The “Real” Advantage Of Being Wealthy
There’s a myth being propagated about the wealthy (mostly by movies, social media, and television) and it goes a little something like this:
When you become wealthy you can buy whatever you want, and you won’t need to work anymore. Life is one big vacation — filled with trips to the Bahamas, fancy sports cars, mansions, luxury hotels, and nice restaurants.
Maybe you’ve seen or heard this myth before. It’s pretty common. The emphasis is on the spending.
Those mental images about being wealthy are what I call wealth porn. It’s the plastic-fantastic version of wealth made to look sexy and appealing. It’s also mostly fake. As the Millionaire Next Door teaches us, the vast majority of millionaires actually live pretty humble lifestyles. They live pretty much like everyone else.
But that’s not to say there aren’t advantages to being wealthy. There are A LOT of advantages to being wealthy. The problem is, those advantages don’t get talked about very often. Instead, the media simply propagates the wealth porn version.
If that’s the version of wealth you’re hot and horny for — Well, there’s the Rich Kids Of Instagram for that.
As a millionaire myself, I already know how useless a flashy lifestyle is. I’m more interested in the advantages that wealth brings.
The “How You Earn” Advantage
When you’re poor, trading your time for money is the normal way to get by. It’s how most folks afford food, shelter, healthcare, and all the necessities of life. This is considered a perfectly acceptable way to live. If you’re not careful however, you could end-up trading too much of your precious time. You might even die at your desk.
The wealthy have a big advantage in how money is earned — they don’t have to deal with that little inconvenience called a job. Instead of trading time for money, their money simply does the work for them. That money is invested in assets like real estate, bonds, stocks, and other business interests which works while the investor eats, sleeps, and otherwise carries on with life. All without having to lift a finger or commute to work.
This frees up a ton of time — 40 hours a week (or more) to pursue leisure, education, building even more wealth, or other productive pursuits.
Now that’s not to say that wealthy people don’t have jobs (many do), but the trading of time for money is not required by the wealthy.
The “No-Line” Efficiency Advantage
Have you ever heard the phrase “Wealthy people don’t wait in line.” I’ve found this little catch-phrase is true in a number of different ways.
For example, I used to do the vast majority of my shopping after work or on the weekends… along with everyone else tied to a 9 to 5 work schedule. I’d be stuck in traffic, standing in checkout lines, and dodging shopping carts amongst throngs of people. It was a giant pain in the ass to go shopping because I hate standing in lines.
Often times I’d simply pick the store closest to home because it was the most convenient to shop at, not because it had the best prices.
Once I reached financial independence, this all changed. I slowly came to realize that those old patterns were incredibly inefficient. Instead of shopping at Costco along with the mobs of people on the weekend and using up 2 hours of my day, I now shop there at 11:00 AM on a Tuesday.
If you’ve ever shopped at Costco on a Tuesday morning, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s as dead as a doornail. I can race down the isles and be in and out of the store in 30 minutes!
These efficiency gains don’t stop with shopping either — I now do most of my errands during “dead” times of the day with little traffic or wait time. Going to the dentist is now faster. Getting my annual car emission inspection is quicker. Even a trip to the post office now takes a fraction of time it did before.
The same goes for travel — instead of flying on the weekends, I can now pick the cheapest day of the week to fly. Usually it’s on a Wednesday morning… which is totally fine by me.
Or, I can pay extra and pick flight times that are the least busy at the airport or have the fewest ground transportation traffic. This usually happens early in the morning (before commute time) or late at night.
Having wealth and time allows me the freedom to pick whatever I conditions I want to optimize for.
The Health Advantage
As a father of two kids, I know very well the challenge of trying to balance work, and family life. Kids take a lot of time, and maintaining a job takes even more time. Doing both is burdensome. Eventually something has to give, and for many parents (sadly) our health suffers.
Instead of heading to the gym or working out regularly, parents often try to catch-up on some needed rest.
I can totally relate to it because just a few years ago that was me — After a long day at work, I would come home to two kids that needed a lot of care. Exercise became secondary. By the time I got the kids into bed, I was too exhausted to do anything else. The only thing on my mind was sleep.
