3 Ways to Grow Wealth & Be Happy

Goooooooood morning Budgets Are Sexy fam! I hope you’re in the mood for some motivation/self-reflection today, ‘cuz I’ve got a handful of financial nuggets for you to marinate on while you go about your business this weekend (and hopefully beyond).

Think of this as an extension of last week’s reminder about money, if you will. Something that’s always good to keep in the back of our minds :)

We’ll start with a video that was passed my way by some lovely soul who, for the life of me I can’t recollect, but now days later am very grateful to. I’ve started a new habit of watching TED talks every night before settling in to bed (kinda a neat way to drift off!), so I turned this bad boy on the other night and have been thinking about it ever since.

Here it is if you want to check it out yourself at some point – “Flipping Rich,” by John Thornton:

It’s a little corny at times, but beats out most other things you’d be doing in your free 15 mins of time anyways ;) And the history of his family’s Christmas tree business (yup – I said Christmas trees!) is pretty interesting to hear about too.

But the meat and potatoes of it all?

That wealth is not about luck, but rather it’s learned. And that anyone can achieve it so long as they have their “why” down, else the “how” doesn’t even matter.

John gets into it all in the talk, but I pulled out my favorite part where he talks about the 3 ways to grow your wealth based on King Solomon’s teachings over 3,000 years ago “that cuts across all cultures, political systems [and] economic systems.”

Here they are:

  1. Do something. Take action. If not, “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come upon you like a bandit. Scarcity, liked an armed man.”
  2. Do something right. Don’t fool yourself! “The person who follows the right path, is like the first gleam of dawn shining ever brighter as the day comes.”
  3. Be generous. “When I have a generous heart, I see the people around me who have less. And when I see the people around me who have less, I realize I have enough to share – but it also makes me thankful. It makes me content. But when I have a stingy spirit, I see all those people around me who have more than me. Quite frankly even the most richest person in the world still doesn’t own most of it. It’s a never ending trap.”

He also mentions a book by Gregg Easterbrook that I now want to pick up and read myself – The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse – which he quotes the following:

“Despite the fact that per capita income, adjusted for inflation, had more than doubled from 1960 to 2000, there was a marked uptick in people’s unhappiness.”

How true this is right? We now live better than even John D. Rockefeller and yet we still struggle with being content with all our blessings. Myself very much included (though reading/watching all of this stuff is certainly helping!).

So that’s the real takeaway today: Be as thankful as you can no matter what stage you’re in right now, continue *taking action* and making sure you’re focusing on the RIGHT stuff and not just the stuff that keeps you busy and feeling fake good, and then be as generous with your time and money as allows. John mentions in the video that the math on that part never quite adds up (how can you give money away, yet always end up with more?) but it’s a magic worth believing in, and you rarely hear of anyone being worse off because of it ;)

I’ll leave you with one last gem that’ll put things in perspective even more… If there’s only one thing you watch today, please make this 1-minute video it: “Be Grateful For What You Got

Happy Friday everyone!

Hat tip to Derek for finding that last video!

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  1. Brian @DebtDiscipline March 11, 2016 at 6:05 AM

    A nice reminder! The “Be Grateful For What You Got” video pretty much sums it up. There is always someone if a worse situation than you. Be thankful each and everyday.

  2. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar March 11, 2016 at 6:16 AM

    When you have your why, it’s a lot harder to rationalize the little poor decisions that add up!

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 6:48 AM

      Indeed! And sometimes it takes a while to find your “why” too at times.

  3. Thias @It Pays Dividends March 11, 2016 at 6:56 AM

    Great message! I find myself often falling into the woe is me mindset when this get tough. A solid reminder that I am incredibly lucky to just be able to experience life is a great way to bring me back to the present. I will be watching this TED talk this weekend!

  4. Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog March 11, 2016 at 7:03 AM

    That video at the end is so powerful. I was wondering what would come after the guy at the bus stop. The fact that I couldn’t imagine what would come next makes me realize that I have so much to be grateful for.

