How to figure out what wealth means to you – and why it matters

comp of money, cars, house, holidays, pearls, designer shoes

Learning what wealth means to you could change your relationship with money (Picture: Getty Images/

It’s easy to fall into the trap of living our lives the way we think we ‘should’.

We pursue jobs that pay us more because we ‘should’ be earning a certain amount. We buy things to show that we’re doing well, rather than spending on stuff that brings us joy. We try to hit milestones by certain ages, because we’ve been taught that an accomplishment is worth less if you don’t do it young.

What if we chucked out the rulebook and redefined what our lives ‘should’ look like, based on our own meaning of success?

What if instead of chasing markers of ‘doing well’ that we don’t really care about, we pursued things that make us happy?

Money coach Sarah McCalden reckons that figuring out what ‘wealth’ means to you is a key step in doing just that.

For some people, wealth will mean a big pile of cash in the bank. For others, it’s about health, or travel, or being able to eat delicious food.

You need to figure out your own meaning of wealth, so you can have that target to work towards – rather than someone else’s idea of what life should be.

‘The Oxford Languages Dictionary says wealth is the abundance of valuable possessions or money,’ Sarah tells ‘I would say that it is much more than that – and you know it.

‘So how do you want to live your life? If you didn’t have to consider money in your life, what would a day in the life of you, look like?

‘You have created your life up to now and it is a result of the thoughts you have had, the decisions you have made and the actions you’ve taken in the past.

‘You have a clean slate from this day forward, to make new and different thoughts, decisions and actions, that can lead to a life of true wealth, not just monetarily but across all areas of your life.

‘You need to decide exactly how much money you will need to live the life of your dreams.’

That’s a big decision, we know, and the question of what wealth actually means to you can be a bit daunting.

So, how do we start to work out the answer?

illustration of man thinking about growing his money

Dream big (Picture: Getty/

Sarah recommends letting go of limitations – all those thoughts of ‘well, I can’t do that’ or ‘that’s not realistic’ – and dreaming big, without constraints.

‘Many of us get caught up in our day-to-day lives and don’t think about what we really, really want,’ she explains. ‘Or we’ve resigned ourselves to living in a certain way because of [insert limiting belief such as, I can’t make a lot of money because I’m too young/old/not smart enough].

‘This stops us from even starting to become wealthy.

‘So how can we really figure out what we really want? What is the life of your dreams? Do you feel uncomfortable when you think about this question?

‘Do consider this question now. Shake off any shame or embarrassment that you might have about being self focused or having a dream some might consider “unrealistic”.

‘These are your wants — your dreams. Remember that each and every one of us deserves to have things in our lives exactly the way we want them.’

It can help to write down exactly what you want your future to look like, or if you’re more visually inclined, try making a vision board.

For now, ‘don’t worry about the how’ of what you want, just ‘focus on the what’, says Sarah.

She adds: ‘Give yourself permission to list anything and everything you want. No one else needs to approve your dreams! This is for you.

‘You can do a warm up exercise by thinking about how much you want your ideal income to be, what you want your ideal net worth to be, eliminating all your debt and being debt-free, and how much you want for your savings and investments – and why you want these things. Why are they important to you?

‘Think about the purpose of money in your life. What is the purpose for every pound that you want to acquire?

‘If you’re not sure how what the purpose of money is in your life or your desired life, think about how much it would cost you to live the lifestyle of your dreams. Think about how much your rent or mortgage might be. Think about what you would spend on groceries and meals out, about the clothes you would buy, how much your medical care would cost, how much your car would cost, your utilities, your education, holidays, recreation, insurance, savings, investments, philanthropy and add anything else you want to this list.

‘And this is your reminder again, to give yourself permission to dream big. Don’t let any negative thoughts deter you. Just get it all out on paper. Figure out what wealth really means to you.’

Once you work this out, then you can start thinking about the ‘how’ – and making decisions that align with this dream path.

Sarah McCalden is a money mindset mentor, Canfield Success Principles Trainer and certified business coach. She runs a 30-day money challenge to help people completely overhaul their relationship with personal finance.

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