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What’s Your Motivation for Becoming Wealthy?

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Becoming wealthy

The following is a contribution from my blogging friend Ben at The Wealth Gospel. If you’d like to contribute to Frugal Rules, please contact us.

As someone who often thinks about money and personal finance, I sometimes take a step back and wonder why I’m so obsessed with it. And then I wonder why any of us spend so much time working towards becoming wealthy.

I know my views on money go back to when I got my first job at age 14. I’d always tell my brother ‘no’ when he wanted me to go get lunch or see a movie. Instead, I saved up and bought a computer. I loved that computer. I spent hours and hours playing Diablo and Roller Coaster Tycoon, and burning cds to create “Dr. Love AKA Ben’s Greatest Hits” (oh you know it…those babies were in high demand!).

We all have our reasons for wanting to become wealthy, and I feel like mine have changed over the years. Here are some of the ones I came up with while walking down memory lane.

Self-Esteem

 

Even though I felt the computer was worth it, it hurt to give all that money up. I would never see it again. And while I felt like I was the bee’s knees, I felt somehow inferior to a couple of my friends who had saved more than me. Saving money then became part of my self-worth. It’s nice to have the feeling that you’re established, that you have built this large financial moat around yourself. In a lot of ways, being wealthy puts you in a position of strength.

I think this is still a small part of my motivation to become wealthy, but with all the financial struggles my wife and I have gone through over the past few years, I’m glad I’ve largely moved on to other motivations.

Material Wealth

 

In my opinion, being wealthy and being materially wealthy are two completely different things. Growing up none of my friends’ families had a lot of material wealth, but the area I live in now is full of it. When we get a chance, my wife and I will take a walk beyond our little apartment complex and walk through the nearby neighborhoods. The houses are gorgeous and the luxury cars shiny and new. These are the people who have used their wealth to provide themselves with comfort and superfluity.

But as nice as it all is to look at, material wealth has never been something I’ve wanted. Other than the time I wanted a full basketball court in my home (because I was obviously going to be an NBA star), the idea of surrounding myself with stuff just isn’t appealing. Of course, just because I don’t want it doesn’t mean I have the right to judge those who do.

Experiences

 

When I was in high school, I had a friend whose parents seemed pretty middle class. Neither of them had very high paying jobs, their house was pretty low-key, and they never had a lot of nice things. But once all of the kids were out of the house, they started traveling. In fact, for a long time, they were gone more often than they were home. They had been saving their entire working lives so they could enjoy the world.

As I’ve had my own experiences living in Germany as a missionary for two years and doing humanitarian aid in Fiji and Mexico, I’ve become more and more inclined to forego certain things now so I can experience the world with my family. Of course, travel isn’t for everyone (weirdos), but there are plenty of other experiences to motivate you. Like season tickets to your favorite college or professional team, box seats at the opera, or flying into space (although I guess if you don’t want to go to different places on this earth, you’d probably also be opposed to leaving it).

Altruism

 

My experience in Fiji that I mentioned before not only awakened the wanderlust in me, but it also opened my eyes to the reality of the world we live in. Whenever my wife and I go on those walks to see the large, opulent houses, I can’t help but think about those people I met in Fiji and Mexico, living in houses made of corrugated steel or adobe, and the little children I met with sores all over their bodies because of malnutrition. For many different reasons, a lot of these people can’t escape their circumstances on their own. But there’s the possibility that I might be able to help them.

If I really think about it, this is probably my greatest motivator to become wealthy. In fact, the name of my blog comes from Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth, which is built on the premise that those blessed with wealth should use it to help others. The more I think about it, the more it motivates me.

Security

 

This has become a big motivator for me over the last few years as my wife and I struggled through college and the first couple of years afterward, but even more so now that there’s a bun in the oven. As a husband and father, the last thing I want is for my loved ones to know poverty.

That being said, financial security means different things to different people. It depends on your goals and expectations. Even now, my view of what it would take for me to feel secure financially is different than it was a year ago. The key is to keep working until you get there.

 

There are several reasons why anyone would want to become wealthy. None of them are necessarily better or worse, because we’re all different. What is your motivation? What does ‘wealthy’ mean to you?

