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What IS the definition of wealth?

I have always been intrigued with topics and books that discuss the habits, characteristics and mentality of wealthy people in both work and family in hopes that I can emulate them in my business and personal life. Rarely have I thought about what “wealth” really means to me until recently.

A few weeks ago, I read an article which touches upon this exact question. R. Buckminster Fuller was a renowned 20th century inventor, architect, futurist and visionary who once defined wealth by asking a simple question:

If you stopped working right now, how long could you continue your lifestyle?

Very often, we interpret wealth in terms of $, houses, cars, and all kinds of material items and privileges a person amasses. But true wealth is not about that. One can still be wealthy without many material possessions for others to admire. The true test comes when there is no job, no government financial assistance, no rich relative or family member to fall back on yet you are still able to have the same standard of living as you would if you were working with a cushy full-time job.

13 years ago, I discovered that owning real estate is the only way to amass a tremendous amount of wealth over time. I focused on investing in positive cash-flowing properties which allowed me not to have to be tied down by a typical job. Looking back, that decision to take the plunge was the greatest decision I’ve ever made for myself and my family. Without that action, I would never have discovered my strengths and my true love for the real estate industry. Without that action, I would never have discovered the joys and pains that come with investing in real estate. Without that action, I would never have accumulated the kind of wealth that my family and I enjoy today.

Most importantly, without that action, I would never have been able to contribute to the wealth of our investors in such a meaningful way.

A recent conversation with a friend truly captures the essence of wealth. My friend is the sole earner for a family of four. His home is mortgage-free and they have savings stashed away in investments. He is the object of envy for a lot of people. Here is a snippet from the dialogue he and I had:

Jed: My friend, you are working way too much. If you continue to work this way, you
are going to burn out very fast. You need to spend time with the family too.

Friend: Well, I have to work to make sure the money keeps coming in. I’m not like
you. You have properties that give you money even when you are not
actively working. But we have only our home and paper investments. I need
to buy tons of insurance to make sure if one day I can’t work, I will still have
money coming in to pay the bills.

Never would I have imagined that’s how my friend sees me in financial terms. It was sad to hear about the position he is in but it’s more than a reality for many people. This gives me a sense of urgency to inspire and offer investment opportunities to those who are hungry and willing to build and preserve their wealth. Ultimately, it is not about how much wealth I selfishly accumulate. It’s about how much I can contribute to the wealth of others. As Zig Ziglar aptly puts it:

You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

This is MY definition of wealth.