Wealth: It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money

It's Not About The Money, Money, Money

Not everyone can be rich, but everyone can be wealthy.

The difference between money & wealth is huge.

If somebody were to ask me if I was wealthy, I would have to answer “yes”. However if someone asked me if I was rich, I’d definitely answer “no”.

I would describe myself as wealthy and I think I have been for some time.

… but I wouldn’t describe myself as rich (although I have probably been relatively close, or at least on the way there before I traded money for life).

That’s right – we ditched rich. I quit my well paid job and moved with my family to the countryside, downsizing and simplifying our lives considerably. We love it and we haven’t looked back since. You can read more about our move to the country here if you like.

I’m not sure I really like the idea of ‘rich’. Rich to me talks about excess, fast cars, fancy restaurants and expensive lifestyles.

I far prefer wealthy.

Wealthy Is Much Easier Than Rich

The funny thing about it is, whereas a lot of people perceive ‘rich’ as the goal, wealthy is much better than rich – and it’s easier too.

Wealthy kicks Rich’s a$$.

Wealthy is much easier to achieve.

As I said, anybody can be wealthy.

Wealthy incorporates ‘means’, wealthy incorporates ‘mindset’.

You can ‘feel’ wealthy, with nothing.

With life itself, we can feel wealthy.

In fact, if you pause for a moment, whatever your situation, think of what life has to offer. Hopefully you’ll agree there are treasures that we have which make us all wealthy, none of which require money. Let me tell you how some of those treasures look for me.

Some Examples of My Wealth – Freedom & Simple Pleasures

Today I went out walking with my dog.

The weather was outstanding.

My dog, Jess, (a working black labrador) had an absolute ball. I love to see her having such a good time.

As I was walking, I saw in an adjacent field another man with a dog. He had a whistle and was training that dog (which was actually another working black labrador – you see lots of working dogs such as collies, labradors & spaniels here in the countryside).

What can I say? I love dogs.

Not only that but the walk through the countryside itself was most enjoyable, the fresh air, the sound of the birds, the sound of that guys dog whistle in the background (here – listen for yourself if you like).

Even the sound of the traffic in the streets far below the hills where I’m walking. Because the air is so clear in the countryside, even though the noises are distant you can hear them quite clearly.

All of these small things I’ve experienced before but often taken for granted.

Often I return home after a nice walk and think ‘that was a nice walk’ but without really pinpointing why.

But now we’re thinking about it – here are my thoughts on the matter…

It’s time alone – as quick or as slow as I’d like to take it.

Time to think.

Time to breathe.

Time to relax.

Time to enjoy the gentle exercise and the beautiful scenery.

Its good for my health, good for my mind and back to the point of this. I feel really lucky to have this.

This is definitely part of my wealth.

The freedom to enjoy this simple pleasure. The added beauty of this treasure is that it’s free.

3-4 years ago, I was still working in London. I had a great job (on paper), a pretty good life, but no dog, no cat, no countryside, no fresh air, limited time with my kids (now that’s unlimited time). I could get fresh air at weekends (not as fresh as the air around here though).

What About The Bills?

“What about the bills?” I hear you say.

“What about the cost of living?”

Well, in my case I do make money from various means (investment mainly) so that is all taken care of. However, even if I didn’t, then what I’ve found is that if you simplify your life, bills and expenses are amazingly small.
Here are some of the bills that I have cut out of my life:

  • Gym subscription
  • Unnecessary insurance
  • Mobile phone monthly bill
  • Gas insurance
  • Electricity insurance
  • Expensive Car insurance
  • Expensive car maintenance
  • Restaurant bills
  • Travel bills (e.g.commuting)
  • Opticians monthly bills
  • Expensive Golf subscription – I still play golf, in fact, lots of golf
  • Telephone bills
  • Satellite TV Bills (Sky +)
  • Monthly payments for games
  • Expensive private school bills
  • Petrol bills (for school runs)
  • Mortgage Bills

We live in a small house that we can afford. We don’t have a mortgage. It’s all paid for. Why is it that people accept so readily having a mortgage? Even as they get to the time that they have paid off their mortgage, they think that they can afford a bigger house. So they buy one and have a mortgage all over again. Why are mortgages seen as normal?

Here are the regular bills we still have:

  • Home insurance
  • Car Insurance
  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Water

Everything else we just pay when we need to.