All that changed once I didn’t need to worry about maintaining a job. I now walk my kid to school every day, getting an hour of exercise each day. After my walk, (if I’m feeling up to it) I’ll even add in a little weight lifting or add a few sets of push-ups.
Not only do I get to spend a little more time with my son, but it also feels great to get regular exercise again.
I have my wealth to thank for this — not only do I have enough time for exercise, but being healthy is going to keep medical costs lower over time. Heck, I might even live longer because of my wealth!
The Weirdo Advantage
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — Wealthy people are kind of weird. While weird usually isn’t a nice word to use, being weird can have big advantages.
For one, much of our spending in the modern world is about conforming to social pressures and social norms. Being ‘weird’ is essentially a statement that means we don’t fit those norms.
Think about it — when you work in an office 40 hours a week, you have something of a relationship with your co-workers. Those co-workers are going to be placing social pressure on you — From what kind of car to drive, to what kind of diet you pick. Social pressure is everywhere.
It’s perfectly normal — people want to fit in. If all your co-workers wear suits and ties to work, you’ll probably dress nice too. Most people don’t want to stand-out from the crowd.
But the wealthy aren’t exposed to those same social pressures. In my case, once I escaped from regular work it was comfortable jeans and t-shirts everyday. I no longer felt the need to conform. I’m the first to admit that I got pretty weird… and in my mind it’s a good thing! I can do things differently.
I don’t need to own a nice car or nice clothes to feel good about myself. (Hell, I know some wealthy people that don’t even own a car.) Neither do I need to impress my co-workers with the latest cell phone from Samsung or Apple — I’m perfectly happy rocking my 6 year old Samsung phone that I bought used.
I save a ton of money every year because I’m not interested in conforming. Instead, I focus on putting my money into places where I believe it matters — my kids, and investing even more money to keep building my wealth.
They say wealth can’t buy happiness, but that doesn’t mean having wealth doesn’t have some major advantages. It’s through these advantages that I believe you can find happiness.
The world sells one image of wealth on TV and social media, but I’d like the world to know that there’s other options. Wealth doesn’t need to be about spending.
After a few years of living a life of Financial Independence, I really don’t want to buy anything. My happiness and success in life aren’t realized by buying things. Instead, I want the real advantages that having wealth provides. How about you?
41 thoughts on “The “Real” Advantage Of Being Wealthy”
“It’s the plastic-fantastic version of wealth made to look sexy and appealing.” Ha! Yes!
Many of the people I used to work with would be considered much more wealthy than me – however, I can’t help but notice they work 70 hours a week, are in poor health, have kids who are terribly behaved, and are always stressed.
I’ll take the time freedom over the extra dollars.
Yep, exactly my thinking too. I could buy a bigger house or a fancier car, but why the hell would I? Time and freedom are more important.
I bet most of these flashy rich end up being not wealthy at all. I mean, if you have that hunger of having a fancier house, a bigger boat, another exotic car… how sustainable can that be?
Not very sustainable at all!
Being financially independent affords you the luxury of a lot of things – less stress and aggravation included.
Avoiding the long lines at grocery stores and the malls are nice icing on the cake!
I kind of lump less stress and aggravation under the ‘health’ advantage even though I didn’t specifically mention them. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
You should also try late night grocery shopping, like midnight, whole different experience. I liked this article, weird is good.
Great idea. In my younger years I used to do a little late night shopping, but these days I don’t.
Not every store is open late at night either. Certainly not the dentist or doctor’s office. So I’m resigned to running most of my errands during the day.
Love this post. It makes me look forward to our FIRE move even more!
I think my favorite point is regarding weirdness. Yup, non-conformists are often considered weird. Good for all the weirdos of the world. I consider myself an odd fellow already and I can’t wait to be considered completely weird. 🙂
Hi Mr. Tako,
I think the advantages of wealth are that you get to decide what is worth spending your money
on. The experience of being frugal shows you that you can be perfectly happy with ‘less’, I wonder if it is even a prerequisite for being fulfilled once you do have money. Money is also great when there is an unexpected life event, it reduces the stress caused by these events.
