A Purpose for Wealth

 What is the secret to becoming a millionaire?

Most people believe you have to “strike it rich” to become a millionaire.  They think it is all based on income.  And, for some millionaires that is true.  But, the vast majority of millionaires didn’t get rich off of a very high income or a sudden windfall.  Most millionaires became wealthy by earning and saving over a long period of time.  I know that sounds boring, but it’s true.

Why Wealth Needs a Purpose

Vaishravana - the Buddhist God of Wealth

Photo by Wonderlane

What if you want to become a millionaire now, so you can live the good life?

You probably won’t stay rich for very long, because your wealth doesn’t have a purpose, except to be consumed.  That’s what happens to athletes, musicians and lottery winners.  They are often bankrupt within a very short time after becoming wealthy.  The only thing worse than starting out poor is ending up poor.

In order to preserve that wealth, it must have a purpose.  And, that purpose must be more important than the wants and needs of daily life.  That purpose must be stronger than the lure of gold or the jealous look of a neighbor.  Otherwise, your wealth will quickly disappear, taking all of your hopes and dreams with it.

The Value of Life

I’m a little bit emotional and reflective today, because I am heading to the funeral of one of my coworkers.  She is the one I wrote about in my last post, who died of cancer.  The point I want to make is that life is valuable.  And, it’s fleeting.  A good life should have purpose.  It should have direction.  It should benefit all who come in contact with it.  A life without these things is hollow and superficial.  The same can be said for money.

My Purpose for Wealth

My entire life’s purpose right now is to achieve financial freedom.  Every day I work, every paycheck I collect and every dollar I invest is a step closer to my goal.  My dream is to wake up in the morning and be the master of my day.  I want to eat breakfast with my wife and decide if I want to go to work or to go on an adventure.  I want to see places I have never seen and to do things I have never done.  I want a lot more beautiful moments and a lot less stress.  And, I don’t want to wait until I am 67 years old to get there.  I have worked very hard for the past 30 years and I’m starting to believe I deserve it.  Wealth is the vehicle that will make this possible.

I’m still about ten years away from living my dream.  But, it’s getting close enough that I can start to see it.  One thing that brought my dream even closer was in reevaluating the concept of retirement.  I had always thought I would work until I was older and then retire.  Instead, I am beginning to realize that it makes more sense to semi-retire at an earlier age.  This will allow me to keep busy and creative, but retain the flexibility to enjoy my life.

What’s your Purpose?

OK, now it’s your turn to dream.  What are you going to do with your gift of life and the prospect of wealth?  How are you going to change the world and make it better for others?  How are you going to overcome obstacles and reach all of your goals?  Life is short and the clock is ticking.

What’s your purpose for wealth?

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

Henry David Thoreau – American Author

Recommended Reading

Many of the concepts I learned for accumulating wealth came from the book The Richest Man in Babylon.  Most of what I learned about the wealthy came from the book The Millionaire Next Door.  The ability to visualize and enjoy my dreams came from the book The Type Z Guide to Success with Ease.  If you haven’t read these three books, I highly recommend them.

This post was featured on the Carnival of Personal Finance. If you aren’t familiar with the Carnival of Personal Finance, it’s the premiere carnival of its kind. If you want to read informative articles from knowledgeable bloggers, this is the place.

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11 comments to A Purpose for Wealth

  • I am definitely going the soft retirement route! I have a friend who cashed out in the dot-com days and bought an estate in St. John, USVI. He works a little on his investments, volunteers for local projects he believes in, and has the rest of his time free.

    I appreciate that life is fleeting. I almost died when I was 13 in an accident. I am going through some health challenges now that keep me from doing a lot of things I want to do, but I am working to get better.

    As far as a purpose for my wealth, I have a soft spot for special needs folks and I would like to work on public acceptance/integration for them. As an ex-government worker, I learned how NOT to solve social problems. My husband is interested in advancing science and education, which I also think is a worthy cause. I think it’s important to try to make the world better than it is now.
    .-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..Retirement, Your Way =-.

    • Jennifer,

      I enjoyed reading your post on Retirement Your Way. You and I think alike on this subject.

      My Dad had a dream of retiring when he was 45 and sailing around the world. Because he had five kids, he wasn’t able to do it. But, he did retire at 55 and move to an island in Micronesia. It’s a good thing he did, because he died at 65 and he would have worked his whole life away. Instead, he was able to enjoy the final years of his life.

      My hope is to not only enjoy life more as I get older, but to shift away from traditional employment. It’s not because I hate working. I just don’t want to be the “old computer dude”, like Tom in the movie Office Space. I’ve worked in this industry long enough to know that age discrimination is a problem. Instead, I would like to start a business or work in a consulting capacity.

  • I’m glad you enjoyed my post! That’s quite the story about your father. My husband is also in IT so I know what you mean about age discrimination. He wants to go back to his first love, physics, which is much more friendly to old geezers.
    .-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..Mortgaged in the USA: 6 Dangerous Myths About Housing =-.

  • Excellent topic.

    As for me, I am of the belief that wealth is interrelated with health and relationships. To the extent one is improved (or hurt), the other can be enhanced (or negatively impacted). Money to me is a component of my overall quality of life.

    The purpose that drives me? The ability to have a high quality of life with strong relationships, good health, the ability to take care of my family, the ability to give to people or causes that are especially meaningful to me, and freedom. I know what you mean by financial freedom – it helps make it easier for the other good things to happen.
    .-= Squirrelers´s last blog ..Delayed Retirement to the Extreme =-.

    • Wise Squirrel,

      I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Specifically, I would like to help some people who have lost jobs and need help. But, I’m not quite in that position yet. Hopefully, in the next few years, I will be able to give a little more.

  • Nice post Bret.

    When you talk about semi-retirement and working for a purpose, two finance books that come to my mind are Work Less, Live More and Your Money Or Your Life.

    They really helped me think about the possibility of leaving full-time work early and doing something more with my life.
    .-= Darren´s last blog ..Working Overtime – A Blessing Or A Curse? =-.

    • Darren,

      I have always wanted to read Your Money or You Life and you inspired me to pick it up on Amazon today. As for Work Less, Live More, I may check it out next. Thanks for the tip. And, thanks for stopping by.

  • Wow, Bret. I really like your insight that says in order to preserve wealth it needs to have a purpose.

    In fact, I wish I had read your post a few days earlier because then I could have integrated that into my post on things your suburban millionaire neighbor won’t tell you! LOL

    Once again, more sage advice from one of my favorite financial senseis. 🙂

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com
    .-= Len Penzo´s last blog ..19 Things Your Suburban Millionaire Neighbor Won’t Tell You =-.

    • Thanks Len,

      I got this concept from an older post where I wrote “Wealth without purpose looks a lot like disposable income”. And, then I started thinking that it deserved an entire post. What’s the point of becoming wealthy if you have no purpose for your money?

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