Redefining Wealth: What does “wealth” mean to you?

March 6, 2024

Our second daughter Katherine had some unexpected health issues when she was born. I was planning to go back to work once she was a few months old and could be in daycare, but the health issues changed our plans—as often happens with kiddos! We asked our pediatrician what she recommended for Katherine’s health moving forward. She advised not having her in daycare and limiting her exposure to illnesses.

Fortunately, our finances were such that I was able to stay home with the girls. We had a low mortgage payment, we lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and this was 12 years ago. We didn’t have any debt, and we were already living primarily off Ryan’s income. He was in the Air Force so all of our healthcare was also taken care of.

While I’ve always factored in health as a priority, it was at that time in our lives I began to truly consider “health” as a true asset, a part of our family’s wealth.

As I think back, I believe Katherine’s health issues first began my journey toward redefining wealth. If you were to ask the previous generation about what they thought “wealth” meant, their answers might include a solid 401k, contributions to the stock market, and owning assets like a home. Today, I see a change coming in this definition.

In fact, it’s why I started Mosaic: to redefine what wealth means to each of us individually.  Personally, I define wealth as the ability to make choices, and options that create flexibility and creativity. I also see wealth as fluid—I believe it will and should change regarding our current situations and stages of life.

Deciding what’s important to you is an important step in redefining wealth. 

When an opportunity comes your way, you’ll be able to say yes or no, depending on your interests and passions and how your financial accounts have set you up for those opportunities. 

Wondering how to get started on defining wealth for yourself? 

When I think of wealth, I believe there are three primary assets or “pillars” that can help you define your own wealth and what’s important to you: time, health, and money. 

Use these as a guide to create your own definition.  

Time 

“Spend your time wisely.” Note how this common piece of advice uses the same verb as we do with money: “spend.” I feel strongly that time is a tangible asset and the ultimate choice we can have. 

The catch? You have to decide what’s important to you first. 

  • How: You get to decide; how you want to spend your time?  
  • Who: What deliberate choices will you make to decide who to spend your time with? 
  • When: Flexibility and control over your schedule are the ultimate wealth, allowing you to blend work and family or even volunteer as you decide. 
  • Why: Why am I spending time on something? Is it important to me? (Spending time on finances is always a good idea!) 

Health 

As I shared above, I consider actual physical health as part of our wealth. It often gets overlooked, but it’s essential to be able to do what we want to do. 

It’s tricky because there are many areas of health we can’t control. However, we can control things like exercise, eating healthy and generally paying attention to our bodies. When I’m on a run, I direct my mind towards gratitude: “I’m thankful my body is able to run!” and remind myself it’s up to me to put in the work to improve my mileage. 

If we think of health as a tangible wealth asset, we also must consider how healthcare fits into that mosaic. Some families may be quite “wealthy” in this category if you have good health care coverage through your employer. If it’s something you’re paying for on your own, it’s an expensive monthly cost that reduces your “wealth.” This month, take some time to make sure you clearly understand your out-of-pocket costs, what’s covered, and anything time-sensitive that needs to be addressed. It’s a piece of your financial picture you need to understand so you can feel confident moving forward with your finances. 

Money 

When you have a clear understanding of your finances—your income, cash flow, expenses, savings, and investments—you set yourself up to handle whatever the future brings. When life throws us unexpected blessings or challenges, we can make informed steps forward.  

  • Blessings: Sometimes, that blessing is an inheritance, where you get to make some choices about what to do with the money—paying off debt, investing for the long term, traveling with it, or maybe buying an investment property.  
  • Challenges: Maybe your car goes out of commission, or you have unexpected health issues. Knowing your financial picture will help you make decisions about your budget. 

At the end of the day, money gives us choices. It expands our options and lets our dreams become reality. But only if we save intentionally–it’s important we name those accounts and give our money purpose.  

March is redefining wealth month. I encourage you to spend 15 minutes on these three wealth pillars this month—time, health, and money—and write down what’s important to you within each category. Even better? Identify what’s not, and give yourself space to remove those items from your mosaic to make room for the things that matter most.  

Feel like sharing? Send me an email with your pillars, and I’ll be sure to respond.