So, as I said in the simple, not cheap post, I’m really not talking about being frugal. On the contrary, I am talking about wealth. If we remove the excesses from our lives, then we make space for what we really want. Now, with all of these bills gone, I live well within my means. Considerably within my means.

If we remove the excesses from our lives, then we make space for what we really want.

I never wanted to be rich. I’ve never been driven to be rich. Not even affluent. Though ‘Comfortable’ doesn’t quite sound enough either. What I like the idea of and have always liked the idea of, is ‘Wealthy’.

These days I’ve designed my life to maximize the time I have doing whatever it is that I want to do. For me this is primarily spending every moment possible with my family. Personally I think it’s crazy that most people work through the time their kids are growing and developing (missing most of this evolution) and then retire just after the kids have left home.

What About Working Hard to Support a Family?

I get it.

I get that you want to work hard to support your family.

To provide them with a secure future, to keep them in the manner that they are accustomed.

I understand both of those arguments.

I do think however, that you can take both of those arguments too far. What if it doesn’t work out as well as you’d hoped? The pension isn’t as great as you’d planned, the pay rise doesn’t come. The bonus you thought you were getting is miniscule or has just been cancelled. The pay and the reward isn’t quite up to scratch. So you keep chasing it. Chasing it might even cause you some stress. Chasing it might even cause arguments in your family.

The same family you are working hard to support.

What if keeping your family in the manner that they are accustomed means keeping up to date with the bills, keeping them able to live a certain lifestyle with excesses and pleasures at the end of the day that don’t really mean anything like TV, a gym you never use, a fancy car you rarely get to drive… and all of this WITHOUT YOU THERE 80 % of the time (or at least 80% of the time you could really enjoy these things together whilst the sun is out or there’s still daylight, time when you’re not exhausted from working).

Just a thought.

Is It Really Worth It?

If you’re still not convinced, maybe there’s a half way between. Just don’t turn around one day and find that the family you were supporting don’t recognize you and have left home. The pension is getting closer and the thing you have to look forward to is your retirement.

What If You Love Your Work?

Well, if you love your work, that’s just great.

At the end of the day, for most people, work is often nearly half of your waking life. So if you’re lucky enough to have work that you love, then perhaps you’ve cracked it.

One small caveat: if you love your work and work is really, truly and genuinely your priority, then make it your priority with no regrets. However, if you love your work but your family is your main priority, and your work takes you away from your family, make sure that you find a way to do the work you love so much but without forgetting to take time for your family. It is possible to have both.

Whichever of these situations applies most to you, whether you love your work, or hate your work, whether your priority is life, family, wealth (I’m afraid I’m not going to allow you to say money) or freedom, I would encourage you to take a moment, write down all of the things that you want out of life and assess what your true priorities are. Then take a further moment to reflect how closely aligned your life is to those priorities.

A fantastic blog I came across fairly recently is Ramit Sethi’s ‘I will teach you to be rich’. From what I’ve heard Ramit has been very successful. I really like his straight-forward style. I think we do probably share the same values about wealth creation, certainly when it comes to investment and the right ways to invest. However (though it may just be semantics) you will never hear me tell you “I will teach you to be rich“).

I can teach you to be wealthy though.

The good news it it’s much easier than you think. If you want to know more feel free to join our email list below and drop me an email.


Wealth: It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money — 28 Comments

  1. Actually its trendy to say that money is not everything and richness is not measured by the amount of wealth you have. But lets face it, money makes the world go round. Its something that you need to survive and buy things which is turn will make you happy. Our day to day activities are concentrated around money, most of the time. Bills are getting more expensive and more money is required to basic amenities. But in all in, some money to have a good living and health are most important.

    • Interestingly, research suggests that in order to maintain balanced levels of wellbeing, individuals must take home approximately £3000 per month, and anything more will do little to increase happiness…£3000 a month is quite a lot don’t you think?

    • Hi Shalu,

      I get it that it’s trendy but I’m not saying it to follow a trend.

      It was what I was thinking at the time of the post.

      On your point re: money makes the world go around – that’s just one perspective. Perhaps ‘money makes our modern world go around’ is more accurate.

      Of course we need money but there are far more important things – e.g. health – and the extent to which money makes the world go around compared to some of these other things (health, family, freedom…) is something I’m challenging here.

