So you want to be rich!

Is being rich all that is cranked up to be? Is being poor so bad? What is being rich?

Wealth is probably one of the hardest topics to discuss. In a society like the US where 1% of the population hold about 90% of the money it is really hard to really understand what “rich” means. Even when you dissect our society into economic levels the breakdown still looks like a very funny looking pyramid.

I have been in several economic levels in this country. At first my family arrived to this country with no money and not much more than the clothes on our back. Then I got my degree and a decent job to the point that I was able to afford a beautiful house. To some people, actually to a huge percentage of the population having 2 brand new vehicles and owning a house in an affluent neighborhood would mean that we are rich. In reality we are not, we have bills, debt, and will eventually be solvent enough to not use credit. I aspire to have all the things that I want, fulfill my dreams, but not to be “rich.”

The word rich is so inaccurate at times. I have met people that have a lot of money in my short life, but in reality it does not mean as much as most people think. Much like race, there is a lot of preconceived notions about how people are in higher economic levels, but those notions are less accurate than even race stereotypes. My Great Grand Father was the owner of two hotels, several properties and was able to give each one of his kids a house when they got married. My Great uncles drank and partied two hotels down the drain and in the end were left with nothing. If you saw either one of them on the street you would have never even imagined that they came from such wealth, because in the end money did not do much for their lives.

The people that bother me the most with the whole “rich” title is the “wannabes”. The people that are really not that affluent, but are somewhat comfortable and start to feel like the world owes them something. Truly affluent people are not like Paris Hilton or the girls from that TV show “Rich Girls” that parade around their wealth and seem to have a lower IQ than their pets. Some “rich” people actually care about education and make sure that their kids have the opportunities, but create their own wealth.

It is true that is a lot easier to make money when you have money. It is also true that the more money you make the easier things are to obtain. However, the rat race is not all that is cranked up to be if you are compromising, your family, your values or health in the process. If you were not born into wealth, you can get it; just make sure that you do it for reasons that you later are going to be proud of.

Going to a private high school gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of kids with parents that had a lot of money. They had amazing vacations and every toy that you might want. My first real vacation happened when I was an adult and my family took a trip down to Colombia to visit family. Some of those kids did not have just one bike, but several so when friend came over everyone could ride. I was amazed by it, but it did not bother me as I understood that even though my Dad could not afford all of those things, he always gave me everything he could. My Mom always made sure to make us aware that my Dad worked hard for us and that he was not just a good father but also an excellent provider. My Dad’s hobbies are almost all related to soccer, listening to the sport talk radio every day, going to play soccer on Sunday with the company team, or going to see a game. My Dad could never afford to go see a world cup in some far away land, but he was always content with what he had and I am content with what he gave me. More important than anything monetary, his lessons on work ethic and morals are more valuable than a vacation every summer or the latest toy in the market.

Some of my friends that grew up with a lot more than I did, grew up without their parents. They were taken care of by nannies or other family members while their parents continued their various careers. I remember one of my friends in school; I visited his house a couple of times. I met his driver, his cook, even some of his cousins but never met his parents. Not sure if he would have preferred all the commodities he had to some actual time with his parents.

Money is something that so many long for, but in reality I think that there are lot more important things in life; family being at the very top. Some of the happiest people I have ever met did not have a dime to their name.

8 comments on “So you want to be rich!

  1. Usted tiene toda la razón. Uno ve gente “pudiente” que vive a todas horas preocupada porque se les va a caer un negocio, porque se les va a escapar un cliente, porque no están produciendo dinero en algún momento; mientras ve a personas de estratos bajos que se diviertne con lo poco que tienen y que miran al rededor y encuentran un gran tesoro en su familia.

