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What Does Wealthy Mean To You? - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

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What Does Wealthy Mean To You? - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder

Yes, the title sounds like it has nothing to do with fitness. I swear I’ll get to that…

As a young immigrant, my parents and I had an American vision of success that included conventional displays of wealth: fancy clothes, cars, house, etc. I think many Americans are the same. Others have different opinions of wealth that aren’t so flattering… greed, taking advantage of people, etc. Both of these ideas certainly have their flaws.

The inspiration for today’s subject came from a Facebook post from Anthony ONeal, a radio personality and best-selling author in the world of finance. His six-word quandary was the same six words I used for the title of this post. Like most Facebook posts, the comments ranged from very thoughtful, to funny, to shameful, with all points in between. They did, however, get my brain juices flowing to think of what my answer would be.

As a self-described go-getter, my early life was spent chasing dreams. Some of them were accomplished, others not. In the process of falling down and having to get back up again, my opinions of what it meant to be ‘wealthy’ have evolved greatly.

There are two parts I’d like to share today…

Part 1: Wealth = Time… NOT Money

If you woke up tomorrow morning and no longer had the ability to generate an income, how long could you maintain your current lifestyle? When the answer is ‘forever’, you are wealthy.

This can mean a lot of different things: If a guy makes one million dollars per year, but lives so lavishly that he still lives paycheck-to-paycheck due to his massive mortgage, lease payments on his new fancy car, and other lifestyle excesses, he is not wealthy. (Financial advisors will tell you that not only do these people exist, there are TONS of them). If he gets laid off and can’t find another job with that salary, he will be in trouble quickly. 

Conversely: Let’s take an example of a grocery clerk checking you out of the store every week. She’s been working there for years and has contributed the maximum amount to her retirement plan. Her house is paid off and she lives walking distance to her job. She has a modest car that has been long paid off. Despite her modest salary, through years of dedicated saving and investing, her retirement account now has a large enough balance to where she can comfortably pay all of her personal expenses using only the interest; never having to touch the actual balance.

In the two above examples, most would agree that the woman at the grocery store is wealthy… and Mr. High-income-no-money is not. In Texas they would call him, “Big hat, no cattle.” When these two people enter a room, you would never guess this to be the case… the guy is wearing the nicest clothes, fancy watch, etc. while the woman looks like, well, pretty much any other woman.

When the gap between income and spending is high (you make way more than you spend), the more margin there is in life. When something bad happens (like, I don’t know, say… your business being closed down for half a year because of a government-mandated lockdown and global pandemic), there is more wiggle room to escape a bad situation and still survive.  

I spent my youth emulating the first guy. Today, my goal is to emulate the grocery clerk.

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Part 2: Health = Wealth

Moving back into my lane, let’s look at another situation: Over the course of my career, I’ve met people who work their tails off to amass large amounts of wealth… all while letting their bodies slowly deteriorate over that same amount of time.

There was a woman that I worked with VERY briefly a number of years ago, who managed to accumulate enough money to retire in her early fifties. Although she was clearly well-to-do, and attained financial freedom at a young age, her body stifled many of her post-retirement goals. Biologically speaking, she was more like an 80-year-old.

Deep in her heart, she knew she had to make some changes, but wasn’t fully on board to do so. Her fitness program prior to meeting me was reformer Pilates. For those unfamiliar, it’s basically a machine that you lay on that moves you around for you, so you don’t have to (very biased personal opinion. Sorry not sorry). She was so used to having ‘people’ who did things for her, that she believed that she could outsource her fitness regimen the same way.

She was in for a rude awakening in our first session…

One of the first things we assess with older adults is the ability to easily get down and up from the floor. During our session, I asked her to demonstrate this. Her response was, “I don’t get on the ground.” I asked, “Ok. So… what would happen if you took a fall and had trouble getting back up?” She replied, “Oh, I would just get my phone out and call 911.” I thought to myself, “A woman in her early fifties would just lay there and wait for help to show up?”

I reached into my pocket and handed her check back to her. I was nice about it and wished her well, but at that point we both knew she accidentally stumbled into the wrong place.

Although this was an egregious case, there are many people who choose to not put their personal health as a top priority. A twenty-year-old, a thirty-year-old, and sometimes even a forty-year-old can get away with this. However, at some point they discover it’s just not a sustainable long-term plan. Similar to the youngsters who choose not to invest for their future, at some point they realize how much harder it is to retire when you start your first IRA at 55.

What good is it to bust your hump 80 hours a week for 30 years, only to retire and have a body that can’t enjoy any of the fruits of that labor?

This can also easily work the other way around. Let’s take the fitness fanatic that has two modes of exercise: Hard and harder. Sure, it’s fine to challenge yourself once in a while, but decades of abusing one’s body can have similar long-term effects to the person ignoring their health.

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So, what do you think? How do you define ‘wealth’? I look forward to hearing your thoughts…

Until next time, 

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Marie. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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