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 7:10 AM

      Right?? It’s interesting to notice where you end up relating more too throughout the different phases, and where that turning point is of “Oh man, I’m so lucky!” Esp. there at the end (didn’t see that one coming either!).

  5. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor March 11, 2016 at 7:15 AM

    Great message! It’s easy to feel competitive rather than content when it comes to money and success. Of course there is a place for improving, but doing so out of a place of contentment will be much more healthy and empowered. I’m a big believer that generosity is an important part of building wealth. I think it helps you gain the right motivation, as well as helping others.

  6. Lindsay @ the Notorious D.E.B.T. March 11, 2016 at 7:21 AM

    I’ve been sort of down on my luck in life for the past year or so. It’s been hard to reconcile, but at the same time there’s a lot of things I take for granted – I live in a warm apartment, I have a job (even if it’s a horrible one), I have a wonderful husband (even if he’s smelly sometimes), etc…

    I started writing a gratitude journal several months ago. I try to write in it every day, but admittedly I’m not perfect. It’s been tremendously helpful in changing my mindset. In the journal, I try to write one thing I’m grateful for that day, and one thing I did really well. But because I also believe in balance, I also write something I’m NOT grateful for, and something I could have done better at.

    Perhaps I’ve missed the point of the gratitude journal. Regardless, it’s very helpful. :)

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 12:20 PM

      haha… I always love reading your comments – always so entertaining!

  7. Latoya @ Femme Frugality March 11, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    These are awesome financial nuggets, ones that we don’t always think about, but we should. I see a lot of people that are inactive and stingy at the same time and I know it’s not a coincidence. To get somewhere you always have to be moving forward with your plans and never giving in to inaction. Thanks for sharing this…

  8. AMW March 11, 2016 at 8:44 AM

    This made my morning. I love his point about stinginess. His quote “Most people do not want to become a millionare, they just want to be one.” is powerful and it is going up on my wall in my office and my workspace! Thanks for sharing!

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 12:22 PM

      YES!! Totally forgot to add that into the article today as I found it to be super brilliant (and true!) too. Good catch :)

  9. Ann March 11, 2016 at 8:51 AM

    I read through the John D. Rockefeller, and it made me think. My grandpa was born in the early 1930s. I was talking to my grandma one time about something, and she told me something to the effect of, “People like to joke about being born in a barn (when someone leaves the door open). He was actually born in a barn (my grandpa).” I thought that was interesting. My grandparents were from poor backgrounds. My grandpa didn’t even have an outhouse–apparently, they used the barn and tossed hay over anything. They didn’t have indoor plumbing until 1954. No toilet paper–it was a Sears catalog or corn cobs (believe it or not). My grandma’s mother made her underwear out of gunny sacks used for flour. People like to think that we’re so modern, but not all that long ago, it was a lot different than what we know today.

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 2:24 PM

      WOWWWWWW! Incredible!! And people still think WE have it bad with all our electricity and water and warmth/etc/etc/etc…. We wouldn’t last a week in their shoes :) (which I’m sure they didn’t even have!)

  10. Financial Nirvana Mama March 11, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    My why has evolved with time. Took years to figure it out and still evolving. The biggest reasons for change in ‘why’ : starting a family, grateffulness for what I have, and donating more time and money to charity. This has lead to more happiness.

    I agree that knowing a bit of your why instigates action…for some people. I would add mindset is another key that you shape your life, not letting others decide on your life.

  11. Lisa O March 11, 2016 at 9:02 AM

    Inspiration Friday with a great take home message!

  12. LeDividende.com March 11, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    Thanks for sharing these videos.

  13. Abigail @ipickuppennies March 11, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    Given how stressful our lives are, I have to consciously remind myself to stop and remember all the good stuff we have going. It seems like we’re constantly putting out fires, but we are actually putting something into savings each month, however small. That’s a helluva lot better than a lot of people can manage for whatever reason.

