How do you define rich? There are probably a number of different definitions. One is you have a lot of stuff… but then there’s always somebody more rich than you are. If you look around, somebody else always has more stuff. Which makes you feel poor. Which makes you want more stuff. That definition also leads to the phenomenon that a lot of baby-boomers experienced where they didn’t really have a lot of discretionary income and really weren’t rich, but acted as if.
Baby-boomer Kathleen Wolf said in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “I wasn’t rich. I just acted rich.” That kind of rich leads to devastation later in life, as Ms. Wolf found out whenever she had to declare bankruptcy long past the time that she should have been able to retire. She had to move away from her home town of 43 years in California to Iowa where she knew no one and into a fixer upper house. She’s now become content. But now is when I would say she actually is rich.
That is a better definition of rich – contentment. Even “the difference between what you need to have to meet your expenses and what you actually have,” that gap, is a better definition of rich. If that delta is large and ever growing, you are rich regardless of income level. You are someone who is content with what you live on. To that end, by that definition, you and I can become rich today not by focusing on the ever increasing income number advertisers want us to focus on, but on the opposite side of the ledger:
An ever decreasing want number.
The easiest way for us to build a difference between what we want and what we can afford is to start wanting less today, and so become rich. Ever. Increasingly. Rich.
Now, we could try to want a whole lot less very quickly, but that is a recipe for frustration. All we need to do is want a little bit less today, and we become a little bit richer today, regardless of what our income does.