I’m out running errands with my two younger girls when the oldest suddenly announces that the owners of the house we just drove by “must be rich”. I ask her why she thought that and she states “well they have all these nice things in their yard, a pool, a big house, and all those new cars”.
Oh my! It’s time for us to have a little talk about what rich really means, and of course about debt. You see I want my kids to grow up knowing that we are rich, their friends are rich. That they are surrounded by some of the richest people I know. No, they are not all rich in terms of wealth, but their life is rich. It’s full of contentedness, spirituality, happiness, fun, memories and so much more.
photo credit (adapted by practicing frugal)
Merriam-Webster defines rich as:
1. Having abundant possesssions especially material wealth 2. having high value or quality 3.magnificently impressive 4. vivid and deep in color 5. highly productive or remunerative
Why is it that most kids start out with the generalized thought that wealth makes a person rich? or that having a lot of possessions makes a person rich?
I can remember growing up thinking this very same thing. Thinking that most of the kids I went to school with were so rich. They acted that way, they had really nice things, they had big houses, but did they really own it all? Were they really happy?
Until I became an adult, I thought those were the things that defined wealth. Until I learned about credit and debt, I thought just having something meant you were rich. Having many something’s meant you were really, really rich. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned about things like quality, colorful, and most of all contentedness, I thought wealth was the only path to being rich.
So what exactly did I tell my 10 year old that day?
After thinking a few minutes about what I wanted to say, I decided to take it to the dictionary. I felt it would be best to explain what rich means with the definition. Besides, that’s what we do at home if we don’t know what a word means, we look it up. So she pulled it up on my phone and read the many possible meanings of such word.
First, I explained to her that most people associate wealth with being rich, but there are so many more ways to define rich. Just like the dictionary said, there is having quality. Living a quality life doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bunch of money. You are trying to carve out the best life you can for your family. Spending quality time with family and friends. Making quality memories that will last a lifetime.
Quality can be achieved most when a person is content. It doesn’t mean you may settle being in a bad situation, it’s a place, it’s a feeling, and it’s being okay with where you are now. It’s knowing things will get better, but not dwelling in misery about the things you don’t have.
We also talked about having color in our lives and how it can add richness to your life. Just like people say colorful things make them feel good, having color in your life, variety, fun, love, and spirituality will make you feel good. It will make you feel like the richest person in the world.
The last thing I told her came from the practical financial side of me. The side of me that want’s my kids to know that possessions don’t define wealth. I told her that you may very well hear it defined that way, but having possessions does not mean a person owns them. I explained to her about debt and that some people have an appearance of owning many things, but they are still paying for them, and that you really don’t own something until it is paid for. We talked about how many times these seemingly rich people never pay for all those things, and it can all be taken away, further reinforcing the reality of ….. you don’t own it till it’s paid for.
I’m so glad we got to talk about this subject. I want my kids to have the contentedness that I did not have growing up. I want them to enjoy the here and now in their lives and not live life wishing they had more or could be like someone else. I want them to know that it doesn’t mean settling somewhere that is not their goal, but to be content in the path it will take to get there. To be content in doing what needs to be done to get where you want to be. To enjoy life along the way. To savor relationships, make memories and most of all laugh a lot.
These things make me rich.
What’s your meaning of rich?
making a habit out of living frugal…..
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