Let me tell you a story about two important women in my life. Both are strong and fiercely independent, and I admire them greatly.
Paola has lived a life of adventure and world travels. As a doctor with 30+ years in her profession, she lives in a three-story home that has million dollar views and sits in one of the most expensive zip codes in the nation. She lives alone and owns three cars and two additional properties that generate rental income.
Now let me switch gears and tell you about Mari.
Mari is an immigrant to this country. In order to come to the United States for economic opportunity she had to leave her family behind in her home country. She first arrived with zero English but a strong work ethic. She found work in various positions that allowed her to get established, eventually landing a job in housekeeping for a national hotel chain. While it may not be considered the most glamorous work, she is a loyal employee and focuses on doing her job well.
So who is the wealthy one here? Paola? Or Mari?
Before you get too set in your mind, let me continue their stories.
Paola’s multi-million dollar property may be in one of the most desired locations, but the property itself is in a state of disrepair. Lack of maintenance over the years has turned small problems into large ones: a leaky roof, a fallen ceiling, broken appliances, dead trees in her yard, unfinished walls and interiors from decades-old construction work, and construction debris scattered throughout the property’s interior and exterior. And this isn’t a temporary situation. It’s been like this for the past 30 years. Family won’t even visit as a guest due to the total disarray of the house. Paola struggles managing her rental properties and finally ended up in tax trouble with the IRS. She is constantly penny-pinching in the most extreme way just to get by.
Let’s go back to Mari one more time.
Mari has a strong work ethic—she works hard, is honest and is an extremely loyal employee. She spends frugally and puts money away each month. Over time, management took notice of her dedication at work and promoted her to supervisory roles. She socked away savings and was financially able to buy her own home and leave a bad marriage when things got too much for her. She now owns her own home and multiple vehicles outright (no financing). Today she is a US citizen; she has a immaculate, welcoming home; and she has enough to send money back to her family in her home country.
Now that we’ve peeked behind the curtain a little more into these women’s lives, do you still have the same opinion that you did at the beginning of this article?
From the outside, we all might possess a little bit of envy for Paola, but as the stories of these two women clearly show:
Appearances ≠ Reality
While Paola may be dealing with a much larger income, she is living in a poverty mindset.
Mari doesn’t worry about money because she knows how to live within her means. She doesn’t have a mansion, but she’s not lacking. This is a wealth mindset.
So what does all of this have to do with YOU and your ability to become wealthy?
While you may fall at one of these two far ends of the income spectrum, chances are you are somewhere in the middle.
If you find yourself worrying that you ‘don’t have enough’ money, here is how you can quickly flip that switch and improve your scenario.
Reality Check Yo’ Self
Ask yourself if it’s true that you don’t have enough. Enough for what? How is someone with a much lower income than you is making it work, when you feel you can’t?
Also what is “making it work?” Is it having all the current clothing trends? Is it driving a nice car? That weekend trip to Vegas? Or is it having a enough savings that you know you’d be o.k. if your job got eliminated today? Is it knowing you can pay your credit card off in full every month? Is it having a roof over your head, food in your stomach and a little play money to enjoy passing time with your family and friends? Get clear on what matters most to you.
If you really want to get perspective, check out the Global Rich List. You will find that you are in the top 1% of wage earners in the world if you make at least $32,400 annually. How’s that for perspective?
At that wage your monthly income could pay the monthly salaries of 122 doctors in Kazakhstan. It would take the average laborer in Zimbabwe 31 years to earn the same amount.
Simply by virtue of being born in the United States, you have more wealth than 90% of the world population. (Credit Suisse 2018 Global Wealth Report)
Build a Wealth Mindset
Develop a gratitude practice
It’s easy to lose track of all that we do have when we are constantly barraged by ads, social media posts, celebrity images and others’ outwards appearances of things we don’t have.
You must be intentional in finding ways to appreciate all the good things in your life. Think small. Think tangible. Think specific. Instead of saying “I’m thankful for my family and friends,” take the time to think of something specific you are thankful for. For example, “I am thankful for the phone call I received from my cousin Lynn today because I felt special that someone was thinking of me.” or “I am thankful for last night’s dinner and long conversation with Jim because I felt a true connection to someone important in my life.”
This exercise can be easy or it can feel hard depending on your mental space at the time. The good news is that the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Try starting and ending each day with this practice. First thing in the morning before you hop out of bed, keep your eyes closed and list 2-3 things you are thankful for in the moment. And when you get into bed each night, close your eyes and reflect on 2-3 things you are thankful for from the day.
Done consistently, this simple practice will transform for the better both how you see the world and how you see yourself.
Help someone and expect nothing in return
I heard a very wealthy man say, “If you don’t have enough money to donate to those less fortunate when you have $50,000, you won’t have enough money to share when you have $5 million dollars. It’s all in your mindset and attitude.”
That statement really made an impact on me. No matter how rich or poor I feel every month, I know I am not as well off as some, but better off than many. In this spirit of gratitude for all that I have, I donate a portion of my income every month to charitable causes that have touched my heart.
It doesn’t have to be a lot. If you will commit to even $20 a month to your favorite charity, you will have a monthly reminder of how fortunate you are to be able to do this.
Another option is to consider donating your time. Help at a soup kitchen. Give your time at a women’s shelter. Spend time with seniors at a retirement home—they will love it! Any action where you are performing an act of service for someone who could use a helping hand, will immediately fill you with gratitude. She who gives, receives.
Commit to your own financial journey
Last, but not least, give to yourself. In order to take care of others, you must first take care of yourself. Make sure you are minding your own financial picture so you can build a strong foundation from which you can contribute to others.
Take time to learn about how to best manage your finances. Don’t blindly rely on anyone else to do this for you.
The two most important things you can do to build your own financial wealth in the bank is to commit to these two principles:
- Don’t accrue debt (unless as an absolute necessary, last resort)
- Put away money for yourself every month, no matter what – target 10-15% of your take-home pay
Think of building wealth as “spending” money on yourself each month by stashing it away in your savings account (what I like to call my wealth-building account).
A budget will help you make sure you are both 1) building your wealth and 2) spending your remaining money on the things that are most important to you.
Building True Wealth
Too often we get caught up in the day-to-day comparison trap with our friends and colleagues around us, or the glamorous lifestyle images we see everyday on our social media accounts. It is easy to feel like we do not have enough, or we are not enough, if we let minds go down that road.[bctt tweet=”True wealth is not a dollar amount. It is a state of mind.” username=”simplifimoney”]
Buying the latest fashions, the nicest car or the biggest house may give the appearance of wealth to the outside world, but true wealth comes from living on less than you earn, spending within your means, and being appreciative for all that you have today.
What are five things you could be grateful for right now? Please comment below and share what you are grateful for in this moment.