Difference between wealthy and rich

Here’s Why You Should Try to be Wealthy Instead of Rich

There’s a difference between being wealthy and rich.

At some point in time the meanings of the words ‘wealthy’ and ‘rich’ merged.

Ask your friends the difference between wealthy and rich and you’ll be met with blank stares.

Nowadays, most people think that they mean the same thing. But they don’t. At least we don’t think so.

Here’s a few reasons why everyone should strive to be wealthy, and how being rich can prevent you from becoming wealthy.

What Does Being Wealthy Mean?

Simply put, wealth is the accumulation of assets.

A wealthy individual follows most of the principles we have described here at The Finance Twins. They save at least 15% (usually more) of their paychecks, have no debt, have their retirement portfolio in smart investments, and live well within their means.

A wealthy person has a high net worth. Most people would not be able to recognize these people as being wealthy because it isn’t based on a flashy lifestyle.

The guide to becoming wealthy is not complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Which is why most people never truly become wealthy.

What Does Being Rich Mean?

As opposed to being wealthy, it is more simple to be rich. It requires less determination.

We all know rich people. Many of us have them in our own families. These are the people that give the illusion of wealth.

They drive a really nice new luxury car, wear the trendiest clothes, and have the latest and greatest gadgets.

If you take a look at the financial health of these individuals you would be surprised that they often live paycheck-to-paycheck and carry significant amounts of debt. They don’t save nearly enough for emergencies and definitely not enough for an awesome retirement.

In fact, many rich people are included in the 44% of Americans who don’t have $400 for an unexpected emergency, according to the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households.

Driving a Telsa isn’t cool when you don’t have a nickel saved for retirement. By now you are probably beginning to see the difference between wealthy and rich, but there’s still more.

Can You Go Broke Being Rich?

Absolutely. There are ton of celebrities that are known to have blown through crazy amounts of money and gone into bankruptcy.

Nicholas Cage at one point had a fortune of $150 million and lived the lifestyle expected of the rich and famous. After buying 10+ houses, an island, and rare collectibles, he found himself in financial trouble. He had to foreclose some homes and owed over $6 million in back taxes to the government. Ouch.

Compare that to finance guru and billionaire Warren Buffett, who doesn’t let his wealth go to waste. He still lives in the same house in Nebraska that he purchased back in the 1950s for just over $30,000!

Buffet drives the same Cadillac for years, but prefers to spend his money by flying in private jets, because he truly understands which things bring him the most happiness. It certainly isn’t having the flashiest car. Just remember that you can’t see the outside of a car from the driver’s seat. Paying for that sexy car is a waste.

Being Wealthy Isn’t Only About Sacrifice

Many people think that to create wealth they need to skip out on all of the fun in life. However, that’s just not true.

The key to building wealth isn’t so much about being cheap as it is about prioritizing happiness.

Research by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Norton has shown that spending our money on experiences, rather than material goods, brings us more sustained happiness!

Instead of buying the new jacket that just came out, pay for an experience (a show, an art class, a fun trip, etc.).

If you are already responsible with your money and want to spend it, just be wise with it. You’ll see that avoiding the things that make you appear rich will allow you to focus on the things that actually make you happy, while building wealth.

Experiences can be a lot more cost effective than buying the latest gadgets too. Once you realize which things you actually need you’ll see that you’ll slowly begin to yearn less for the things you once thought you had to have. All the while becoming wealthy.

So, would you rather be wealthy or rich? Share your thoughts below.






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23 thoughts to “Here’s Why You Should Try to be Wealthy Instead of Rich”

  1. Love this post!! Really puts things into perspective. And I definitely agree that experiences are truly the source of happiness. Thanks for sharing this great insight!

    1. You’re welcome! And thanks for taking the time to read. This is one of those lessons that everyone needs to learn!

  2. This! So true and so many people think that the point of having money is run around and blow it faster than they made it. Then they wonder where it all went. smh.

  3. I think part of what drives this is what we get shown on tv. I was just watching the bachelor a couple of weeks ago (#bachelornation whatup) and it almost makes it seem like we should all be striving to go on dates in all of these exotic places and drive fancy cars and fly private jets. But then you realize when they always break up at the end, that those material things never brought them happiness. Just my 2cents anyway lol

    1. We couldn’t agree more. Even on the drive or ride to work we are already bombarded with ads. Heck, even on your Instagram feed in the morning you begin to see ads pushed for products and things you don’t need. It never ends. Glad you enjoyed reading.

  4. Great read! I would love to see another perspective added or some variation of this idea (i.e. how could struggling millennials become “wealthy.”) I viewed the explanation of “the rich” as those who are financially irresponsible, which could be anyone with high or low income. But there are many people in their 20s to even early 30s who are financially responsible but unable to live that “wealthy life” still because of student loans or low income jobs.

    1. Thanks for reading! The reality is that most people never feel like they have enough money. For those that are responsible and struggling financially it’s important to stick with it and establish good habits early on. As your paychecks go up over your life you will use that increasing income to build wealth and avoid lifestyle inflation. The reality is that most people choose the rich lifestyle and never attain wealth, and those that do attain wealth do so by making wise responsible financial choices over many years.

  5. Absolutely enlightening! I once said to someone that I would prefer to be rich than looking rich. Reading across your blog really put my words into proper perspective.

  6. Yes! This makes perfect sense. Put another way it’s the difference between having assets (that make you money and income. I don’t know if you came across that Thomas Piketty book ‘Capital’ that everyone was drooling over a year or two ago but there’s a similar idea there.

    The only point that doesn’t fully work for me is what you say about experiences. I agree (as does the research) that they make you happier than material things. But I want to try to avoid tying my into happiness into experience as that is still something that is external and predicated on, at least some, money. My goal is to try to root my happiness in myself – but if I can’t do that then to root it in family and friends and simple things like reading, or listening to the radio or going for walks. Whether I manage it or not is for time to tell!

    1. Totally agree with you. With regards to experiences, we don’t mean that you should spend on experiences. Something as simple as a walk with a spouse or working on a school project together is a type of experience that will bring you more happiness than buying a new toy that will only get used for a week.

  7. A modest house in Adelaide Soouth Astralia cost 3,500 pounds in 1950’s ,it is now worth 350,000 dollars. By that reckoning Buffetts house is now worth 3 million dollars. Guess that might still be considered modest.

    1. No house in Nebraska can ever be worth that much, because Nebraska is not nearly as desirable a place to live, as say, Laguna Beach, California, where Buffet’s business offices (Berkshire Hathaway) are located. Whereas you could have bought a condo in Laguna Beach in the 1950’s, and have it worth over three million dollars now, that can never happen in Nebraska because of its location. And that’s how Warren Buffet became wealthy – by understanding that when you invest in real estate, it’s location determines appreciation.

  8. This reminds me about an episode of Seinfeld who says to the car rental executive, “you know how to make reservations but you don’t know how to keep it.” Well, your article sums it up beautifully like that. My inspiration comes from my father whose was a rags-to-riches story, enjoyed a flamboyant life, was a philanthropist, but the best part was he knew how to keep his hard-earned wealth – invested in assets that fetched him fantastic returns. Provided us excellent education with a sense of responsibility towards maintaining wealth and that keeps us on with our own contributions.

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