Self-made millionaire Tony Robbins: Here’s what it means to be rich

Everyone has their own definition of what it means to be rich. For some, it’s earning a certain amount. To others, it’s a mindset. For best-selling author and self-made millionaire Tony Robbins, it’s the latter.

“Abundance is a mindset, not a dollar amount,” Robbins tells Reuters.

To feel rich, he says, you have to “cultivate gratitude for the things you have now.” If you do that, “everything that is added will feel like a bonus.”

Robbins wasn’t born wealthy and he had to learn the value of money the hard way. “Growing up, my family was totally broke,” he says. “There were always fights over money, which produced a tremendous drive in me to be able to provide for my own family.”

Robbins wasn’t motivated to be rich, per se, but to change his circumstances. “One day, I said, this is it: I am going to earn enough money so I can not only do what I want, but take care of anyone I want to — whether it’s family or friends,” he tells Grow. “When you commit to someone else, you can’t walk away.”

Today, Robbins is the author of multiple best-selling books and life coach to clients such as former President Bill Clinton and hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones.

For the average person, one simple question can help you determine if you’re “wealthy” or not: If you lost your job tomorrow, how long could you survive? That’s according to Derek Sall, a personal finance blogger and financial analyst who paid off $116,000 in seven years. Sall says it’s not about how much money you bring in each month that matters but how much you’re able to save.

It’s easy to judge wealth as a function of what you own but Sall argues that material possessions say nothing about the real state of your finances. “Heck, you could drive a $40,000 BMW and live in a $500,000 home, but if you’re $600,000 in debt, then you’re actually worth less than a 7-year-old child,” he writes.

To answer his own question, Sall developed a scale for quantifying wealth. Here’s how well off you are depending on how long you could last without a source of income:

  • Less than a month: Broke
  • One-to-three months: Teetering
  • Three-to-six months: Satisfactory
  • Six months to two years: Well-off
  • Two-to-five years: Wealthy
  • Five or more years: Ultra-wealthy

This definition of wealth is one of the key takeaways from Robert Kiyosaki’s personal finance classic “Rich Dad Poor Dad” as well.

The author grew up with two father figures: “poor dad,” his real father who died with bills to pay, and “rich dad,” who started with little before becoming a wealthy man. Both fathers were successful in their careers and earned substantial incomes, but one always struggled financially.

In observing them, Kiyosaki realized that earning a lot doesn’t necessarily make you rich. “It’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you keep,” he writes. The rich not only save their money,they put it to work.

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