    I’m not sure I agree that success isn’t about luck/that anyone can do it, but it’s Friday so I’ll not pick it apart here. :)

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 2:26 PM


      You know what you should try if you haven’t already? Making a journal of all the stuff you accomplish/win at each day :) Just read an article about how much it helps put things in better perspective and that you can always usually write down at least one thing each day in it… and then at the end of the week read em to make you feel better. Esp on those $hitty days :(

  14. Tiffany @ Divvy Investments March 11, 2016 at 11:05 AM

    Such a great message J! I had a wake up call the other week when I was showing a property to a client… it was a group home and since I arrived early, I ended up chatting with one of the residents — about life, employment (the minimum wage increase specifically), love (“everybody needs some cuddling every now and then!”) — an amazing amount of topics in 15 brief minutes.

    Anyway, it kind of gave me a kick in the ribs of: “you have it so good and 90% of the time you just take it for granted.”

    The drive for success can be all consuming. You gotta stop and smell the roses every once in a while!

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 2:27 PM

      Truth! Those random moments are always so badly needed too… I wish we could trick ourselves into having one every day somehow?

      1. Tiffany @ Divvy Investments March 11, 2016 at 8:52 PM

        Don’t worry… those moments have a way of finding you when you least expect them ;)

  15. Brad B. March 11, 2016 at 12:13 PM

    Nice video, thank you for posting it.

  16. Chris @ KeepThrifty March 11, 2016 at 1:06 PM

    Awesome reminders!

    His comment on investing $2k each of your first 7 years out of employment vs none the first 7 and $2k each year after that is interesting. I totally agree in spirit (I gave a presentation in college on the power of investing earlier) but I think he’s shooting high on his historic returns. By my math, he’s going with a stock market return of 12% which seems a bit high :)

    I think this is a bit more realistic (using 8%):
    If you start investing at age 23 and put $2k a year aside, you’ll end up with $608,000 when you reach age 65. If you start investing at age 22 (just ONE year earlier) and put $2k a year aside, you’ll end up with $659,000 when you reach age 65.

    So, with just one extra year of investing, you end up with an extra $51,000 when you retire. Even just one year can make a HUGE difference :)

    1. J. Money March 11, 2016 at 2:28 PM

      Damn straight :) (And I agree on 8% for better long-term averages)

    2. The Professor March 11, 2016 at 9:06 PM

      I agree with you Chris about the 8% being more realistic. Perhaps he’s following another financial pundit, (who I’ll refrain from naming), that claims the stock market has had returns of 12% average over the last 80 years if you invested in the S&P. What he failed to note was the actual return.
      For example say you invested $5k and it went up 100% in one year. The next year it dropped 50%. You would still have a total of $5,000 after two years but one could claim the average return in this case was 25%. (50%/2). Numbers can be manipulated.

      1. J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:46 PM

        Does it rhyme with Wave Bamsey? :)

  17. Chris @ KeepThrifty March 11, 2016 at 3:16 PM

    A thought here too on the power of generosity – I thought that was such a cool point to emphasize that generosity helps you be thankful and content and that thankfulness and contentedness are such strong contributors to happiness.

    We’ve long given 10% of our income to charity and our goal is to grow that as we continue on our financial journey. It seems like something you don’t hear as much about in the financial blogging community – really appreciate you taking the time to highlight it here!

  18. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank March 11, 2016 at 6:07 PM

    Action will really get those financial goals into reality, J Money.

  19. Tyler March 11, 2016 at 7:59 PM

    We all have the ability to be happy we just need to decided what makes us happy and what we can do to get that. If we strive for money and think the rest will care for itself then we are doing it backwards

  20. Linda March 11, 2016 at 10:37 PM

    I really like watching TED talks. I always learn something. However, I usually watch them on Netflix and I just found out that they are removing a TON of them like next week! Sad day. :(

    1. J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:47 PM

      I didn’t even know they were on there? I just go to Ted.com :)

  21. Stephen March 11, 2016 at 11:32 PM

    That “Be grateful for what you have” video is great. Really puts your luck or circumstances into perspective.

  22. Downunder Sugarglider March 12, 2016 at 1:24 AM

    wow! He nails the secrets to life in 15 mins. Thanks for this great post. I’m sharing this with the kids. AND I am getting off the couch now to go do productive work – ha ha ha EEK!