  2. First, let me commend you on a blog entry well done. Secondly, I would like to add to your entry but somewhat in a different direction. I had a conversation with my little brother about three weeks ago as we were walking back to my house from work. I was explaining to him how ironic it is that mainstream America believes that one’s career determines one’s worth relative to everyone else. I was further explaining to him how a CEO could make a lot of money and everyone gives that person a lot of worth, but how valuable is that really? Take for example a janitor. A janitor is one of the most “lowly” career positions in the U.S., but what if a janitor volunteered at some place and tutored kids in reading or in math. Compared to the CEO, the janitor is spreading his / her wealth of “knowledge” as opposed to expending capital. It doesn’t cost a dime (well, except for gas mileage) to tutor an at-risk kid.

    What you say is true about people who earn a lot. They often have very little time to spend with their children, because they spend more time taking care of their money instead of their kiddos. Discussing values is one of my favorite discussions. I even took a course my first semester last fall at the graduate college of social work here at the University of Houston called “Social Work values and ethics”.

    I spend an enormous amount of time studying cultures and their values. For me though, where the line crosses is when and at what time is it appropriate to intercede between one’s values within one’s culture? The answer to that is a challege, but a good guide is the NASW code of ethics. Based on those guidelines, challenging social injustice is a requirement. Take for example female genital mutilation. In Africa it is culturally acceptable. Let’s say I’m dealing with African immigrants who recently had their daughter “fixed”. Well, should I have them prosecuted or not? Ahhh, lots of questioning on that one. And that’s just one example.

  3. I say absolutely have them prosecuted. Female circumcision is one of the most disgusting things that are done in our world. When I first heard about it during a sociology course I was repulsed. I don’t care what culture you have (you said immigrant so I assume that the people live here in the US, and the mutilation happened here), if the act itself is illegal people need to go to jail. If you move to this country, you need to learn the laws and culture here, so ignorance or cultural acceptable to me is a mute point here.

  4. I was going to say something about money, but the genital mutilation thing made me ill. I do not see how there can be an ethical dilemna here. It is repuslive, immoral, and illegal. Turn them in to law enforcement.

  5. And then you also have those stories of the really “rich” people that never see their kids, never take vacations and really don’t even know each other. I can’t imagine that being worthwhile.

  6. You are sooo right on the mark on several points, here!

    Out of the many “quotable” lines you wrote, I was struck the most by this: “If you were not born into wealth, you can get it; just make sure that you do it for reasons that you later are going to be proud of.”

    That’s the beauty of politics. It has created a system that allows people to escalate a socio-economical pyramid if they choose to do so. And s for the reasons you can be proud of, well, being rich here takes hard work, perseverance, street-smarts maybe, dedication, credit, funding, and what not, but unlike YOUR country and MY country (both in Latin America) it does not take “playing the game of deception” that everybody is so used to playing. C’mon, even if you fund a succesful and booming enterprise, you’d be faced with the need to “sell you integrity” to avoid facing a shutdown by corrupt policemen, agovernment agents, etc. Anyway, I HAVE deviated from your post.

    Again, excellent reflection. I myself grew up OBSESSED with making riches for riches sake, and have not achieved them, nor have I achieved happiness. I do not have kids because I think I still cannot affor them, or provide enough so they won’t complain as I did to my parents, but is … just a neverending rat-race.

    You mention contentment, and I have chosen to call it conformity, and it doing so, have become so uncomfortable, and unhappy.. and not-a-millionaire by $998,500 that it seems I chose thw wrong path. But reading your post, is valuable, I appreciate you sharing about your family with such a candid openness.

  7. Having experienced both sides of the spectrum to some degree (never rich, but upper middle I’d say), I think I have an educated view of money and it’s effects. Personally I would love to be rich. It’s not that I’d like to have all of that money to have it. I want all of that money so I can enjoy life the way I’d like to, not based on how much money I make. I’d love to travel all over the world. I’d also love to learn many different trades and degrees. But because I’m not a millionaire, those things are not realistic goals. Basically what I’m saying is I’d love to be a multi-millionaire because I’d never have to worry about money again, and I’d be able to do what I want. Being a millionaire would give me the freedom I could only dream of.

    I’ve read your blogs a few times, and I think they are excellent, keep it up!

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