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Most People that Tell You They Don’t Want to be Wealthy are Lying

no bullshit

This post is completely inspired by a post by a recent tongue in cheek post (I swear I have never used that saying before, and I don’t think I will again) by Joe over at Personal Finance by The Book.  Joe starts the post by telling a story,

I have a friend who told me, “Joe, I just don’t want to be a millionaire. I am happy like I am. Having lots of money just doesn’t appeal to me.”

I am not going to get into the argument of how much money/assets is necessary to make someone wealthy, rather I prefer to think about wealthy as an abstract idea of financial freedom.  So what I really think that people like Joe’s friend, what they really mean is:

  • I don’t want to do what it takes to be wealthy
  • I don’t believe I can be wealthy
  • I don’t believe I deserve to be wealthy
  • Spending time watching TV at night or however I choose to use my free time is more important than being wealthy

I am sure there are people who really don’t care about money and fiscal wealth, but I refuse to believe that those people are anything more than a VERY small minority.  Those people are, in my humble and honest opinion, selfish and shortsighted.

Why is A Drive to be Wealthy Good?

Notice I didn’t try to steal the line, Greed is Good?  Perhaps I am going for a little self justification here (I mean the blog is named MY Journey to MILLIONS), but I truly believe a drive to do better in one’s life is a good thing, and in this instance we are just focusing on one aspect of my life.  Financial Freedom allows one to spend more time with family, have more “me” time, participate in more community programs, or in Joe’s Buddy’s case spend more time helping out a church.

When I hear someone say they don’t want to be wealthy, I hear, I really don’t believe I can be, so why go for it.  The fear of rejection is prevalent in our society and it is easier just to take yourself out of the game.  EVERY GUY has 2 kinds of friends, (1) that won’t talk to women at a bar because he is too afraid to get rejected and (2) The one that will “play the numbers” with the justification that someone has to say yes eventually!

Are there People Who Really Don’t Want to be Wealthy?

Yes, My Brother in Law is One, and I can’t understand him.  He runs/owns a really cool used bookshop in PA but a few website tweaks and he could double profits.  Will he let me do them? NOPE.  As stated earlier, I just believe he is being selfish because that extra money could help his future family later down the road, or short-sighted because that extra money could provide for his traveling cash.

Am I too Focused on my Goals to Understand others? Am I just an idiot?



  1. Perhaps a majority of them are lying, but maybe not. I’ve come to realize that making a lot of money is hard work, so people would rather say they’d rather not and are happy they don’t.

    It’s kinda like the debate in “The Dark Side Of Early Retirement” that’s raging on now below. I propose that people want to retire early b/c they just couldn’t be successful in their jobs, or find something they truly loved. So instead of take more rejection, they quit.

    Best, Sam

  2. First: thanks for referencing my post.

    Second: if you don’t want to say “tongue in cheek” (and I don’t blame you), you could try “satire”.

    Third: I have no clue why people claim they don’t want to be wealthy, but your first reason “I don’t want to do what it takes to be wealthy” probably describes my friend.

    • Damn it! Satire would have been a much better word to use.

      Send my post to your buddy I would love for him to comment!

  3. I agree with you, and I use that same excuse (“I just dont want..” like when people ask me out for drinks or something else I don’t believe in doing) for other things. I know it’s BS, but it usually stops the questioning, ya know! In Wealthy, I’m willing to go the extra mile because I know it will be worth it.

  4. there are numerous people who do not want to be wealthy in the financial sense of the word. This is because there are so many complications that come up when you give yourself over to wealth creation that can make you loose track with the really important things in life like family and relationships and there is also the afterlife to think of you know. For instance, i dont want my epitaph to read “the beat the stock market 3 years in a role when he was 30”. Yes i agree that being wealthy will probably make life a lot more fun but there are so many things that i am not willing to do for the millions

    • That is such a bullshit response.

      It allows you the opportunity to say “I could have done it, but I didn’t want” when you really don’t know if you could have done it.