 

Ben is a freelance writer and blogger who does his thing over at The Wealth Gospel. He’s passionate about helping people find their true potential and align their behaviors with it. 10% of his monthly food budget goes to chips and salsa.

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Andrew Magill

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

48 Comments

  • My family is one big motivation for me. I’d like to be rich enough so that I can treat my parents to all the good things in life. They’ve sacrificed a lot for me and this time it’s my turn to give back.

  • Kim says:

    I want to be wealthy for the choices it brings. You can choose to travel, continue to work, donate time or money, really whatever you want. Being poor takes the choice away and all you can do is try and keep you head above water.

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Very true! I’m seeing that more and more right now as we’re trying to keep things leveled with debt payments. Would be awesome to have that freedom–one day! 🙂

  • Experiences, security, and freedom. I don’t care too much for material possessions, but I love sleeping great at night and feeling like I have plenty of options.

  • I’ve gone through many of the same motivations as you. When I was little, I save up my money for a NES. At the time, I was blown away by how much I had to pay in sales tax! I then moves on to the material stage, where I too wanted a basketball court in my house and a go-kart track in my backyard. Now, I’ve realized that as cool as those would be, I don’t want to pay the enormous property tax bill every year. I want to have money for traveling and other fun experiences in life.

  • We went through so many of these things too, Ben! Now, we want wealth simply to have freedom: freedom to do what we want and need to do and to help others as we please. Materialism, acceptance, it’s completely lost its luster now. 🙂

    • Ben Luthi says:

      I totally agree with what you said about materialism and acceptance losing its luster. The older I get, the less I care what other people think about me. I think for some people, though, the reverse happens.

  • Gretchen says:

    I would be lying if I said that competition isn’t a part of my motivation, but an even larger part is freedom. I love working, have no desire to quit, but I would like the freedom to not worry about money, to know I could walk away from a job at any moment, and to pursue my passions!

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Same here. I love working and doing something meaningful, but one day I’m going to want to do something else meaningful, and it will be nice when I can do that without any worries.

  • I’m with some of these commenters above, in that wealth building leads to freedom. That, I believe, is what drives me the most now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Michelle says:

    My main motivation is security. I don’t have any family to fall back on (I was only close to my father and my younger sister, and my father passed away), and I haven’t since I was in high school. Knowing that everything is up to me and has been for awhile definitely is a big motivator.

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Dang. I think I’ve only borrowed $500 from my parents in the last 10 years since high school, but I think it would be difficult to not have at least the comfort of being able to go to them if I need to.

      Kudos to you for truly being self-reliant!

  • As my husband and I have been intentional about getting out of debt, I have struggled with the idea, “Why are you making money a focus? That’s a false value.” I know it’s an irrational thought, but it’s deep in my psyche apparently. So I really appreciate this post! “Wealth” on its own is not selfish or false or materialistic. It can be used altruistically – but only if you manage money well to begin with. Here’s hoping you reach all of your goals – financial and otherwise!

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Thanks! It really is good for me to ask myself that every now and then because I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing it all for myself. I need to do some rebalancing every now and then.

  • I’ve never put much thought into my motivation for being wealthy, perhaps because achieving wealth isn’t a specific goal. However, security and altruism definitely hit home for me. I never want to feel like I don’t have enough money to pay the bills or put food on the table, and I really enjoy helping others and hope to do more of that in the future. Great post! I especially loved this line: “Of course, travel isn’t for everyone (weirdos), but…” Ha! 🙂

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Haha it’s totally true though 🙂 I can’t understand people who don’t love to travel. But then again, I’m sure those people don’t understand my wanderlust either.

  • Kassandra says:

    Being able to support our family is a huge motivator to achieve FI in our home. I also want to have more time to do more charitable works and help others in the community, especially those with lower income to improve their financial odds. Being able to afford the time is precious.

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Ooh I like what you said about being able to afford the time. My time is a lot more valuable to me than my money. Probably because it allows me to do the type of things you suggest. Thanks for the food for thought!

