Many of us were raised with solid work ethics. How could we not with endless stories like your parents walking to school uphill both ways in the snow?

This work ethic translated to our school work and our careers.

We did well in high school, studied hard for our SATs, got into our university of choice, got those nice Magna Cum Laude ribbons around our gowns at graduation, and many of us even went on to grad school and became successful doctors, lawyers, and CEOs.

Some reached the pinnacle of their careers and became department heads, partners and CEOs.

We had finally arrived – big house, new cars, private schools for our kids, private club memberships, multiple vacations, and so on. We were living the American Dream, but something was missing, something many high earners are missing – freedom.

What would it fell like to have the freedom to take off on vacation when you wanted and to attend every event for your child or grandchild?

And to have the freedom to spend more time with your children during the workday, the freedom from the constant work-related notifications on your phone, the freedom to contribute to worthy causes?

The problem with achieving the type of wealth that would grant us the type of complete freedom we all crave is that many of us buy into the belief that unless we work our fingers to the bone, we’ll never be truly successful.

We buy into the myth that income equals wealth.

That’s why we’re the first one into work and the last one out. We equate a high salary and recognition with wealth. What we’re missing is freedom.

The truth is, a high income may make you feel rich, but it does not make you wealthy. The truly wealthy have achieved true financial freedom – time freedom.

Their money works for them instead of the other way around. Trading time for money, no matter how high your salary, will always be limited to the hours in the day and be limited to your ability to work.

What happens to the surgeon who injures his hands in an accident or the lawyer who loses his sight? It’s game over.

Just because you have a big house and fancy cars doesn’t make you wealthy. You only appear wealthy.

The wealthy have something more valuable than a big house or fancy cars – they have time. While wage earners trade time for money, the wealthy have cashed in their money for time.

True wealth is having assets that generate income beyond your needs. It’s having your money work for you while you sleep. It’s not a big paycheck that barely pays the bills.

Unless you take some of those big paychecks and set aside some capital for passive investments, you’ll always be trading time for money.

Alternative investments that generate passive income – especially ones backed by tangible assets – offer multiple financial benefits that accelerate the wealth-building process – the type that will last generations.

Passive income not only allows for compounding but because it’s taxed at lower rates, this multiplies the compounding effect. You can’t do that by sticking your savings in a savings account, CD, or money market account.

It’s a fact that high wage earners can live paycheck-to-paycheck. Fancy homes, cars, and toys are unproductive assets. They may appreciate over time, but they don’t offer the one thing needed for building wealth, and that’s a consistent income stream.

Productive assets like income-generating alternative assets are what you need to achieve true financial freedom.

True wealth and financial independence won’t be achieved by punching a clock. It will take breaking away from the myth that hard work equals success.

High-income earners may have a lot of fancy things, but what many are missing is freedom. Freedom equals wealth. Time equals wealth.

High earners do not have the freedom to do what they want when they want, and for however long they want. They have to keep working.

So why are some people tied to their work, but some have that coveted freedom we’ve been talking about?

How can a teacher who makes a fifth of what a doctor makes, end up wealthy while the doctor perpetually lives paycheck-to-paycheck? The teacher has learned to buy back her time through passive investments – investments that work for her whether she’s awake or asleep.

And the best way to gain this freedom and is to buy back your time through passive investments. That’s why the wealthy have multiple sources of income, all working towards the same goal.

The savviest investors use their earned income to generate passive income first. Then it gets reinvested with the singular purpose of amassing multigenerational wealth and achieving freedom from the time constraints of a job or business.

Mike Ayala