BlogMoneyMoney Advice

How Much Is ‘Wealthy’?

Ask someone how much money they would require before they considered themselves wealthy, and they’ll give you a unique number. A number personal to them. Different to someone else’s.

That’s because wealth isn’t a number. It’s is a relative term, meaning ‘compared to who’. It’s more of a feeling than a specific amount.

If you had never had a penny in your bank account and I were to give you £10,000, you would probably ‘feel’ wealthy.

You may tell all your friends (who also never had a penny in their banks,) about your new wealthy status, and you’d feel wealthy when compared to them.

Until that is, you came across a friend who discloses to you that they have £30,000 in the bank, and suddenly you don’t feel so wealthy.

When we imagine being wealthy, the only thing we can relate to is our present circumstances and the circumstances of our friend group.

If you were a millionaire, you wouldn’t feel any less wealthy because Bill Gates was a billionaire. That’s because Bill Gates is probably not in your friend group.

I had a friend, a successful business man, who lived in a ‘Hall’ in North Yorkshire. Occasionally I’d visit him there, and the contrast between his lifestyle and mine would be brought sharply into focus.

I remember he said to me one day ‘you think I’m wealthy don’t you Perry?’ I smiled.

‘I have friends’ he continued, ‘that will spend what I earn in a year, on a family holiday’.

I knew at that precise moment he was feeling exactly the way I did when I compared my lifestyle to his.

Despite his relative wealth, he occasionally ‘felt’ poor.

We live in a relative world. Good compared to what? Old compared to who? High compared to what?

Maybe we have ‘enough’. But enough compared to who.

If you live in the U.K., you’re already in the top 20% of earners in the world. You’ll have somewhere to live, food in a fridge, heating in the winter, water from a tap and an indoor toilet.

Wealth is relative. Be happy. But happy compared to who?