Apparently, Americans are getting wealthier. I can't help but think about the spoken line in Van Halen's iconic song, "Hot for Teacher," when David Lee Roth states, "I don't feel tardy." If I may adapt that to my situation, I will say, "I don't feel wealthy." Granted, wealth is an interesting concept, and it can be interpreted different ways. Compared to people in other countries, I am always wealthy here in the United States. However, in this economy, it doesn't feel like the money is flowing in.
The value of a house
Some of this wealth factor in this country is obviously a function of the housing market. My home value has fluctuated just like everyone else, and if I look up my address, I find that my house is worth more than in recent years. Obviously I understand that this is a big part of my "net worth, " but home equity doesn't help me pay my bills right now. I am not planning on moving anytime soon, which means that my home "wealth" does me little good from a practical, everyday standpoint.
Understanding the numbers
It is also important to understand the context of certain statistics. As noted in this article, "Households have finally reclaimed all the wealth they lost in the housing and stock-market busts - at least, if you don't count inflation." That "if you don't count inflation" part points to the reality that personal wealth has not been completed rebuilt for many people. In financial terms, you can't exactly measure investments without including inflation.
Wealth as a function of available cash
For now, I sort of see "wealth" as the ability to pay bills and earn a living. Thankfully, I have maintained employment through the economic difficulties of recent years. In addition, I am still able to maintain savings goals and contribute to things like college funds and retirement. Still, I don't necessarily feel like the cash is rolling in, and that I can sit back and enjoy the spoils of American capitalism.
The right attitude for life
I try to remember a few things, and this is also the advice that I would pass on to others:
1. Wealth is a mindset. There will always be things that you want to own, but sometimes the best attitude is contentment.
2. The economy is a rollercoaster. It is not worth getting too high or too low depending on the latest market news. Tomorrow, the news could be totally different.
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More from this contributor:
- Personal Finance - Career & Education
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- David Lee Roth