      In the western world particularly, we are encouraged to consume far too much and in my view most people are actually wasting without realizing it – even those who earn very little.

      It’s a good final comment you make – “some money to have a good living and health are most important” but what do you mean by ‘good living’ – (for me most of that is free or at least inexpensive) and how much do you think it costs to have ‘good living and health’?

  2. Hi,
    Love your post, and completely get the difference between being wealthy and rich (I prefer to be wealthy)…
    However, I do have empathy for the low income families who struggle to even get their basic needs met and can live in terrible poverty. I think it is very hard for them to feel wealthy in these circumstances for a whole host of reasons – it’s complicated…though I do think any life would improve with gratitude and living in the moment.
    We can sometimes talk about the wonderful times of being in the moment and really appreciating life and all it has to offer, from a comfortable standpoint of, say, no mortgage and savings in the bank – and lose perspective slightly.

    • Hey Lisa,

      Thanks for a great comment!

      I kind of agree with ‘it’s more complicated’ and I don’t – whatever our situation, income, means… then that’s what we have to live with. Then we have two choices mentally – to live within those means (whatever they are) and to make the most of everything we have or to fight, complain that life is unfair, give up, get depressed – ill even, let our ‘situation’ completely take over…

      I’m not saying it’s easy but it’s the one thing we can change whatever our financial situation is what we do about it (in terms of our own thoughts and actions) at any given moment.

      Some of the happiest, optimistic and enthusiastic people I have ever met have also been the poorest (and believe me I’ve met lots) and some of the most miserable, depressed and confused people I have met have been the richest (in terms of money that is).

      “any life would improve with gratitude and living in the moment.” – absolutely.

      So I agree that the reality is complicated, but the concept of how we deal with/react to our reality is simple – there are only two choices… and whoever you are, whatever your situation, there is only one person in this world who can change your reality…

  3. Thanks for a thought provoking article!

    I recently dropped my work hours by half to have more time for my long time goal of writing. The joy and sense of freedom I felt was amazing! My energy levels lifted, and I got so much more done. I don’t miss the money one bit.

    • Hey Autumn,

      that’s great to hear and I’m so happy for you because I know exactly how that feels,

      take care, best wishes and thanks for commenting,

      • Alan,
        You forgot to mention one thing: you got to be crazy to live a little. I know you are, for sure (crazy in a nice way). You were and is always passionate and crazy about life. You might remember me, it is Rad, your old friend (if we still are)…I remember we did not write ever because of your work life style, I complained of you not responding to my emails (of your busy life style, this was 10 years ago) while I did (respond) to yours. I still remember, you told me “so what, do you want a medal? (for responding quickly)…”. Now I am glad that you have found your tranquility, your little haven (heaven), it is good and I totally agree with you, I love being wealthy (I am), I am blessed with my 3 boys (Chris, Jonathan and Matthew) and I look forward to have life style as yours Alan, to have the Life’s Too Good. Best regards from
        Rad, Chicago USA.

        • Hey Rad (I thought it was spelled Raaid?!?),

          Great to hear from you again!!

          You can talk dude about being crazy – you are (or were) definitely much more crazy than me. I remember you always laughing and hope you still are. I remember your laugh particularly (and do you remember push-ups on the tube?).

          It’s great to hear you have 3 boys, I know you would make a wonderful (and crazy) father!

          So how is Chicago?

          very best wishes to you & your family,


  4. I get your point, Alan, but wealth without money is difficult. Living within one’s means and saving is the secret to wealth at whatever scale you begin. The alternate path leads to money misery.

    • Hmmm – maybe.

      The point is more about living within your means – whatever your level of income.

      If you don’t, whatever level you’re at, you’re more likely to be miserable anyway.

      – and in today’s world too many people are living outside of their real ‘means’ because media, finance companies etc have led us to believe that ‘debt’ is a relatively normal thing – I just don’t think it should be.

      Also, with whatever money you have there are always 3 choices, not 2 -> spend it, save it or invest it (OK the last arguably is a form of spending it, but you know what I mean).

      Also – when you say ‘wealth without money’ is difficult, how much money are you talking about?

  5. After reading your insights, I could say I would also rather stay wealthy than rich. Being wealthy can be more easily achieved than being rich. You can be wealthy in a lot of ways. You can be wealthy in health or wealthy in love and affection. But you can never be rich in health nor in other things that can not be had through money.

