Why wealth is personal and can mean freedom for many

Core beliefs can play a huge role in how a person adapts to wealth, if they are not born into it

About 88.5 per cent of the UAE’s population is made up of foreign workers and many are driven by a desire to create a better future for themselves and their families.

When someone climbs the socioeconomic ladder, there are always hidden emotional challenges that most money books do not discuss.

Core beliefs about money, which may be reinforced by social cultures, can play a huge role in how a person adapts to wealth if they are not born with money or privilege. When a family comes into wealth, they are similar to strangers arriving in a foreign land (and here in the UAE they really are).

There is a new culture to navigate, new rules to learn, signs, symbols and even a new form of language.

So, what is wealth and how is a wealthy life achieved? Wealth is personal. To me, it means freedom.

It is not an accumulation of material things. Above all, it is not a certain net worth. After all, there are people who would feel extremely wealthy to have accumulated and invested $500,000 by the time they retire, and others who would not even begin to feel wealthy with $5 million.

Wealth is mindset. At the very least, it frees you from financial worry about what will happen to you and your loved ones. No matter how much money you have, if you are still worried and anxious, you are not wealthy. Freedom from financial fear is, therefore, a great accomplishment.

Beyond that, wealth enables you to live the kind of life that is meaningful to you, even – and especially – when you no longer work to earn an income.

When your investments, as opposed to the sweat of your brow, provide sufficient income to live a full and joyful life, then you are truly wealthy – because you are free to make choices about how to spend your time, attention, energy and money.

Moreover, if your investments continue to grow in value even as you draw a retirement income from them, you will be able to distribute some of that wealth to your loved ones or the causes most important to you.

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Wealth is not primarily determined by investment performance but by investor behaviour
Sam Instone, co-chief executive of AES

Surely this is the ultimate wealth, regardless of how much money is involved. It can even be regarded as a kind of immortality created by leaving a lasting impact or legacy on the future.

The process of achieving wealth is actually quite simple – but not easy.

The principles and methods can be difficult to stick to. Practising them, no matter what is happening in the news, social media feeds or markets, can be difficult to sustain. That is why most investors fail to become wealthy.

But if you can stick to these few simple principles, wealth and the freedom it can bring are inevitable in the long run.

  1. It is simple to accumulate wealth through a patient, disciplined investment into low-cost equity exchange-traded funds, primarily in stocks of the world’s greatest companies.
  2. If history, economic science and data are any guide, with enough time and money, wealth is ultimately inevitable.

As Morgan Housel, the author of The Psychology of Money, says: “Doing well with money has little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave.”

It requires no special expertise and little energy, but a lot of time. Wealth accumulation is much less a function of what you know as what you do. There is no magic formula, no miracle cure nor a cryptocurrency shortcut.

By sticking to the two rules above, you can grow wealth that outlives you and allows you to leave a significant legacy to your children or leave the world positively affected by your existence.

Wealth is not primarily determined by investment performance but by investor behaviour. A wealthy life is not simply about the accumulation of more but is found at the intersection of this with the pursuit of better (whatever that may mean to you).

It is ultimately your responsibility to make sure your time spent overseas, along with the decisions you make, are not wasted.

What can you do today to avoid misbehaving yourself to poverty and start behaving and living on the path towards true wealth?

Sam Instone is co-chief executive of wealth management company AES

Updated: October 29th 2021, 4:00 AM
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