    1. J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      Haha… love to hear it :)

  23. Lady FruFru March 12, 2016 at 6:58 AM

    “Be generous” is something I think we could all use a little reminder of. This is not just with money and charitable giving, but also with time and advice. The best boss I’ve ever had has been so generous with her advice. She has gotten so far in her career shares bits of wisdom, and she has generously passed some of these tidbits to me. I try to pay it forward by helping my direct reports and mentors.

    Karma is not about luck. It’s about cause and effect–the actions that you put out there, being the cause. Great article, as ever.

  24. Dr. Beard March 12, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    I love that little “Bright Side” cartoon. One thing has really opened my eyes here recently: the math that says I can retire in 10 years based only on my current salary. A salary that is just stupid high when I compare it to the national average and what I actually do to earn it. Now, I don’t have to care that someone else makes more, because I have too much already.

    I don’t need to work as hard on stuff I hate so that I can one day get promoted to administration to do a job I will definitely hate, just to have more money that I don’t need. My family has been spending very little money here recently, and it’s enriched our lives, rather than feeling like we’ve been depriving ourselves. And since I’ve let go of asinine work that I wasn’t enjoying, new opportunities have popped up that I DO enjoy and that earn more. Interesting how that works.

    1. J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:52 PM

      Indeed, my man, and even more fun with a killer beard :)

  25. Financial Samurai March 12, 2016 at 11:09 AM

    Nice job J and Derek for the last video! Totally true and to the point.

    Comparison is the thief of joy.

    Have a great weekend guys!

    1. J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:53 PM

      You too, bud :)

  26. Chris @ MindfulExplorer March 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM

    J buddy , this one was a terrific post and I look at it not from a money perspective. The timing was good and the “generous” part I interpreted differently. Be generous with all that I have to offer to make my community a better place. Thanks for inspiring my blog post I just published and capping off a thought I had in my mind yesterday.

    Have a great weekend brother

    1. J. Money March 12, 2016 at 2:53 PM

      Glad to hear, man!

  27. Tyler @ Oddball Wealth March 13, 2016 at 1:44 AM

    I liked the example you used with John D. Rockefeller, it really puts things into perspective, because it’s strange to think about how he was one of the wealthiest people in the world, but all of us in modern society now live better lifestyles than he did.

    This is a great post to remind all of us to be happy with what we have. Great article!

    1. J. Money March 21, 2016 at 11:50 AM

      Yeah man – that Rockefeller thing is CRAZY to think about… but so true!

  28. Mrs. Simply Financially Free March 20, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    Great reminders! I have actually been struggling the past week after coming back from vacation. Instead of being well rested I kept focusing on what I didn’t have (endless time and money to ski all the time) as I heading back to the real world and how much the rat race sucks. I even had a conversation with my husband about how I really should be grateful for all that we do have because we are really fortunate to be where we are in our lives, including a great vacation we just had.

    1. J. Money March 21, 2016 at 11:49 AM

      Glad you’re seeing this now when you need it most :)

      I always feel like we need a vacation after our vacations! haha…

  29. Roy Largo @ Band of Savers March 23, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    I still don’t understand the whole generocity paradox but paying a full tithe all my life has consistantly been the best financial decision that I have ever made. But, as my wife is quick to point out, generocity outside of giving back 10% of all of my income is next to impossible tfor me to find motivation to do.

    1. J. Money March 23, 2016 at 2:13 PM

      I admire the hell out of you though for sticking to it! I’ve tried here and there and always go back to nothing :( At least financially. I probably spend 5 hours every day helping people with their money in email or on this blog/etc, but have to constantly remind myself to look for people/orgs to help give actual money to too. I think I need to automate it and start small to get the habit down and then gradually move the needle upwards… I did have a good strand last year of doing back-to-back-to-back donations to small places I loved, so we’re getting there! Felt super proud about that and felt like I magically grew my projects – and joy for that matter – a lot too in doing so. Maybe that’s the power behind it all? Makes you feel better which in turns makes you more productive or just feeling like everything is better whether they are or not? Who knows… but in either case, you inspire me w/ the tithing :)