Helen Weiss, my very wise 90-year-old mother-in-law, says it best: “If you want to work then work. But if you want to build a life to do the work you want to do, then build wealth.”

As strategy, building wealth to support the pursuit of meaningful work can feel like a daunting process. Thirty years ago, a worker had a good shot at building wealth on the job. But in the ensuring years, and according to Pew Research, earning power has flatlined; wage and salary gains haven’t scaled, fewer companies share their profits with employees through profit-sharing plans or through matched contributions to 401k plans, and, most in the workforce pay more out-of-pocket for their share of company-sponsored health coverage.

And according to Student Loan Hero’s latest findings, a record number of American workers now carry unsustainably high levels of student loan debt, thus, the path to their on-the-job financial success is more tenuous than ever.

Absent from many of today’s work-success narratives is the need for each of us to build wealth, to provide us the freedom to do the meaningful work of our dreams. And let’s dig into that: building wealth does not mean giving up our altruistic goals—like protecting the planet and helping people—to become a brazen capitalist, although there is nothing wrong with becoming wealthy. Building wealth should mean following a strategy to carefully invest a portion of your work income so that, at some future point, you may draw on your hard-earned capital to offset the more-modest income you may earn doing meaningful work.

Here are 5 things that you can do to build wealth to support doing meaningful work in the future:

  1. Invest a portion of each paycheck. If you can afford it, set aside $100 per pay period in an instrument such as a top-performing S&P 500 Index Fund—that is what Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffet says every early investor should do.
  2. As time progresses and your capital increases, diversify your portfolio to include more aggressive investment strategies.
  3. Reinvest the dividends you earn into the purchase of more equity—stock or mutual fund shares. This is an easy way to help build out your assets.
  4. Conserve your spending. Live within your means, or better yet, BELOW your means. Treat yourself to dinner out, occasionally, but don’t make too much extravagance a staple of your existence.
  5. Rebalance your investment strategy to course-correct for economic changes, or your own express needs.

Last, let’s disabuse ourselves of the notion, which many of today’s social cause activists tout, that wealth-building goes against noble purpose and doing meaningful work. Done right, done wisely, it can and will become your instrument for doing meaningful work—and getting you to the place of doing such work, faster.

Sound strategy, indeed.

IMPORTANT: Before pursuing any strategy, always consult with a certified public accountant, tax preparer, or other registered professional, to ensure that your investments are both sound and appropriate for your requirements.

Image Credits: Strategize and Nest Eggs, iStock Photo.