Wealthy vs Rich

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 14, 2022  •  6 min read  •  Financial
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At first glance, wealthy and rich seem like the same thing. In some cases, these two terms are used interchangeably, especially when referring to money. You might even think someone with a specific amount of money is both wealthy and rich.

While these seem like the same thing, they are not. Even in the financial sense, wealthy and rich are rather different. Let’s look at some of the key differences between the two.

What is Considered Wealthy?

Many will say that being wealthy is more about the mental attitude of a person than the money. However, according to an article from CNBC.com, if you have $1.9 million or more, you’re considered to be wealthy.

One of the common measuring sticks used for wealth is how much money you have. It has to do with how much you have saved and invested for the future. Wealthy people have money that will last and tend to make wise decisions with their money.

What is Considered Rich?

SuperMoney.com believes the first benchmark you must reach to be considered rich is a million dollars in liquid access or an income of $250K per year. However, being rich can mean something different to each person.

Some people don’t even use money as a measuring stick when it comes to using the word rich to describe themselves. An older person living on a fixed income may believe they are rich due to the large, loving family they have amassed throughout their lifetime.

Wealthy vs Rich: The Key Differences

When using money as the measuring stick, there are key differences between wealthy and rich. These are not interchangeable terms. Some of the main differences are found below.

Mindset

If you’re wealthy, you have a mindset of saving and investing. A rich person will look to spend before they save. It’s often considered easier to be rich than wealthy. Many wealthy individuals also tend to retire earlier and work less than rich individuals.

The mindset of a wealthy person is a growth mindset. They aim to put their money to work for them. A rich person, on the other hand, will likely spend more on experiences and things than they will look to let their money grow.

Knowledge

It’s less common to meet a wealthy person without much knowledge than a rich person without much knowledge. Wealthy people tend to have a thirst for knowledge, while rich can happen to anybody.

Even someone without a high school education can win the lottery or inherit a large sum of money. Anybody can become instantly rich. Becoming wealthy often takes time and the ability to gain knowledge along the way.

Habits with Money

Another huge difference between wealthy and rich are the habits with money. A rich person will be more concerned with amassing new and popular things, such as cars, homes, and clothing. They may even go into debt to get these things.

A wealthy person will have a higher net worth. They may not look rich, but they will have more money in the bank and in investments. They don’t change their actual lifestyle and appearance as much as they change their net worth.

Rich people will care less about the price of something, as well. Wealthy people tend to be frugal and they will try to get the best deal possible. They may also live a more minimalistic lifestyle in order to use their money to create wealth.

Values

A rich person values prestige over pretty much everything else. They care how they look to other people. The impression they put out to the world matters.

Wealthy people will have a different set of values. They tend to care more about financial independence and they are not afraid to sacrifice to get it. Most wealthy people don’t care much about what others think of them.

A wealthy person may also value giving to specific charities more than a rich person. While a rich person may give away some money (often if it provides a benefit for them) a wealthy person will give away money without needing recognition because they support the mission.

Their Approach

A wealthy person will also approach things differently than a rich person. A rich person will work long hours to earn a higher income. This gives them the money they need to buy nice things and attend the top events.

Wealthy people, on the other hand, put their money to work for them. While they may work long hours, at least at first, they work to invest as much as they can, so they don’t have to work as much.

Longevity

Rich people are often parted with their money well before a wealthy person. We have all heard the stories of celebrities and athletes that get paid millions only to be bankrupt a few years later. It seems impossible, but it’s because they are rich, not wealthy.

Since rich people tend to spend more money on things that don’t hold value, they are often poor again before the end of their life. Wealthy people have what is known as sustainable money. Not only do they have more money for a longer portion of their life (often their entire life), but they leave it for future generations.

A wealthy person may look at how much they need to live on and how much they want to leave behind. They have a long-term mindset. A rich person cares more about how much they need to buy the next big thing. They have a short-term mindset.

It’s clear there are differences between wealthy and rich. You can actually become a wealthy person without ever being rich. Since wealth can be built over time, you can earn a salary that will never get you lumped in with the rich and become wealthy later in life.

If you look to the future and let your money work for you, you are a wealthy person. Those looking to spend first and save later might be rich, but it might also be short-lived.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.