What is Wealth?
In the business world, wealth is a measure of financial resources.
How Does Wealth Work?
Wealth is usually a measure of net worth; that is, it is a measure of how much a person has in savings, investments, real estate and cash, less any debts. For example, let's say John Doe has a $700,000 house, a car worth $20,000, a medical practice worth $400,000, and $5,000 in a checking account. Added together, these assets may be worth a whopping $1,125,000, but if John Doe is $300,000 in debt from medical school and owes $650,000 on the house, $15,000 on credit cards and $15,000 on the car, his net worth (the assets minus these liabilities) falls to about $145,000. In other words, if he were to sell everything today and pay off all his debts, he would have only $145,000 that would truly be all his.
Why Does Wealth Matter?
Income is routinely mistaken for wealth. For example, if John Doe's income is $250,000 per year, some people might say John is "wealthy." However, if John's mortgage, car payments, student loans from medical school, medical bills for his child, and private school tuition for his other child consume most of his monthly income, he may not have much left for saving at the end of the month. Consequently, John may have a nice house, but he has virtually nothing saved up for retirement, college, or emergencies. That is, he may have a high income, but he is not "wealthy" because he owns little of the things in his life.