What is Wealth? Are You Wealthy?

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I hear this phrase all the time, “Oh yeah, he’s so wealthy, he’s got more money than he knows what to do with!” But what does it really mean? What is wealth? Are you considered wealthy if you own a bunch of property? What if you have a huge house, are you considered wealthy? Maybe you just need to have a wad of cash on you at all times. Let’s explore this term and decide what it really means to be wealthy.

What is the Definition of Wealth?

By definition, wealth is ‘a measure of the value of all of the assets of worth owned by a person, community, company or country. Wealth is the found by taking the total market value of all the physical and intangible assets of the entity and then subtracting all debts.’

While I don’t necessarily disagree with the above definition, I think it sounds incredibly similar to the definition of net worth (assets minus debts). To me, wealth is more than just dollars and cents. Sure, someone can own a nice house and exotic cars, but they might work 90 hours a week. What’s the point of owning a bunch of nice things if you can’t enjoy them?

I would define wealth has having a large value of assets along with a large number of disposable hours at your finger tips. Just think, what if you had all the time in the world and you had $10 million in your bank account? Now that’s what I would call wealthy!

Would You Call Yourself Wealthy?

Are you Rich with Money?

To answer the question of wealth, let’s first start out with the term, “rich”. According to Sam from Financial Samurai, if you earn less than $500,000, you’re not rich. Check out his income breakdown below:

  • $50,000/year – You’re not rich. In fact, you’re lower middle class.
  • $100,000/year – You’re still not rich; you’re middle class.
  • $200,000/year – You’re not rich yet. You’re upper middle class.
  • $350,000/year – You’re getting closer, but still not rich – still upper middle class.
  • $500,000/year – Finally, you are considered rich.

I can safely say that my wife and I are not yet rich.

Are You Rich With Time?

The aspect of time is obviously much more difficult to gauge, so let’s just base it on hours worked.

  • 90+ hours worked per week – you are poor on time
  • 70-89 hours worked per week – you are moderately poor on time
  • 50-69 hours worked per week – you are lower middle class with time
  • 40-49 hours worked per week – you are middle class with time
  • 30-40 hours worked per week – you are upper middle class with time
  • 20-29 hours worked per week – you are at the highest levels of middle class
  • Less than 20 hours per week – you a incredibly rich with time

I’m pretty sure that between my day job and my online ventures, I’m nearing poverty when it comes to my time. I most likely come close to working 70 hours per week.

Are You Rich With Money AND Time?

So, based on the charts above, how do you rank between your income and your time? To be honest, I rank pretty terribly in both money and time, but I don’t feel as though I’m that far away from “wealthy”.

Assuming that you’re able to save at least 20% of your earnings (remember, wealth isn’t all about yearly income, it’s about assets), I’d say that if you earn more than $200,000 per year and you work less than 40 hours per week, you are definitely considered wealthy.

What do you think? Would you calculate wealth differently? Are You wealthy?

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Money

Derek

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

60 Comments

  1. Right now? No. I’m not wealthy.

    I went to happy hour with one of my former coworkers recently and we talked about how much money I needed to be satisfied. As a self proclaimed money grubber, she thought I’d need to earn like a million dollars a year. I told her, for what I want out of life, I calculated I only need about $75K a year. As long as I have the time and flexibility to determine where and how I make that money, I’m good. Although I certainly wouldn’t mind making a million bucks a year, I’m sure that level of income is paid for with tremendous sacrifice.
    Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think recently posted..ImpulseSave Giveaway

    • Sounds quite admirable Shawanda. $75,000 a year would definitely give you some cushion, and allow you to do a few things for you. I can see where that would be a nice number to shoot for.

    • Haha. Yep. Living expenses definitely matter don’t they? I think I’ll just stick around here in the mid-west….;)

  2. Looks like I’m not wealthy at all – Middle Class and poor with time. I do agree with obtaining assets. This has been one of the biggest transformations for me and my finances over the past decade. I feel that eventually my assets will lead to wealth in both measures of time and money.
    MyMoneyDesign recently posted..The Process of Repairing Bad Credit

    • Invest in the right assets and you’ll definitely succeed in life, especially if you do it repeatedly and consistently. Good luck!

  3. Hmmm.. interesting way of looking at it. I seem to fall right in the middle of middle class.

    I once read that wealth is how many days forward you can live without a paycheck. If your investments generated enough income that you didn’t need to work to support yourself, you were wealthy. So I guess wealthy equates to financial independence. That is a good working definition for me. Maybe one day I will even attain it 😉
    The Stoic recently posted..Changing Your Life By Working Abroad: The Financial Benefits

    • I heard of that too, and that’s a great way to look at wealth as well. Living without depending on a weekly paycheck would certainly be a rare feat!

