Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

This is part of my series: American Zombie: How To Stop Being A Mindless Consumer.

Society measures wealth by the size of your house, your bank account, and your investment portfolio. They’ll also include the glamorous cars your drive and the exotic vacations you take. This is a terrible way to measure wealth!

The right way to measure wealth is something I learned from “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.” And it’s this: Wealth is measured by the number of weeks you can go without a paycheck while maintaining your current standard of living.

Wealth is actually about not needing a paycheck. People who can go six months without working are far wealthier than people who can only go six weeks. And those who never have to work at all are the wealthiest of all.

Now, society says that we accrue wealth by earning more money. And I agree with this, to a point. But our expenses tend to keep pace with our incomes. We make more money but pay more taxes, buy more expensive homes, drive more expensive cars, take expensive vacations, spend more on food and entertainment, etc. And of all of our stuff costs more to maintain and insure.

This is why many high-paid professionals, like doctors, still live paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have enough money to sustain their lavish lifestyle for more than a few weeks.

The secret to building wealth is to keep your expenses low as you gradually grow your income. Over time, you’ll spend less time working for a paycheck and more time doing what fulfills you and relaxes you. Until you reach that blessed day when you don’t need a paycheck at all.

This is true wealth. The fancy cars and the McMansions and the country club memberships are all just manacles that keep us working when we should be playing, socializing, and relaxing. Cut ties with petty luxuries that only exist to impress people you don’t even like. Throw off the shackles of extravagant living and be free to spend your time how you wish.