  • Great post, Ben. I definitely view wealth differently than when I was teen too. Today, I want wealth for security and freedom. Being able to choose how I spend my time and money is very precious to me. I won’t pretend I don’t love certain material things because I do, but I know where they fit within all my priorities too. Being able to create a good life for my family is my top priority.

  • I think we can all relate to some of these! I would say my main motivation right now is security. I want to make sure we can handle whatever expenses pop up on us, and not have to worry about it. I do value the choices that money gives us as well!

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Security’s definitely a big one for us with our baby coming next February. We probably won’t be doing much traveling, but we definitely want to make sure he’s well taken care of.

  • Experiences are my number one motivation to work toward wealth with security to have experiences coming in second. I very much feel like I’m still learning and navigating the adult world, so my idea may be unrealistic, but I would rather forgo the house and cars in favor of incredible experiences. I also don’t want those to all be saved for later. I want experiences while I’m young and I want the financial security to enjoy experiences after retirement without having to work until I die. It’s funny how time is so intrinsically tied into this. A person may have to work like crazy now to afford the time off later in life or vice versa when all I really want is a long term balance of both to fit in experiences incrementally the whole way.

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Great thoughts! I was just telling my wife the other day that I wish I had more experiences when I was single. The older you get, the harder it becomes. And the last thing I want is to save all my money and then die when I’m 60 lol.

  • I used to be more concerned with becoming financially wealthy and now my focus is more on becoming experience wealthy. We are growing our wealth with the goal of enjoying our lives more and giving back more. Having a focus like this makes it easier for us to build our wealth because it feels like something we want to achieve sooner than later.

  • Ben Luthi says:

    Couldn’t agree more! It reminds me of Mr. Money Mustaches article about living in a position of strength–making it so that you really don’t need to fuss about whatever comes your way because you have the security to push through it.

  • Honestly it’s very similar to your list. The idea of stuff doesn’t impress me…I think it might have at one point, but it’s something that I’ve grown out of.

  • I want to have lots of money so I don’t have to worry about money. It’s nice not having debt and to constantly have that over my head. It’s just something we really don’t have to think about because we have our life in order. It’s not the easiest decision to do…the average person would rather “keep up with the Jones’ ” instead of putting their shoulder to the wheel and CTR.

  • I just don’t want to have to work forever. I’m not against working because I like to do something, but I don’t want to HAVE to get up and go to work. That’s it.

  • Jason B says:

    One of the reasons that I want to become wealthy is because I want to travel the world. I have been to several cities in the US, but I haven’t used my passport yet.

  • I think my motivation would simply be independence. You can be secure and give back without being wealthy but I think I want to have more money than your average middle class family so that I can do what I want with my time (especially), and my money, too.

  • For me wealthy is having enough to spend on things you value without counting pennies. I never spent like crazy so I am happy if I can afford whatever little things I want without compromising my finances.

    • Ben Luthi says:

      I like that. Because everyone values different things–it’s easy to get caught up in the “anti-latte” or “anti-new car” culture, but if it’s something you value and you can afford it, why not?

  • I would say that security is my main motivator for building wealth. Right now I’m funemployed (i.e. bringing in next to no money) and having short-term savings (in addition to sufficient long-term) has given my husband and me such incredible peace of mind. In other ways, I consider myself already quite wealthy so I just try to be grateful for my health, my community, my family, my free time, etc.

    • Ben Luthi says:

      I know a little how the opposite feels. I was unemployed my first 6 months out of college and we had barely any savings. Even though we were living with my in-laws at the time, it was terrifying.

  • Amy says:

    Ha, I’m one of those weirdos who isn’t motivated by a desire to travel. 🙂

    For me, the motivation is really just security. Having a lot of debt is stressful, and I’ll feel much more secure once it’s paid off. But I’ll still worry about paying for retirement, and hopefully, my daughter’s college education. So the security of knowing I can pay for those things, is what I’m aiming for.

    • Ben Luthi says:

      Weirdo!

      lol just kidding 🙂 To each his or her own, right? I think that’s great. I think the main thing is when you step back and think about your motivations, it gets you to actually think about the future–not a lot of people do that!

  • Squirrelers says:

    My motivation is to make money to avoid being old and broke, when I really think about what drives me. Also, I want to make a good life for my kids.

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