Rich Vs. Wealthy: 8 Main Differences

The terms “rich” and “wealthy” are often thought to mean the same thing. You have probably used these words yourself when talking about someone who has a lot of money.

But they aren’t equal, and you’d probably rather be one more than the other. To find out more about rich vs. wealthy, and why you should avoid one and try to be the other, read on.

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What is considered being wealthy?

Being wealthy has more to do with a mental attitude than money. It is sometimes easier to be rich than wealthy.

If you are wealthy, you have money that will last because of wise decisions. If you’re rich, you may have money, but it’s easy to lose it all because there is no good understanding of how to handle it.

Simply put, wealthy people save and invest money for the future, while rich people have money in the here and now. You can be both rich and wealthy, but being rich on its own may not last, where wealth does.

It requires a lot more discipline to be wealthy than rich. Riches just mean you have a lot of material things and plenty of cash – for now. Wealth takes time, commitment, and patience.

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Who has more money, a rich person or a wealthy person?

This is hard to say. Wealth is not always about the numbers as much.

A wealthy person will have more money long-term. And they don’t have to be concerned about running out.

But a rich person may have more money for a while, or even at certain times, like payday. Rich people tend to spend quicker and save less, finding themselves low on cash quickly.

Most people would label someone “rich” if they make above a $309,000 salary

A wealthy person will have a larger amount of money that is consistently growing because they save and are wise with what they have. They tend to think of the future and put away some cash for it rather than spending everything. 

For example, a rich person may earn $10,000.00 in a month. But they spend $12,000.00, winding up with -$2000.00 when the month is over.

A wealthy person may earn $6000.00 in a month. But they spend only $3000.00 and save the additional $3000.00. At the end of the month, they have $3000.00, even though their income is lower than rich people.

They actually have more money. It’s all about decisions. So being wealthy is about net worth and not always income.

1. Rich vs. Wealthy Mindset

As you know, wealth is all about how you think about money and your decisions because of it. The rich may have a lot of cash, but the right mindset can turn that cash into wealth.

The main difference in a wealthy mindset is that they focus on saving cash first whereas a rich person will spend their money before saving.

Wealthy people are also more likely to have a growth mindset. They’re constantly learning and figuring out ways to earn more or invest their money. A rich person might do that up to a point and then turn stagnate.

Related: Surprising Differences Between a Rich and Poor Mindset

2. Rich vs. Wealthy Approach

One of the biggest differences in being rich vs. wealthy is how the two groups think about time. Rich people may work long hours for large paychecks, trading their time for money. Instead of focusing on how money works, they prefer to just earn more, even if they don’t keep it.

Wealthy people prefer to make their money work for them. Even if they don’t have as much to invest as someone rich, they put their money aside to earn interest.

It goes to work for them, and the more time, the better. Instead of working hard for a paycheck that will one day be gone, they work on paying themselves in the future. Their money grows instead of disappearing.

3. Rich vs. Wealthy Knowledge

Having money is something that can happen to anyone. You could win the lottery or inherit a pile of cash from someone else.

That would make you instantly rich. But being wealthy is different. Rich people usually have a ton of money, but wealthy people know how to make more money.

Wealthy people know how to earn money. If they find that they don’t have enough cash, they can go out and make more.

They may do this in various ways, including investments, regular jobs, or side hustles. They believe that they can create more of what they need and that time helps their wealth grow, whereas rich people may think money is finite.

Someone considered rich may not often look to the future to what their money could turn into, because they focus only on the now.

4. Rich vs. Wealthy Savvy 

Someone can become rich by accident or just by having a job that pays well. They make a lot, so at the moment, they have a lot of cash.

It is all about circumstance. But wealthy people are educated about finance. Having money is always on purpose for the wealthy. They envision their goals and work towards them until they get to where they want to be.

They might do this by first reading and learning about how money works. From there, they make wise choices about how to use the money they have to make more. In time, they find themselves with more than enough because of the choices they’ve made.

5. Rich vs. Wealthy Money Habits

Money habits are everything with finance. Rich and wealthy people have some huge differences.

The rich are often concerned about having the newest clothes, cars, and homes. As a consequence of their money habits, they are often in debt.

They spend more than they earn and may end up with many material items, but they probably don’t own most of them. It’s an illusion.

The wealthy, on the other hand, will have a high net worth. They may or may not have a lot of nice things that look “rich.” But they are more focused on growing their wealth than looking like they have money.

Their money habits cause them to save their cash instead of going into debt. They invest and work hard to get more money for their future.

They ask themselves questions like, “How can I make more money from what I have?” and “If I don’t spend this money, what can it grow into?”

6. Rich vs. Wealthy Longevity 

Rich people may not keep their money for long. They usually spend their money so they don’t have much more when their paycheck or sudden pile of cash is gone.

