Saturday, May 31, 2014

What does it mean to be rich?

What is being rich? The question means different things to different people. After all, there are a whole bunch of people out there who would argue that having a million dollars makes you rich. On the other hand, someone who is supposed to be a millionaire can be just as broke as anyone else. In fact, hardly a day goes by that you don't hear about some well-to-do person "losing everything" in bankruptcy court, and then heading to some red-carpet gala that night. With that in mind, one has to ask the question, how likely is it that an average person might shuffle their way from the ranks of the middle class and one day rise to be "rich?"

Well, the answer isn't so easy to discern. Truth be told, being "rich" doesn't really mean what it used to mean. In fact, most financial professionals now believe that simply having a million dollars in your retirement account won't be enough to get you through retirement. The magic number these days that tends to get passed around is TWO million. Seems pretty impossible, doesn't it? Well, for most people, it is, sorry to say.

So, what do you do for a living? If you're a record producer, a businessperson, or even in some respects, a salesperson, you could find yourself doing quite well for yourself without ever really feeling very rich. That's because being rich isn't necessarily a set dollar amount, as some politicians would have us believe. You could make $20,000 per year, and live like a king, if that's your thing, and by the same token, you could make $50 million dollars per year, and constantly be fighting off the creditors beating down your door. It's all a matter of perspective.

Suddenly in the media, there's been a call for a $15 per hour wage among restaurant employees. This has primarily been spurred on by employees at fast-food restaurants, most of whom see jobs such as that as not being temporary or short-term employment, but rather full-time, career employment. You probably have an opinion about it, one way or the other. Most folks do. Rather than looking at the politics of the issue, though, let's take a moment to think about the psychology of that number. (bearing in mind that I'm no psychologist) The $15 per hour raise that these folks are seeking really isn't that much, all in all. Think about it. If you work 30 hours per week, that $15 per hour amounts to just $23,400 per year, and really, that number of hours is pretty generous in the service industry. Still, they feel so strongly that that relatively small number would make such a strong impact on their lives, that they're willing to walk off their jobs in protest to try to gain it.

It's not that much money, but still it would make them feel "rich" to receive it, wouldn't it? Compared to what they've got? With that logic, we can see that being rich is nothing more than a label that society pins on certain people, when in actuality, it has far more to do with how you live. Do you live within your means? Have a few bucks left over at the end of the month for a movie and dinner at your  favorite restaurant? Then, if you really think about it, couldn't you consider yourself rich? Compared with some people in this world, you're a lot better off than you think. Sure, you may not be able to afford that brand-new BMW you've had your eye on, but if that makes you feel poor, and some kid in Guatemala suddenly feels rich because he bought himself a Snickers bar, than isn't it time to re-evaluate what we think it means to be rich? Maybe we should remove the monetary connotations all together , and just realize that the old adage is true- money really can’t buy happiness, and what really is being rich if you aren’t happy?

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