What Makes You Feel Rich?

Back in times, my mother drove a car that I swear to God the B52s wrote a song about:

Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail!
I got me a car, it seats about 20
So come on up and bring your jukebox money.

Except it was a Chevy. A Caprice, and it was a big blue whale that had weathered many a storm and had the scars to prove it. When I was 14, It mortified me. Hell, it mortifies me now. On Friday nights, I’d beg her to drop me off down the block but she’d roll right up to the ticket box at Willowbrook Theatre and deposit us right there, right in front of everybody. And then she’d honk merrily, mercilessly, vengefully as she drove off, probably cackling. In my memory she was wearing her infamous burgandy velour housecoat too, but that might be the spirit of the event rather than the facts thereof.


Back in times, back 8 years ago, we were leaving the ultrasound clinic. He was ecstatic: a girl!

He grabbed me up on the Vancouver sidewalk. “I’m going to buy you a Mercedes Benz!”

He didn’t buy me a Mercedes Benz. He bought me a shiny red BMW that we couldn’t really afford. The monthly payment was a pain, and not just an inconvenience, actual pain.

But what a pleasure that BMW was to drive. On the road, it responded to the slightest touch on brake or gas – and it answered quietly. Everything – handles, latches, knobs, twiddly bits – felt substantial, quality. Everything worked, and worked beautifully.


Back in times, pre-split, I drove a BMW. I say “drove” rather than “had” because although I thought it was mine, I was very much mistaken. He left the relationship with the red beemer and the white leather couch. I was left with two girls, no car and no job. Within two days, though, I had a great job and within two weeks, a not-so-great car but one I was very, very happy to have. A Dodge Neon. A pop can with wheels, really, but it got me from home to daycare to my new job and that was good. It was progress. It was freedom.

Driving it, though, made me feel poor. Everything rattled, knobs came off in my hand, it had no power. It was a cheap car, in price, construction and execution. The gulf – the cleavage –  between the BMW and the Neon was oceanic. And so I resented it and refused to clean it or shine it or love it although that course of action punished only me. A car is an inanimate object, after all. It has no feelings or identity – yet we project ours onto it, and it into our own.

Compared to that, driving the well-made BMW made me feel rich(ish). Not because it had a prestigious name, but because it felt like quality. Quality makes me feel rich.


Three weeks ago I sold that Neon and selling it felt like commencement. Getting it felt like necesary freedom, getting rid of it felt like luxurious liberation.


Right now, I have no car. That’s not entirely true – we have a vintage Caddy in storage in Canada – but here, in Trinidad, I’m car-less for the first time since the-loss-of -BMW time. I don’t feel poor, though. I feel lucky. Lucky to be in love, lucky to be in Trinidad, lucky to have a career that lets me follow my man around the world like a puppy with a passport.


None of this is about cars. I’m mostly disinterested in vehicles and I’m not even that interested in money. I’ve written before that cash is not my currency.

But I am interested in wealth and abundance and feeling rich so lately I’ve been paying attention to the things that make me feel that way.

Driving a good car, a well-made car, was a pleasure. I appreciated it. It didn’t make me feel rich, but in comparison to that experience, driving a crappy car sure made me feel poor. Not broke, poor.

It’s actually counterintuitive, unexpected things that make me feel rich. Being privileged enough to travel back and forth between Trinidad and Canada? Nope, doesn’t make feel rich. Transferring money into an untouchable savings account and getting my nails done: OH MY GOD, I’M KIM KARDASHIAN. Stupid rich. Abundance, thy names are “manicure” and “tax free savings”.

Rich, to me, is time, shine, and security. Savings = security. Manicures = time (truly, because once my nails are shellacked, they’re maintenance-free for at least ten days) and shine. It makes me happy to present pretty.

One more thing: rich is maintenance. Rich means once you get your goal you can invest in caring for it.

I didn’t maintain my Neon because I didn’t value it. And that’s the crux of riches, wealth, abundance: it’s about value.

Your values determine what makes you feel rich, which means there’s data in them there hills. The things that make you feel rich reveal your values.

(Not necessarily your net worth.)

So…what makes you feel rich?

And what do those things tell you about your core values?

Tellmetellmetellme. Prettyplease with manicures and savings on top of it.

About the author

Kelly Diels I'm Kelly Diels. I'm a writer. I've written for Salon, Jezebel, XO Jane, Problogger, Write to Done and more. I'm currently working on a book about The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand. Interested? Please subscribe to my newsletter and I'll share more thoughts and chapters with you as I write them. You can also find me on Facebook and yes please, please do.