Congratulations on being FI and embracing ones’ inner ‘weirdo’, which I actually think is more about embracing ‘thinking’ and not being a sheep. They should make blogs like this required reading in schools!
Thanks SAHM! It’s a very zen concept, but I do believe that choosing less can provide many powerfull answers in life.
Certainly in my own life, once I chose “less” I found that I was far more content with what I already had.
Always love your perspective, Mr. Tako. Also love the term “wealth porn.” So true!
Thank Cody! I’ve been using the term for over a decade now, but never thought to write a post about it until yesterday. 😉
Agreed! “Wealth porn” jumped out at me as well. Concise perfect description that captures exactly what the image is about.
It is really interesting how the idea of “wealth” in pop culture is basically the opposite of real wealth – not just monetarily (showing wealth vs keeping wealth), but in how much freedom you have. In the pop culture idea of wealthy you are even less free than a baseline person because you have all this ‘stuff’ with its own costs and issues and stresses. You’re tied to your source of income. In your case your wealth gives you complete freedom of time to pick and choose what you want to do and when (errands at 10am on a Tuesday). It saves you time (and I imagine money) instead of taking those from you. Just an interesting juxtaposition. Thank you for sharing!
Too true! And I hate being tied to one single source of income!
Hit the nail on the head!
I haven’t gotten to the point where I no longer have a W2 job but I have toned it down so I get 1 day off a week and that is the day I do my errands which are so much easier to do when everyone else is working like you mentioned.
The flashy wealth fades, but the freedom that comes from wealth you speak of lives on. Looking forward to when everyday is like that.
I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. Taking your points to the next level, if you are wealthy enough, are you justified in hiring a personal shopper or assistant to do your shopping or handle tasks that require waiting in lines. You went from 2 hours to Costco to 30 minutes but a personal shopper would get you to 0 minutes. At what net worth does this become “rational behavior?” If you are wealthy enough, you should strive “to pursue leisure, education, building even more wealth, or other productive pursuits” 100% of the time, right? The awareness of this becomes more acute as you age because you realize you only have a limited amount of time left and you don’t want to waste any of it doing laundry or waiting in lines at DMV. Whenever I suggest this, FIRE bloggers typically react adversely as if I am a heretic but it’s the natural conclusion.
Your surprise at these hidden benefits tells me that a) you have never been laid off for an extended period and b) you haven’t/didn’t spend much time with your parents during their retirement (or maybe they aren’t retired).
Hi Dan. You make some very good points. If someone is wealthy and doesn’t want to cook meals, mow the lawn, or do laundry, then I certainly don’t take issue with that (assuming you can afford it).
Having tons of money means you can simply leverage the advantages to wealth even further. But there are also advantages to NOT hiring everything out to someone else.
I guess it all depends on how a person defines “productive pursuits”.
I just went on a guy’s trip to New Orleans with seven friends. All of these guys are multimillionaires, some have tens of millions or more. You were very accurate on most of how you describe their, and my, lives. But when it comes to the weird part, not so much. That fits me with my modest house and $7,000 car but it doesn’t fit them. They drive new luxury vehicles and replace them often. They have multiple houses with servants to tasks care of them. They dress in expensive clothes and shoes. They are not frugal but they do live within their agonist unlimited means. They see me as the weirdo but tolerate me because they like me.
My best friend retired a year ago. We were sitting on the train going into the city to see a play and she was talking about some of these things, particularly doing errands during the week and then tending to have the weekends as “enjoy home” days when everyone else is out crowding the shops.
Enjoyed this post. 🙂
Thanks Frogdancer! I tend to have the weekends as “home days” myself.
When I was a kid there was a popular show called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, and it solely focused on ‘wealth porn of celebrities. This was waaaay before cribs and social media. Even then the media saw the value in fomenting jealousy and wanton desire for stuff, because it gets ratings.
Oh, I remember that show! I always thought it was ridiculous how the celebrities spent their wealth. Why wouldn’t they invest it instead of spending on all that junk?
