ARE YOU WEALTHIER THAN YOU THINK? What do Success and Wealth Mean to You?

By in Wealth | 7 comments

Have the Best Holiday Season Ever-Part 1

 a version of this article was originally posted on February 27, 2010    

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced everyday.”
Jim Rohn

 This sounds way too easy to be true! And, if you’re struggling to put food on the table, you may think it is totally wrong. But let’s dissect this quote for a moment, “success is a few simple disciplines”; is it possible that doing your absolute best at work everyday, showing up five minutes early, working harder than your co-workers could lead to advancement? Aren’t those just “a few simple    

image credit: Nicola Andriano

  disciplines?” I challenge you to practice those “few simple disciplines” at work everyday, no matter what, and see what happens!   

MAIN TOPIC; Starting Out

Although, you may not be at the career, financial, or personal level you desire right now, you may be better off than you think. Have you set some goals in those areas, and are you working towards them? If you answered yes, then you may already be rich! Maybe not rich in money, but rich in life purpose and meaning.  

 Now, I’m no Warren Buffett, Oprah, or Bill Gates, but my family’s net worth is above average for our income and age levels. We have never earned extraordinary salaries from our jobs, although our saving and investments have done very well over the years.  Our financial net worth is not what makes us rich, although it does offer some security. At every opportunity, we have chosen to live beneath our means. In fact, Jacob of  Early Retirement Extreme has made a career of living off very little. 

 When my husband and I were just starting out we lived in California, a really expensive city. He was in graduate school and I had a good job as a Career Counselor at an area university making about $31,000 (in inflation adjusted dollars that would equal about $61,809 today). I visited a financial advisor for some investing advice and he gave me a questionnaire. He was shocked when he saw that our monthly spending was only $1,800.00 (in today’s dollars that equals $3,589/month, a bit over $43,000 per year)! Even in status conscious California, we didn’t determine our value by what we bought! We didn’t have much money then, we lived in a one bedroom apartment in a middle class section of town. Fortunately, El Carino and I were always determined to live beneath our means. 

 We were by no means wealthy, but we were rich in ambition and LIFE GOALS:   

  • Continue our educations
  • Hold good jobs
  • Start a family
  • Buy a condo or home
  • Have fun

 Actually, our lifestyle was incredible. We partied with our friends, played football on the beach, went hiking, went to happy hours with free hors’doerves, watched TV, and went to movies (but only the bargain matinees). Even though my husband was in school, he never studied after dinner! (kind of like Cal the author of the Study Hacks blog). For vacation we drove to Las Vegas, stayed in discount hotel rooms and took advantage of buffets and coupon books with lots of freebies! Our net worth wasn’t much, but we were so rich!   

 Practical Application; What’s it all Mean?    

 Do you keep track of the good things that go on in your life, or are you always wanting more? What did you get for Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukah last year? If you are like most of us, you can’t remember. Yet, were you one of those who were paying off those presents well into the next year? Think about how much value you and your family got from those hundreds or thousands of dollars of holiday spending? Now think about a fun activity or vacation you participated in the past year; maybe it was a day trip, concert, show, vacation, or even a project around the house. The memories of activities are more powerful than those of THINGS and usually more pleasurable. And many activities don’t require lots of cash.   

Don’t approach your life with big regrets like Sam Walton of Walmart fame did (as shared at Redeeming Riches).     

 Action Step:

 Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.   

 Make a list all the things, people, experiences, attitudes, that you have that you value. Do this regularly, every couple of days. It will make you rich with life satisfaction. I call this activity my “Attitude Journal,” because it always boosts my attitude!     

How do you define success?    

If you enjoyed this article, pick up my RSS feed and follow me on twitter so you get the word immediately. You won’t want to miss the upcoming articles in this Holiday Series. 

Read more in How to Have the Best Holiday Season Ever-Part 2


  1. Sounds like you take a nice frugal balanced approach!

    For what we make (my wife only works 8 hrs a week), we are above our income/age group too. But I’ve always been a follower of the ideas in Thomas Stanley’s book “The Millionaire Next Door”. Some day I hope to be a PAW… 🙂

    Money Reasons

    December 2, 2010

  2. Nothing is better than to be rich in family. Having a great spouse and children is all I need to be happy. The benefits to doing the right thing in life are more valuable to me than anything.


    December 2, 2010

  3. I really like this post, Barb! You can absolutely have a very rich and satisfying life on a limited budget. Absolutely! There are so many ways to have fun on a budget (including memorable vacations) it isn’t even funny.

    The things in life that really matter require very little money.

    All the best,

    Len Penzo dot Com

    Len Penzo

    December 2, 2010

  4. @Money-I really enoyed all of Stanley’s Millionaire next door books. (Especially because they validate what I believe!)
    @Dave-I couldn’t agree more. Some of my most fun times are just hanging out with the family! And you can’t put a price on that!
    @Len-You are so right. In fact, if you let the advertisements and Jone’s define you, you will never be happy!
    Thank you all for the thoughtful comments.


    December 3, 2010

  5. Barbara,

    Your story and my story sound a lot alike, except we still live in California. Although it’s expensive, it’s an awesome lifestyle living at the beach.

    It’s so important when you are starting out to plan for the future, especially if you have a small income. Making those goals and visualizing the future does make the difference between becoming successful and just treading water.

    Bret @ Hope to Prosper

    December 4, 2010

  6. “Your story and my story sound a lot alike,”
    Hi Bret-then I am in good company. I’ve found that the action of goal setting assures that you will make progress towards those goals! Thank you for the visit.


    December 4, 2010

  7. I think we all get wrapped up in the future. I constantly remind myself to stay in the present! It’s a real challenge. When I start looking at all I have, the list goes on and on!


    December 8, 2010


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