the conference I was at, people didn’t want to talk about. They wanted to discuss research or teaching or whatever. And I am not talking about them wanting to reveal their own personal financial situation I am talking about the mere subject itself like buying a house, paying off student loans, salary, investing, etc. Any monetary subject was to be avoided like the plague.
So if you have read this far you might be thinking that you can never reach $5 million or $1 million (which actually isn’t true. In fact, if you are 25 and you save for the next 40 years or so….most likely you will have close to $5 million if not more…remember, in your lifetime or your children’s lifetime making a million dollars a year might not be that far off). If that is the case then what are your financial goals? What do you want? How will you get there?
This subject is too important NOT to talk about it. If you want to be “rich”–whether that is in life, money, politics, personality–how do you get there? How do you define, at least personal finance wise, what it means to be ‘rich’? How do you get there?
Answering that question isn’t a futile exercise because figuring out how you want your life to be ‘rich’ is a goal I think we all have. So my question to you is what does it mean to be ‘rich’, at least monetarily? Why?