      Go ahead and beat the market for 3 years in a row and then we can talk about bowing out of the rat race.

  5. I think you’re right that the actual words “I don’t want to be wealthy” are code for something else. Money does come with issues, but I think 99% of people would be fine having the money and those issues to deal with.

    I’d love to be wealthy, but to do so would either mean expending more of my time trying to improve myself far beyond my current capabilities or taking extra risks. Right now, I’m not comfortable doing that because I make a good living and have time to spend with my wife and son. So I guess I fall into #1 of your list. I do believe I could be wealthy, but the marginal cost of attaining that wealth isn’t worth it.

    PS – Evan I think you’ll totally get this when you have a kid, if you don’t get it already.

    • I understand what you mean, and somewhat agree, but you are doing an internal risk/time analysis in determining whether you are going to do move towards that end point.

      I know I don’t know you at all, but from your comments alone I could never picture you sitting down a bar or restaurant and with a straight face turning to the person next to you and saying, “Screw it I don’t want money.”

      • I think that’s accurate 🙂

        Actually, I plan on being wealthy one day – by virtue of paying off my house and having enough passive/investment income to pay my bills. That’s my definition anyway. My risk/time analysis is more about speeding that up by playing the rat race game.

  6. In my view, if people don’t want to become wealthy, pr achieve any goal for that matter, your 1st and 4th reasons stand out. Becoming wealthy or successful is not easy. If it was, everyone would be. They don’t want to do the necessary work.

    They’d also rather spend their time after work by de-stressing and watching tv. This isn’t necessarily bad in my opinion. But these same people might also complain about how they hate their jobs, or how they wish they had more money. It’s kind of like a comfortable misery.

    They may complain about how their life and work weren’t what they wish it was, but taking action to do something about it is also too hard. So they just stay stuck.

    Just my two cents.

    • I HATE when someone bitches about their job but when asked if they are doing anything at all to better their situation they say no. I usually scream at them – REDO YOUR RESUME AND SEND IT OUT!

  7. How do you know most people who tell you this are lying? Because I disagree…

    The common answer is: “I just want to be *comfortable*”. There’s a reason for that. Comfortable in most people’s minds means they will not lack anything they need to be happy–and so, wanting more money than that is greedy, or missing the point of life. For many the word “wealthy” means “substantially more than I need to be comfortable”, and so it is not worth the ethical worry or the extra effort.

    Now go back and ask the same people, “Would you accept not being *comfortable*?” and almost everyone would tell you a certain “NO.”

    What I’m finding, though, is the more I know about personal finance, the more I realize that I need much more money than I used to assume I needed just to have a good shot at “guaranteed” future comfort.

    • “so it is not worth the ethical worry or the extra effort.”
      – I get the effort part, but what is the ethical worry? Wealthy doesn’t mean unethical.

      • For some people, wealthy does mean unethical. I gave a definition of wealthy above as meaning “having more than you need to be comfortable.” If you have more than you want in a world where others have far less than they truly need, then that can be seen as unethical.

        Of course, the ethical issue can be mitigated if you give back your excess to those least fortunate. In that case, you are appointing yourself a wealth aggregator and distributor, and this is just what Warren Buffet claims he did when he gave the Gates Foundation $30 billion.

  8. Evan, I used to think I would want to or should want to be super rich. In part because I looked at it as a worthy personal challenge – almost like a game just to see if I could do it – which accumulating money has been for me.

    The drive to accumulate more has changed somewhat since I’ve actually accumulated “enough”. Having enough and being focused on my values has helped me see where my chasing after even more money doesn’t make much sense anymore. Besides, I was just feeling the urge to give the ‘excess’ away anyway – which is kind of fun too. Chasing after finding fulfilling things to do with my time is a whole lot more meaningful now as a marker of success than money is.

    For everyone else that doesn’t even seem to want financial freedom, it’s just a focus on short term gratification and a lack of long term thinking.

    And possibly that we took a different pill in the Matrix. 🙂

    • Jacqjolie:

      My friends and I feel the same way – we see it more as a game more so than a desire. Maybe that’s why others say their not interested, know they won’t be able to “win”?