Very unique POV! I think weirdo is probably true. I know it’s cliche to say but it’s TRUUUUEEE. Normal is broke for some reason. I can’t believe it but then I realized without any need for proof…that I was weird.
The ‘no lines’ thing made me think. I had one peer who told me she liked waiting in lines (because she thought that made her special and “edgy”.) Didn’t care for that much. Time is precious.
Waiting in lines made her ‘edgey’? That’s really messed up. 😉
Well, not much to add to this, is there?
Albeit not a millionaire (yet), definitely already experience some of the above mentioned benefits of having some money.
You’ll get to millionaire status soon enough Cheesy! By then you should be well acquainted with the benefits! 😉
I like how you laid it out. I hate standing in line too. There is a lot less waiting when you’re off hours. I worked 3pm to 11pm a few times when I was young and I loved it. It’s so great to avoid the rush hour and enjoy life while everyone was at work. It was a preview of FIRE in my 20s! I forgot all about it until now.
I’m not sure if the weirdo factor is really beneficial. I find it hard to make new friends now. It’d be easier if I was a conformist and have the same aspiration. Other parents talk about Mercedes, the exclusive athletic club, and such. I don’t know what to say to them…
Shopping at off-peak times is truly one of life’s great luxuries.
And all hail the weirdos! I’d love to see a regression of wealth versus time spent wearing socks 🙂
Thanks for your article Mr. Tako. I totally agree with your points. I volunteer at my local school and try to help out with kids. It’s a lot more fun than my old job, which was extremely stressful and caused me to miss out on my kids growing up. Personal time is priceless!
10AM-2PM is the best time to get stuff done 🙂
I was noticing the other day that since football season has now started, a lot of my co-workers wear very expensive football jerseys and other gear to work on Fridays. I bet they spend $100s on this attire. It is like a game- who has the most and best Sea Hawks stuff.
I am one of the few that doesn’t dress any differently than any other day. I own no Sea Hawks stuff at all- or any other team for that matter.
The people dressed in head to toe professional team attire are the same ones going out to lunch every day and the same ones that I hear complaining that they can’t pay their bills.
I choose to be the weird one and I pay my few bills each month.
Well said! I found all those those advantages to be truth. No more needing to conform and keep up with the Joneses, no need to go to the stores on a weekend ( I LOVE mondays now), and my health is better than ever!
All those shiny things they show in wealth porn buys you very little happiness. You always end up getting used to it (and having had a designer purse addiction at one point, I know the high is temporary). But being able to choose how you live and who your spend time with, that’s lasting happiness!
I have it the best FI and love to do the shopping. I have finally leaned to buy what I need and pass on what I think I want. When I come back to that want most of the time I no longer need it, but had the fun of wanting it and knowing I could have have it if I needed it. That’s the fun of being FI.
Great perspective and I agree. I also like to do most of my errands at off times so I’m not stuck in the crowds or traffic. I’m much more selective with what I buy now too. I can afford most things but usually put it off until I really need it. I already have too much stuff as it is and many things are under-used or not used at all. Would rather put that money more towards maintaining FI and my freedom.
fortnite is life my brothers
I feel obligated to point out that excepting the first ‘how you make money’ and parts of the ‘being weird’ one you get most of these benefits from being a remote worker.
It’s not a bad deal if you can get it.
Indeed, it is not! 🙂
I like the comment about your car. Agree. When I was not wealthy, I wanted a fancy import car like a BMW, which I couldn’t afford. Now that I can afford such car (and would not have to finance), I don’t want it (too expensive) as my paid off 2013 GMC Acadia is just fine. I tell people “Money cannot buy happiness but it sure makes solving problems much easier.” Good article.
Most people probably have their own definition of wealth based on what they want out of life, but your points definitely relate to what I want out of my life. I don’t need a private jet and a ferrari, but I will definitely want as much control of my time as possible.
My husband and I leave for work at 640am and are back by 5. We live in the country. Having tradespeople come to fix things in the house has become a real ordeal. It can take us months to get jobs done especially when multiple visits are required. As teachers, we then push out all these tasks until the holidays. What you’re describing sounds like heaven!