Waiting. There is a pervasive sense of “when that happens….I will…” When we know about  the election, when the market hits the bottom, when spring comes….there are so many ways in which we place roadblocks on the path of life. With closer examination we begin to realize how much of the living of our lives we leave in the hands of others – we relinquish our ability to choose. In so doing, we relinquish the most precious of our freedoms.

Walking on the beach brings such clarity to this sometimes muddled and fearful mind. Recently as I walked on East Beach in the soft morning light of another glorious sunrise, I thought about the small circle of clients and friends that I know well. I began to notice the similarities of those who seem to greet each day with gratitude and peace. In contrast are those who seem to find daily the angst and worry of those matters so far beyond our control. Whatever might these common traits of the peaceful have to do with financial planning? With little or no correlation to the calculated net worth, it seems to me, quite a lot. The traits that I observe in the “wealthiest” of my friends and clients are the following:

  1. Very low or no debt – yes – even mortgages.
  2. Purposeful spending based on their considered priorities.
  3. Spending consistently less than their income.
  4. Cash reserves for emergencies and unexpected opportunities.
  5. Adequate medical insurance.
  6. A generous spirit.
  7. Close friends and family.
  8. Many and varied interests – yes – the world does not begin and end with CNBC “Market Watch.”

While these observations are not extraordinary in any way, collectively, they describe for me a position of true “wealth.” Wealth is not really accumulated in how much we earn and keep in the course of our lifetimes. True wealth comes as a result of the choices that we make on a daily basis in the use of our resources. As I think about the wealthiest of my friends, I know that they are not watching their “bottom lines” and measuring the daily rise and fall of their portfolio values. They are much too busy living their lives with purpose and gratitude.