  4. For the mid west, I’m probably lower middle class but I come from NY so I find myself feeling very poor.
    But with the above–probably lower middle class if I combine my salary’s with my guys and just count my time alone.
    bogofdebt recently posted..I joined the Yakezie Challenge!

    • I can see where NY would bring you down. How do people survive there?

      • I’m just glad I moved out here to the midwest–I feel so much better about myself!

  5. I would not consider myself wealthy, but as bogofdebt said, since I’m from the Midwest also, I would be considered poor in other areas.
    Michelle recently posted..Money Life Lessons

    • I love living in the midwest! I bought a house for $78,000, food is cheap, clothes are cheap, why doesn’t everyone live in the Midwest? 😉

  6. Certainly, I am not wealthy by the definitions you suggest. I would like to be there someday, of course. It basically boils down to a lifestyle and having some sort of passive or limited maintenance type of income that allows for some freedom to make choices.
    cashflowmantra recently posted..How to Make $1000 Per Month with Multi-Level Marketing

    • I think most of us will be there someday. We just have to keep plugging along!

  7. By the definitions described here, I am not wealthy, but wealthy with time.

    By measure of my own definition of wealth, I consider myself very wealthy. I have great health, live in a very nice apartment with nice furnishings, drive a car that is reliable and looks nice, have a loving husband and well-behaved children, wear decent clothes, and am blessed with good looks. I’m not struggling financially, yet I’m not swimming in cash. I have a ton of debt from my past, but I have food on my table and in my belly. It could be worse.

    I’m very grateful for the wealth I DO have.
    Lauren recently posted..Feb 29, Money Management is Important, <br>Especially for Young Adults

    • That’s a great attitude Lauren! Thanks so much for the comment!

    • You’ve got it, and you back my definition of wealth perfectly! Thanks for the comment, Krantcents!

  8. I would not consider myself wealthy unless I could sustain myself without having to work at a job other than something I would want to do, need to work on 1. starting to earn passive income and 2. growing that passive income.

    Interesting way to look at wealth though! Income wise I’m just barely budging lower middle class but time-wise I’m upper middle class… so if I work more and make more money I would be smackdab middle middle class, I guess? Lol. Hmmmm

    • That passive income is key. I’m starting to develop it, but it’s not easy!

  9. I hope folks won’t see me as a heartless bastard based on the one line summaries of the various income levels you’ve written Derek! lol. Seriously, folks who read this, read my post and see the long reasonings for each income level as to why I think the way I do.

    My goal is to work 3-4 hours a day and make around $200,000 so the government doesn’t come after me for being an evil rich person.

    Best, SAm
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Greedy Banker or Thoughtful Banker?

  10. Quite a nice topic and 101 thanks to you all … My 5 cents is that wealth is more than just time and money – It is all that we need to perfect the body-mind-spirit continuum as much as possible. Simply put, it is all that makes us joyful or better still, permanently joyful. Some authors call the art of perfectting the body-mind-spirit continuum, self actualization… If one inherits a $1 million but is extremely sick, I will suggest that such a person is still very poor because I think body wellbeing comes first. BTW scientific studies now show that the quality of our relationships account for much more well being than money. For instance, it is 20 times more likely for a child from a single parent home to run into trouble than one from a home where both parents present, irrespective of income level. What about mental wealth? What about spiritual wealth?

    • Nice comment Ticha. Of course there are other areas of wealth, but since this is a finance blog and all, I’ll just stick with that. I think quality relationships are very important, but if there’s a shortage of cash, quite a few couple tend to fall apart. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

  11. I like the combined hours and money factors to determine wealth. When I worked 80 hour work weeks, I hated every minute of it. And my salary sure wasn’t in the wealthy range. Now, though, working less and making less, I’m much happier and feel much more wealthy.
    Christa recently posted..Kids and Finances: How to Tell Them You Must Cut Back

    • I’m glad you could attest to the whole time aspect of wealth. There’s just something about having time to do whatever it is that you want to do that really makes a difference in the quality of your life.

  12. Well I would even here in the mid west be considered, lower poor if you count the green not backed by gold or anything. BUT if I consider my husband and children, love and laughter all assets ( and I DO!) LOL then by all means I am one lucky wealthy son of a gun! 🙂
    Poor to Rich a Day at a Time recently posted..A Dog’s Chicken Stew

    • Lol! Awesome comment! You’re right, love and laughter should count. I know they’re important in our relationship. 🙂

  13. Nice post. Looks like I’m middle class through and through!

    “My goal is to work 3-4 hours a day and make around $200,000 so the government doesn’t come after me for being an evil rich person.”

    Looks like the Financial Samurai and I have the exact same goals.

    • Lol. Sounds good to me too! 😉

  14. I don’t need any amount of money to consider myself wealthy. I have good health, and a very loving family!

    • Great point Tim! It’s certainly is a blessing to have a loving family!