    • Hey John,

      thank you so much for commenting and yes, you’re absolutely right to mention things like health and love/affection,

      couldn’t agree more 😉

      take care & best wishes,

  6. Very well said.

    I’ve thought around these lines before too. There is a difference between being rich and being wealthy. I love the way you put the distinction between the two.

    I’ve met a few people that have this need to be rich and buy luxury items and I just don’t get it. I mean I like nice things too, but I don’t need everything to be nice. It’s when someone works all the time to afford those things and is so exhausted from work to even enjoy them that I just scratch my head and wonder what the point of it all is. I think I’d rather have the time off and enjoy what precious time I have than work all the time for things I never get to see.

    • Hey Steve,

      yep, it kind of occurred to me one day whilst out walking – in fact – is this the one where I recorded the sounds in the countryside? Not sure if that came out very well, but anyways…

      Glad you liked it. I am definitely living my life driven far more by the idea of wealth at the moment than money – as you say there’s no point in working hard to earn money if you’re neglecting other things that are really important.

      Who wants to end up a rich fat sucker, who turns around to find his wife has left him, the kids have all grown up and one of them has social behavior disorder and his neighbors don’t remember his first name – but he has a really nice car.

      Not me 😉

  7. Nicely put Alan,

    i agree that wealth and rich are too different things.

    Unfortunately when it comes to mortgages, in some places you simply MUST have a mortgage or pay rent that is close to mortgage prices. Like in California where an average home costs 600 thousand US dollars. I’m sure Allie could attest to that. A descent home is a million dollar unless you live way out in the boondox where no jobs are located.

    Anyways, i’m off to the beach, it’s been a hot day.

    • Thanks Annie,

      my point with the mortgage is more about the size of it – I have seen too many examples of people who finally start to get on top of their mortgage payments then suddenly believe that they can afford to move into a bigger house and once again increase their payments.

      there are plenty of variables here but it’s more of a philosophical point – i.e. why do people in todays world accept debt so readily?

      I think London (where I lived & worked for 15 years) is very similar in UK terms to Cali in US terms – property prices and rents are high there – but then so are salaries generally which is why people go there – but even within that we still have choices – can we afford the nice big house with the pretty garden or do we have to live in the small apartment until we can afford something bigger, can we afford to live in the nice area or do we need to live on the outskirts of it… etc.

      you’d be amazed at how many ‘MUSTS’ a lot of people have (not you, people in general) that I would argue are not really ‘MUSTS’ at all…

      as I said though, my point on the mortgage/debt was mainly a mindset/philosophical one (for now) 😉

      hope you enjoyed the beach,

      a bientot,


  8. I love this post. It is full of lessons to be learned about having money and being wealthy. Its true that we don’t need money to be a wealthy person. We can manage being wealthy by having strength and faith in everything we do.

  9. I’ve been following Ramit for a while and what you wrote in your article is also reflected in his book – he talks about spending money on what you love and cutting back on all the things you don’t. I agree with you and I agree with Ramit – you don’t have to be frugal in every aspect of life – and spending money on what you love can be done guilt free!

    As for a simple life – some people like the money, car, house, etc and are willing to pay the price. I, like you, prefer time with my loved ones. Priceless!

    – Razwana

    • Priceless – I like it.

      Seems to fit well with the article 😉

      Yep – if you just cut out all of the things you don’t really need, especially anything that you’d consider an excess, you can spend time and money on what’s really important, as well as make space to truly understand what’s really important in the first place.

      … and you’re right, the simple life isn’t for everyone, but even with a very busy and ‘un-simple’ life, I still firmly believe it’s worth cutting out the excess and anybody can do that and see the benefits,

      thanks for the comment Razwana!


  10. I love this article.I have never been “rich” but yes,I have lead quite a happy life.A lot of the credit goes to my parents; they have taught us to be happy with what you have right now because there really is no greater joy in enjoying the present and being in the right now and being happy with what you have.

    I feel that if one isn’t happy with what they have right now; they can never be happy no matter what they get. The want will always stay.

    • It’s a really good point Hajra, there’s a lot to be said for practicing appreciation for what you have and also realising that what you have is probably a lot more than you think if you stop for a moment and take a look 😉

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