Signs You Are Richer Than You Think

Default Profile ImageBen O'Connell
Signs You Are Richer Than You Think

According to Statistics New Zealand, in the year to the June 2023 quarter, the median weekly income from all sources went up by $73 (8.6 per cent) to $921. Median hourly earnings from wages and salaries increased by $1.95, to 6.6 per cent, moving to $31.61.

From wages and salaries, it increased by $84 (7.1 per cent) to $1,273; from government transfers, the median weekly income grew by $30 (7.5 per cent) to $432; and for the self-employed, there was no change, remaining at $767.

For men, median weekly earnings increased by $80 (6.1 per cent) to $1,400. For women, median weekly earnings grew by $85 (8.1 percent) to $1,140. In the June 2023 quarter, the gender pay gap was 8.6 per cent.

But beyond those statistics, Kiwis are redefining what it means to be wealthy. Education, relationships, assets, skills, the list goes on. It can feel trivial to read that there’s wealth in these things, though. 

This article reflects on ways you might be richer than you think, including those non-financial factors but also citing some involving money. There are many ways we can sometimes tell ourselves we’re not as wealthy as reality, but the time to be frank about our earnings is long overdue.

Are You Wealthier Than You Think?

Breaking it all down by age, for teenagers, assets have often come from gifts or small jobs. Salaries are typically less than $20,000 each year. For example, working ten hours a week while still at school could earn teens a reasonable sum, primarily if they work over the summer.

In time, with qualifications and degrees, perhaps entry-level positions come in the mid-20s. In New Zealand, private companies will pay more than public companies, but most entry-level roles pay about $40,000 to $50,000 annually.

With age, we develop experience and skills – other signs of wealth we will get to later – moving between companies and negotiating higher pay. This typically equates to pay of around $50,000 to $80,000 per year. And these continue with age, as responsibilities deepen and market value rises. 

By age 50, salaries grow to over $100,000 annually. As we approach retirement, Kiwis typically experience decreasing salaries, with averages of around $80,000 annually.

But these are all just guidelines! Life is a rollercoaster, and we cannot entirely assume your earning potential. It all depends on your unique circumstances and way of life.

Looking Deeper

It’s important to define wealth on your terms. It’s not just about the number in your bank account. Wealth is critical to determining what matters most to you –early retirement, working fewer hours each week, or travelling the world, to name a few. 

What wealth means to you will change because change is one of the only constants in life. Assessing if you’re on the right track will help you achieve your goals and look inward personally, aiding you in living the life your soul and mind want to lead.

Feeling that your life has meaning—enjoying your work, being able to contribute to causes you care about, and having time for activities you enjoy—is a profound indicator of true wealth. Fulfilment in life counts as much as, if not more than, the size of your paycheck​.

Paycheck to Paycheck

Most of us have been there: worried about the budget each week, ecstatic when the next payslip comes in. And for those still there, it can be a slap in the face to be told that there’s wealth in other places. 

Moving past living paycheck to paycheck and having a cushion to fall back on means you’ve achieved financial stability and wealth that allows for a more comfortable and less stressful life.

And then from there, building an emergency fund for rainy days is a key nest egg that instils optimism, eliminates stress, and creates a sense of security. 

From there, a tell-tale sign of wealth is an increasing net worth. It signifies that you’re saving more each year and your investments are growing, showing you’re moving in the right direction towards accumulating wealth.

Living below your means is another central tenet of responsible money management. No matter how much you earn, you’re on the right track if you can spend less than that. 

Financial Goals Are Within Reach

Not being weighed down by high-interest debt, like credit card debt, is a significant indicator of financial health. Managing low-interest debt responsibly without stressing your cash flow also points towards being wealthier than you think​.

At work, having a job with benefits, such as health insurance and retirement account contributions, significantly adds to your wealth. These benefits reduce out-of-pocket expenses and contribute to your financial security​.

Having something to look forward to is also a good sign of wealth. If you can invest, if you have a vacation within reach, if you have the capacity to put money into hobbies knowing you won’t make that money back, then you should pat yourself on the back!

Student loans are another major setback for Kiwis, so being close to paying them off also signals financial stability. Effective management of student loans is crucial. This includes understanding the types of student loans available, how to apply, and the repayment obligations. It’s important to engage in budgeting and financial planning to ensure you can cover your loan repayments along with your other expenses​​.

If you can eventually go out there, splurge, and pay for the things you really want, you’re also on a great path. In turn, knowing you’ll be able to retire as planned, that everyone in your life you like and need to care for, and simply feeling at peace with your financial situation: how much better can it get? You are certainly more affluent than you think in that case.

Know that your financial goals are there for a reason. Don’t stray even if they feel impossible. Just because something will take you, say, ten years to achieve, that doesn’t make it any less valuable of a goal, either! Don’t you plan to be alive in a decade, anyway? 

Viewing money as an ally and having a healthy mindset with money is another beautiful sign of wealth. You’re ahead of the game if you aren’t scared of money. It’s a tool to achieve what you want in life! It’s also not the be-all and end-all.

Non-Monetary Assets That Indicate Wealth

Non-Monetary Assets That Indicate Wealth

The true luxury in today’s fast-paced world in time. Leisure for pursuing passions, hobbies, and meaningful relationships speaks volumes about your ability to navigate life’s demands. Freedom from constant hustle signifies a wealth of self-awareness and intentional living.

Skills and Education

A sharp mind and diverse skills are powerful tools. Lifelong learning, mastering new things, and continuous growth contribute to personal evolution and adaptability. This intrinsic wealth equips you to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and contribute meaningfully to the world.

The Wealth Found in Good Health

A sound mind and body are priceless assets. Access to quality healthcare, healthy habits, and a fulfilling lifestyle contribute to physical and mental well-being. Vibrant health empowers you to experience life fully and unlocks potential beyond monetary value.

Strong Relationships and Network

Richness also comes from the quality of your relationships. A strong social network, filled with enriching interactions and support, can offer a sense of wealth beyond financial measures. Networking with successful people can lead to lucrative opportunities​.

Engaging in your community, volunteering, and contributing to causes you believe in demonstrate a wealth of empathy and social responsibility. Such actions ripple outwards, creating a more connected and just world while enriching your sense of purpose.

New Zealand’s Global Rank

New Zealand ranks fifth globally according to the 2022 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, with an average wealth of US$521,600 per adult. This suggests the average New Zealander holds more wealth than their counterparts in most countries.

However, this rank shifts when considering median wealth, which reflects the wealth of the “middle class.” Here, New Zealand falls somewhere between third and tenth, depending on the source, indicating less inequality compared to some wealthier nations.

When adjusted for differences in cost of living, New Zealand ranks around 31st in terms of wealth per capita. This indicates a high standard of living despite being behind some smaller, resource-rich economies.

New Zealand boasts the fifth highest Economic Freedom score per the Heritage Foundation, implying a stable and open economy conducive to wealth creation.

Estimating global average income is complex due to economic disparities. The World Bank estimated an average gross national income (GNI) per capita of US$12,736 in 2020, but this varies significantly across countries.

Based on GNI per capita, New Zealanders earn roughly four times the global average, placing them among the richest 10% of the world’s population.

New Zealanders are generally considered wealthy on a global scale, both in terms of average and median wealth. 

However, the ranking fluctuates depending on the measuring metrics, and disparities within the country exist. 

While New Zealanders earn significantly more than the global average, it’s important to remember that wealth distribution and quality of life are complex issues beyond simple comparisons.