What Does it Take to be Rich?
To Be or Not To Be...Rich
What does it mean to be rich? How does one become rich? Is it possible to become rich if you weren't born with a Silver Spoon in your mouth or even your hand? How does it happen, really?
First off, I think we need to define rich. According to the 2003 Oxford dictionary, rich means 1. having much money or many assets. 2. having or producing something in large amounts; abundant. 3. fertile soil. 4. (food) containing much fat or sugar; (color) pleasantly deep and strong. Riches is included with a definition of: Wealth. We will concentrate on numbers 1, 2, 3, and Riches.
In accordance with the 2003 Oxford dictionary, rich is defined as having an abundant amount of money and/or assets as well as general wealth. What does this mean? It means anyone who has enough money in the bank to buy a brand new car and pay in cash is rich. It means anyone who is able to buy a house and a brand new car while maintaining a substantial balance in a savings account is rich. It also means anyone who earns enough money to do these things, whether or not they choose to, is also rich.
What Exactly is Rich?
As we already discovered, through a dictionary definition, there is more than one way to be rich. I am not talking about food or color. I am talking about other, non-material riches. Such as friendship, kindness, courage, and loyalty. How does one become rich in these areas? Forming and maintaining friendships is one way. Showing kindness and courage when warranted is another. Loyalty will naturally follow friendships, kindness and courage. So what about money? How does a person, a human being, become rich? Or wealthy?
Some say only the rich can be rich. Meaning, of course, hereditary richness. An inheritance. I, for one, do not believe that to be true. If it were true, the many immigrants who land on America's shores would never become rich. They would never be able to improve their lives and would live in poverty forever no matter where they called home. If it were true, Bill Gates would never have earned a dime after he first created the personal computer.
There are some who say in order to make money one must spend money. Meaning, of course, take out large dollar amount student loans in order to go to college. This does not work for everyone. There are untold numbers of college graduates with impressive degrees who cannot find a job in the area they hold a degree in. There are even more untold numbers of college graduates who cannot find a job period. These college graduates spent the money yet now are unable to make the money promised them. Spending money does not earn money. That is a myth.
Then you have those who say hard work pays off. Meaning, of course, the harder you work the more money you will have; the richer you will be. I'm sorry, but I refuse to fall for this fallacy as much as the next guy. I am no fool. I understand it takes hard work to get ahead, but it will only keep you there for a limited time. Until the college graduate comes along. Or the family name.
Honestly, there must be another way.
The Path to Riches
Less than 50 years ago I was born to a set of parent who had neither gone to college nor graduated high school. My mother was a stay at home mom, and my father worked in a foundry. My father never took a vacation, choosing instead to receive an extra paycheck once a year in order to get caught up on some bills or provide the family with a little more. My sister and I not only graduated from high school, but have attempted to continue our education. So far, neither of us has earned a degree.
Did we choose to fall in love? No, it happened as natural as life itself. Being young and having grown up in poverty we understood it took a two-income household to get by. Life didn't wait for us to catch up. We had children, divorced, and started over. Did we 100% choose our lives? No. We did not choose to learn our respective husbands were deadbeats. Life taught us this lesson. Life also taught me many other useful things.
Such as how to get diapers when I had no cash and my checking account was empty. How to cut my own hair and my children's hair since I had no money to take them to the salon. I learned to use coupons when going to the cheapest grocery store in town. I never pay full price for anything I buy. I wait until its on clearance. I go to the food pantry when its time to refill a prescription. I have one pair of shoes and will not purchase another until the current pair is worn through. I get my furniture from friends who give it to me when they buy something new, or from garage sales and thrift stores. I buy the cheapest laundry detergent, dish soap, and toiletries I can find. I watch for and go to any free giveaways that will benefit my family. In other words, I have learned how to provide for my family with the meager income I was capable of obtaining without a college degree.
What Does It Mean "To Be Rich"?
According to the 2009 Census Bureau a single parent household with 8 children is in poverty if they earn less than $41,476 per year. For a single parent with 2 children that number drops to $17,285. These numbers actually surprise me. As a single parent with 3 children, I have never earned over $26,000 per year. My lifestyle has not changed although according to the statistics on poverty, I am now considered to be low-income. The only time in my life when I bought a new mattress was when I received my income tax return 3 years ago. I still use coupons and go to the cheapest grocery store. I still cut my own hair and my children's hair. I do have more than one pair of shoes, but my second pair was required for work - I had to wear steel-toed boots. I still go to garage sales and thrift stores. The detergent, soap and toiletries I buy come in economical packs. I still don't pay full price for anything I buy - I can only afford to shop the clearance aisles. Occasionally I have to return to the food pantry. Teenage boys eat a lot! I am no longer in need of free giveaways - they are primarily targetted to families with young children.
When I heard the statistics for poverty I was shocked. I felt I had been living in poverty my entire life! How could this be? How did I end up in the low-income bracket? I am not ashamed in the least to acknowledge I am poor. For me it has been a way of life that has enabled me to hope and plan for my future. The only problem is, my future is here. My job of the past three years is when I came close to earning $26,000 in one year. I felt rich. My checking account balance never went below $25.00. I was putting $25.00 a month into a savings account - although I did have to use it occasionally. I could actually pay for my son to take drivers education rather than making him wait until he was 18 when drivers ed. would no longer be required. It felt good to be able to support myself and my small family.
There is one thing about life I will never understand. I will never be able to comprehend how someone who earns $100,000 per year or more does not consider themselves rich. It is obvious to me that any such person could never have lived through poverty. A person who has lived through poverty and continues to struggle with improving their life despite the many obstacles and roadblocks they encounter has the absolute right to be proud of themselves, and to consider themselves rich. Despite what the rich people say.
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© 2010 Rafini
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