  15. Interesting to see the breakdown like that…we’re no where near rich, particularly on just one income. we are much wealthier on time, and for us right now, that’s just fine. 🙂
    Deanna recently posted..Because I Care

    • Being wealthy in time is not a bad thing either though. It may give you the option to make a side income (just like you’re already doing). 🙂 Keep it up!

  16. I see one major flaw in the mindset to use realized income as a touchstone for richness. IRS loves this definition for obvious reason. Rich in my mind is one who makes less than 50K but has 10 times networth. So, if someone is making 500K is not rich unless he has $5 million in networth(mainly invested in non-taxable assets).
    Shilpan recently posted..5 Simple Ways to find A Winner or Whiner

    • Thanks for the comment Shilpan! I agree that a person’s net worth should rise in accordance with their earnings. I only had a short sentance regarding this toward the end of the post, but I think you’re spot on!

  17. I may not be wealthy in terms of money. My life is filled with happiness, a very loving wife, 3 awesome kids and all are healthy, got tons of friends and a lot more, and I guess all of them make me wealthy enough. Just sharing. 🙂
    Tony james recently posted..Sales Summer Intern

    • Yep. Nobody ever said that happiness depends on wealth, but if I had the option to have a loving family with or without wealth, I’d choose to be wealthy. It just sounds more fun doesn’t it? 😉

  18. I like this angle Derek. I also think there is some level of inverse relationship between money and time. I know several “money wealthy” people. I also know several “time wealthy” people. I can honestly say I don’t know any “money and time wealthy” people.
    BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog recently posted..What are your “R” Numbers?

    • Ha, you’re right about that. The workaholics of the world haven’t yet figured out how to grow rich without sacrificing all of their time. It is possible though. My old boss used to make well over the $500,000 per year and he took a 6 month vacation at the same time!

    • Haha, I would say no, unless you have a solid plan in place to reduce your hours worked per week before the typical retirement age (you know, something like, 3-4 hours worked per day by age 35).

  19. Derek, to be brutally honest if you are working for money, you are not rich. The money flow can stop any time.

    I think around $ 1 billion – you are rich. At this level even a lethal disease won’t ruin your family and finances.

    • Haha! Wow, you set your sights pretty high FI! $1,000,000,000. And what is the plan to make a billion?

  20. I think my definition of wealth would be focused more on time you have available. Being able to work only 20 hours a week and enjoy more free time is the ideal formula I’m working towards.
    BestCarCoverage recently posted..How Dancing with the Stars Relates to Car Insurance

  21. My grandpa taught me there was a difference between wealthy and rich. He said, “You can be rich and not wealthy; wealthy but not rich;or, you can be rich and wealthy.”
    Grandpa equated rich with lots and lots of money.You could save it, steal it, win it, inherit it,and even earn it. But once it was gone it was gone. He equated wealthy with cash flow. He said, “You are wealthy when your assets bring a steady income that lets you live the way you are accustomed to living and want to live without having to work hard.”
    He also said that there were other types of wealth and riches that were more important than monetary wealth and riches, that money was just a means to an end,and if you had your priorities straight every doller you get returns ten times that or more in the other wealths and riches of your life. God, family, friends, community, charity,etc.

    • I would have loved to have known your grandpa! He sounds like a very wise man. Thank you for sharing his lessons!

  22. Oops! I really do know how to spell “dollar”

    • Haha. I actually didn’t even notice! You could have gotten away with it. 😉

  23. So basically, it’s not so much how much you make, but rather your networth? In other words, you can make $50,000 a year and still be wealthy by net worth?

    • That’s 100% right! Your net worth has more to do with how wise you are with your money, not how much you make at your day job. Some school teachers die with a $2,000,000 net worth, while a doctor who lived the high life only acquired $500,000. It really is fascinating.

  24. It is great that you posted several different value of wealth. Time and money are both aspects of it. I wrote an article on other aspects of wealth. We sometimes focus only on the outward measure of wealth and miss the inward part of it.

    You can find that article here http://www.askthewealthsquad.com/what-is-wealth/

    One thing to think about though is that our use of time and money can change quickly. Someone building an business may look very poor in both income and time as he builds it but then suddenly be very wealthy as he reaches certain goals.

    Wealth is a journey
    Scott Lovingood recently posted..Supreme Court Rules On Obamacare- What Does it Mean to Small Business?

    • It is pretty tough to track wealth, but as long as you’re developing assets and not liabilities, you should be just fine. Thanks for the comment!

  25. Most people who have money inherited it , and did not do anything to be rich.

    • I don’t really agree with that gustavo. I’m pretty sure I heard a stat that said only 5% of the wealthy had any substantial inherited income. The rest of the millionaires out there were first generation and worked hard for it themselves.

  26. Do these numbers differ for single persons


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