What is Wealth?

Hannah Provost |

I hopped back into my car after dropping our kids at school this morning, heading towards Wilmington. Since the school year started I've blocked out Wednesdays as a work from home day, until recently out of necessity because we didn't have another arrangement for our son. Now that the kids are back in school full time, I've been keeping these days light so that I can get out on the trail.

I queued up the latest episode of the Gaelan Trombley Show, knowing the guest was my good friend John Bernardi. John and Gaelan shared their thoughts about true wealth. One of the themes was helping people and having generosity of spirit. I feel strongly that financial advisors are in the helping business. We enable people to reduce stress and live more. When we're really lucky, our advice contributes to people doing wonderful things for the families, their communities, and the world. In addition, our work allows us to be involved with organizations like the United Way of the Adirondacks, a vehicle that magnifies our gifts of time and dollars. As I pulled off the road I felt deep gratitude that I've been able to enjoy the richness of helping others.

Once I got on the trail, I was struck by another type of wealth. Here it is a Wednesday morning and I'm able to head into the woods without the worry of a lost day's pay or what the doctor's bill will be if I wreck an ankle (something I'm so prone to do!!). I told a client last week that our family's lives were changed when we committed to living with an emergency fund, and I really mean it. Building stability for our family absolutely changed how we operate in the world, the types of decisions we're faced with, and what we can say "yes" to. I've been privy to the way that so many families run their finances and can say confidently that stability has nothing to do with income. Once you have the income to meet basic needs, stability is a mindset. 

I made it to the turnaround point and on my way back, thought about the wealth coursing through my muscles and my brain. I only started hiking about two years ago, and on our first trip out I asked my husband to leave me 2/3 of the way up Rattlesnake Mountain - I was sure my legs and lungs could take no more. Today I was making great time, feeling strong and reveling in the sweat and the effort. Only recently I got up the courage to hike alone, a huge accomplishment for my often anxious mind. Comparing that first excursion to today, it's impossible not to break into a grin. Brad didn't let me wimp out on that first trip by the way... he pushed me to keep going despite my protests. That man is a keeper.

What does wealth mean to you? What richness are you grateful for in your life? I didn't even mention my kids, our family, and my friends here, but it goes without saying that they make up a huge part of my personal balance sheet too!