They think of the here and now and not the future. This gives them many nice things and a lot of money, but only for a short time.

But the wealthy have sustainable money. They save some of what they make and try to grow their wealth.

They want their cash to last not only for their lifetime but possibly for future generations, as well. They consider the future and make choices now to help them have all they need in later years.

The wealthy ask themselves how much they will need to live on when they can no longer work and may think of how much money they want to leave their children and grandchildren.

7. Rich vs. Wealthy Spending Habits

Rich people aren’t usually frugal and tend to spend a lot of money. They may rationalize that they can afford it, and they’ll start saving “someday.”

They often buy expensive gadgets or items just because of the prestige associated with them or on impulse. Their habits tend to be very focused on having what they want.

Wealthy people think beyond this. They buy what they need, not just whatever they want all the time.

Their habits are intentional, and they think about why they buy things before they do it. As a result, they may not have all the latest or fanciest things, but they have money that lasts.

8. Rich vs. Wealthy Values

Another considerable difference between the rich and the wealthy is their values. The rich value prestige and how things look to other people.

They want to give the impression that they have it all. Their lifestyle reflects this.

Wealthy people have different things that they value. Instead of thinking about how they appear to others, they instead value freedom and time.

They know that building wealth will give them both of these things. So they focus on growing their money and don’t think about whether they look “rich” or not.

Their ultimate goals are financial independence, paid for homes, and wealth in their later years. They sacrifice having the best and newest things for the time and freedom they’ll have later.

Can you be wealthy without money?

This is a valid question because being rich vs. wealthy has to do with mindset, not how much cash you currently have.

Wealthy people build money over time, and they have good financial habits. Rich people currently have a lot of cash, but their habits will not help them keep it.

Because of this, it is possible to be wealthy without making a lot of money. If you don’t earn a lot of money, but you save and invest, you could wind up with a lot more than someone who is rich right now.

Being wealthy means looking to the future and making your money work for you over time. If you know how to do that, it doesn’t matter how much you start with; you will eventually have a lot of money. So yes, you can be wealthy even if you do not earn much currently.

Why is being wealthy better than being rich?

Being wealthy is preferable to being rich for a lot of reasons. First, you know what to do with your money when you’re wealthy. Rich people do not always understand money or know what to do with what they have.

Next, wealthy people have a can-do mindset that allows them to make and keep more cash. Rich people often run out of money after a short while because they spend it all.

These are all reasons why being wealthy is much better than being rich. With rich vs. wealthy, being rich is short-lived, and you can wind up with nothing pretty quickly, especially if you get into a lot of debt.

But being wealthy is a habitual lifestyle that lets you grow your money over time. A wealthy mindset helps you make intelligent financial decisions and have a secure future.

How do I know if I’m wealthy?

Suppose you have a habit of saving and investing cash properly. In that case, you tend to think long-term about your financial decisions.

You spend money with thought and intention, so yes, you are on your way to being wealthy. That wealthy mindset will someday translate into having a lot of cash, though it takes time to build.

If you simply make a lot of money but find that you spend it all or have a hard time with impulse buying and investing, you might just be rich. But don’t worry!

If you are rich but learn how to use wealthy habits, you can quickly become wealthy. If you already have some cash or earn a good income, you can turn your finances around faster.

There are tangible differences between the rich and the wealthy

It’s true. The differences between the rich vs. wealthy are apparent. The wealthy are smart about spending, saving, and investing. The rich often go into debt and buy expensive things on impulse. 

The tangible differences you may see for the rich include multiple credit cards, making monthly payments, fancy houses and cars, and new clothes. The wealthy may not have many luxury items, but they will have a lot of knowledge about money.

They will know how to save and will wisely spend. You’ll see their good money decisions daily as they focus on buying needs instead of wants and talk about financial freedom.

You can be wealthy, even if you don’t know much about money. Begin to educate yourself on how investments and retirement accounts work, and start to save some cash instead of spending all of it. If you do this, in time, you will become wealthy.

You can increase your wealth by taking on extra hours at work, starting a side hustle, or find some other way to make more money. The money you make can help you a lot if you know what to do with it. 

In this article, you’ve learned a lot about rich vs. wealthy and why it is so much better to be wealthy. Give yourself time to learn and keep trying; soon, you will find yourself building wealth.

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Steffa Mantilla

Certified Financial Education Instructor

Steffa is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and the founder behind Money Tamer. Her 12-year background in operant conditioning and positive behavioral change training is used to help people find effective motivators to change their harmful money behaviors. Steffa explains the reasons “why” behind people’s financial behaviors and how to successfully change them. After paying off over $80,000 in debt through budgeting, she now teaches families how to get their own finances in order. You can learn more about her here.

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