      True that there are a whole host of new issues with having money & it’s a lot of work to get there – but you sum it up best in that last line, “focus on short term gratification…”

  9. Well, I suppose it all depends on what you mean by wealthy. Technically, from a global perspective, I could call myself wealthy already (although from a US perspective, I’m certainly not particularly well off).

    While I have nothing against the idea of having more money or becoming more wealthy, I do recognize that at some point additional money is going to have slightly less utility. . .and that it’s not worth it if it means less time.

    Time to me is a very important commodity.

    • Law of Diminishing returns! NICE.

      “, I do recognize that at some point additional money is going to have slightly less utility”
      – Do you have an idea where that point is?

  10. I think if you don’t want wealth you don’t really understand what wealth is… in the case of your brother I agree and find it selfish as well that he won’t make a few small tweaks… seems really odd… maybe he feels guilty making more money?

    • I don’t know if he feels guilty as much as it is an F U to the “establishment” whatever that may mean.

  11. Hmmm, I think you are right in your assessment… People don’t want to do what it takes to become a millionaire, but if you placed the money in front of them, I’m sure they would say “thank you”, especially if they haven’t been rich ever…

    Interesting debate…

    I think Ryan sums it up pretty good (saved me some typing).

  12. Hmmm… I don’t know that they are lying. Lots of money usually equals lots of work. I think if they have to build wealth through hard work, then no..they don’t want it. They are comfortable where they are at.

    Now what about using brains and research. It is possible to work the 9-5 and passively put money away towards retirement (not to say you aren’t working hard, but you are not working harder to make extra strides). Thus ending up with enough to happily retire. Not a rich lifestyle, but enough to get support and have a decent life.

    I think its possible, that some people know how to stop and realize their financial comfort zone.

    I… on the other hand, do not have that mentality. 😉

  13. Great post! I believe that your financial situation is all a state of mind! If you believe yourself worthy of wealth, you can easily achieve it. Goal setting is everything.
    Thanks again for the post and I will recommend it on my blog. It has made the top 5 for the week!



  14. I would love to be wealthy, and I’m currently working my way towards being wealthy one day. On the other hand, having “being wealthy” as an end unto itself, expecting it to make you happy or give you fulfillment isn’t going to leave you very satisfied. In the end having wealth may not make you happy, but being able to share your wealth, do positive things with it, etc may help.

  15. I agree with Money Funk. Money is just another choice. Some people don’t choose it.

    Also, you might want to choose to be wealthy for one day, and in an ideal world do enough work and become focused sufficiently to get that one day of wealthy paradise.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that! 🙁

  16. The problem with this headline/title is that the word RICH is loaded and subjective. I have friends who live in very depressed urban areas who think that people in lower middle class developments are “rich” because they don’t have burnt out homes nearby or most folks don’t rent their houses. I believe rich to be never having any worries about meeting needs. Not necessarily wants, but needs. Under this definition, I was rich growing up, as my parents took care of this, but am not now.

    Either way, I believe poverty is a mindset, but I am not convinced the only way out of it is a “rich” mind set. Thinking of wealth like health — something you address every day, work on a bit at a time, develop and monitor and even experience setbacks with, I believe is a good rule of thumb!

    Wealth is not inherently evil, but neither does it solve all ones problems!

  17. And let’s not confuse wealth with greed. Greed is the hording of things and money, whereas wealth is the prudent securing of financial protection for indepence and future concerns.

    The problem is, this is something taught from a very young age and so understood like math or English in some communities, whereas it comes across like “Quantum Mechanics” in others. We Americans, who understand the non-tangible benefits of financial well-being, as patriots, have a moral obligation to the future welfare of our nation to work towards an end to financial illiteracy!

  18. I like your bullet about choosing to watch tv/waste free time is more important that being wealthy.. this is so true. I think people get caught up in the daily grind and forget to think about how their actions today will effect their life tomorrow. Thanks for the thoughtful post.


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