Wealth Trumps Income
by Tom Chatham, Project Chesapeake Richard Russell made an interesting statement recently. He believes wealth trumps income and after thing about it, I have to agree. Many people today do not understand the difference between wealth and income. They think one equates to the other. When people look at someone else today they immediately try to determine how much they make as a way to determine how wealthy they are. While it is true that the more you make, the easier it is to accumulate wealth, that is not a guaranteed outcome. What you do with your money is more important than how much you make in most cases. The psychological aspect of income is all most people immediately respond to. A recent study indicates that most women will not even consider dating a man that does not have a steady job. While there are exceptions, this indicates that most women see income as the most important element when it comes to finding a mate. While having a job is one indicator of potential wealth, it is not the only defining one. There are many people today making over $100k per year and find it difficult to survive because they spend more than they make. On the flip side, how many wealthy old men do you see with beautiful young wives? If you see a well dressed man throwing around hundred dollar bills and getting into a limo, few people ask if he has a job. They only see a wealthy person and respond to that perception. This is getting off the track a bit but is something to think about. Wealth is a matter of what manages to “stick” to an individual over the course of time. I actually know someone that inherited around 50 million dollars some years ago. Within 10 years it was all gone and he had nothing to show for it. As unbelievable as that sounds, it is a true story. Someone that makes $10k a year and is careful with their funds can actually have more wealth within a few years than someone making $50k a year and spending freely trying to live like their neighbors. As I have said before, wealth is not the paper assets you have but the physical things you buy with it. This includes knowledge. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “when a man pours his wallet into his head, no one can take it from him”. Knowledge is a form of wealth that you can spend over and over again and never run out. Getting back to the wealth trumps income statement, it is obvious over time that the amount of money that sticks to you is independent of income and ultimately determines your wealth. This is why wealth is ultimately more important than income on many levels. Your income can be cut off at any time and leave you with nothing but bills you cannot pay but wealth is already in your hands and being used every day in the form of physical goods to maintain your current standard of living. You don’t need income when you have sufficient real wealth. Real wealth is what allows you to sleep at night no matter how good or bad the economy is. That is something someone with a safe full of gold or a self sufficient homestead knows. Granted, some income is necessary these days if for nothing more than to pay taxes but the need for income is greatly reduced when you have real wealth that provides the things you need to survive from day to day in a nominal state of comfort. For those that contemplate the future with dread as the economy sinks ever lower, it is important to realize what has the most impact on your economic future. Making sure that much of the income you get will stick will make a larger impact on your standard of living than anything else. You can try to wing it through life as most people do or you can sit down and decide how to leverage the funds you get and amass true wealth to insure you can take care of your family no matter what the economy does in the future. How much you make is not as important as what you do with it.