Broker Check

The True Meaning of Wealth

| May 16, 2018
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My love of language grows the more I learn. I am currently studying Italian, and when I was younger I learned to speak German. I have so much fun learning new words that add subtleties to meaning or shed light on the origin of an English word. Recently I learned that the Italians have two words for “expensive”: costoso and caro. The differences between these two words highlight the different ways we assign value to the people and things in our lives. They remind me that the true meaning of wealth runs much deeper than a price tag.

“A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Emotional Value Vs. Market Value

Costoso is easy to recognize as meaning “expensive” or “costly,” but caro has an additional meaning and use. To say that someone or something is caro could mean that it is “dear.” For example, caro mio would translate as “my dear.” A dear friend or memory is very different than something that is just expensive. (The English word caress has its origins in caro.)

Something that is dear to you could be worthless to anyone else but priceless to you. I have a radio that was my mom’s from when she was in high school. It sat on our kitchen counter when I was a kid, playing music while we prepared meals, decorated cookies, and were just together as a family. I have no idea if it is “worth” anything. When I took the radio from my mom's house after she'd passed away, I never even plugged it in to see if it worked. She was the last one to listen to it, and that is enough. The sight of it brings back a flood of childhood memories, and to me that is caro. To me that is dear.

I've tried to decorate my home with things like this. Things I've made, things my kids have made, art work I purchased from friends or at local art fairs from artists I've come to know and appreciate. Things that are meaningful to me or tell me a story. I have a Picasso print of Don Quixote (that I purchased at a 2nd hand store for $10) hanging by my front door to remind me of the adventure of life and the falseness in most of what we worry about. 

What Is the True Meaning of Wealth?

Words are the symbols we use to describe our thoughts. This rings very strongly with me in my mission with Integral Wealth. Your true “wealth” is not just numbers on a balance sheet, but rather the sum of the life you make, the experiences you have, the love you share, and the people you help along the way. This is what I define as your Integral Wealth. To be and feel wealthy, you must have some balance of money, health, happiness, and whatever else you may add to your list of “riches.”

Building Your Own Integral Wealth

When setting your own goals and plans for the future, consider filling your life with people and things that are dear to you, rather than expensive things that are just that. Things can make a huge difference in your happiness and satisfaction with life, as well as your ability to define and realize your own true meaning of wealth. Simply being conscious of how you spend—and why—can go a long way in helping you build the life you want.

Ask yourself:

  • Why do I want that?
  • What am I really seeking?
  • What changes could I make in my spending?
  • What has more value to me: experiences or things?

For more insights on this topic, check out my previous blog posts:

Have questions? If you'd like to discuss the true meaning of wealth, or if you need help adjusting your expenses, feel free to reach out! Email

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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