What Does it Take to be Rich?

Wealthy & Rich - are they the same?
Wealthy & Rich - are they the same?

To Be or Not To Be...Rich

 What does it mean to be rich?  How does one become rich?  Is it possible to become rich if you weren't born with a Silver Spoon in your mouth or even your hand?  How does it happen, really?

First off, I think we need to define rich.  According to the 2003 Oxford dictionary, rich means 1. having much money or many assets. 2. having or producing something in large amounts; abundant. 3. fertile soil. 4. (food) containing much fat or sugar; (color) pleasantly deep and strong.  Riches is included with a definition of: Wealth.  We will concentrate on numbers 1, 2, 3, and Riches.

In accordance with the 2003 Oxford dictionary, rich is defined as having an abundant amount of money and/or assets as well as general wealth.  What does this mean?  It means anyone who has enough money in the bank to buy a brand new car and pay in cash is rich.  It means anyone who is able to buy a house and a brand new car while maintaining a substantial balance in a savings account is rich.  It also means anyone who earns enough money to do these things, whether or not they choose to, is also rich.


We scrimped and saved
We scrimped and saved

What Exactly is Rich?

As we already discovered, through a dictionary definition, there is more than one way to be rich.  I am not talking about food or color.  I am talking about other, non-material riches.  Such as friendship, kindness, courage, and loyalty.  How does one become rich in these areas?  Forming and maintaining friendships is one way.  Showing kindness and courage when warranted is another.  Loyalty will naturally follow friendships, kindness and courage.  So what about money?  How does a person, a human being, become rich?  Or wealthy? 

Some say only the rich can be rich.  Meaning, of course, hereditary richness.  An inheritance.  I, for one, do not believe that to be true.  If it were true, the many immigrants who land on America's shores would never become rich.  They would never be able to improve their lives and would live in poverty forever no matter where they called home.  If it were true, Bill Gates would never have earned a dime after he first created the personal computer. 

There are some who say in order to make money one must spend money.  Meaning, of course, take out large dollar amount student loans in order to go to college.  This does not work for everyone.  There are untold numbers of college graduates with impressive degrees who cannot find a job in the area they hold a degree in.  There are even more untold numbers of college graduates who cannot find a job period.  These college graduates spent the money yet now are unable to make the money promised them.  Spending money does not earn money.  That is a myth.

Then you have those who say hard work pays off.  Meaning, of course, the harder you work the more money you will have; the richer you will be.  I'm sorry, but I refuse to fall for this fallacy as much as the next guy.  I am no fool.  I understand it takes hard work to get ahead, but it will only keep you there for a limited time.  Until the college graduate comes along.  Or the family name. 

Honestly, there must be another way.

The Path to Riches

 Less than 50 years ago I was born to a set of parent who had neither gone to college nor graduated high school.  My mother was a stay at home mom, and my father worked in a foundry.  My father never took a vacation, choosing instead to receive an extra paycheck once a year in order to get caught up on some bills or provide the family with a little more.  My sister and I not only graduated from high school, but have attempted to continue our education.  So far, neither of us has earned a degree. 

Did we choose to fall in love?  No, it happened as natural as life itself.  Being young and having grown up in poverty we understood it took a two-income household to get by.  Life didn't wait for us to catch up.  We had children, divorced, and started over.  Did we 100% choose our lives?  No.  We did not choose to learn our respective husbands were deadbeats.  Life taught us this lesson.  Life also taught me many other useful things.

Such as how to get diapers when I had no cash and my checking account was empty.  How to cut my own hair and my children's hair since I had no money to take them to the salon.  I learned to use coupons when going to the cheapest grocery store in town.  I never pay full price for anything I buy.  I wait until its on clearance.  I go to the food pantry when its time to refill a prescription.  I have one pair of shoes and will not purchase another until the current pair is worn through.  I get my furniture from friends who give it to me when they buy something new, or from garage sales and thrift stores.  I buy the cheapest laundry detergent, dish soap, and toiletries I can find.  I watch for and go to any free giveaways that will benefit my family.  In other words, I have learned how to provide for my family with the meager income I was capable of obtaining without a college degree.

Rich or still in Poverty?
Rich or still in Poverty?
I only had one pair of shoes
I only had one pair of shoes

What Does It Mean "To Be Rich"?

According to the 2009 Census Bureau a single parent household with 8 children is in poverty if they earn less than $41,476 per year. For a single parent with 2 children that number drops to $17,285. These numbers actually surprise me. As a single parent with 3 children, I have never earned over $26,000 per year. My lifestyle has not changed although according to the statistics on poverty, I am now considered to be low-income. The only time in my life when I bought a new mattress was when I received my income tax return 3 years ago. I still use coupons and go to the cheapest grocery store. I still cut my own hair and my children's hair. I do have more than one pair of shoes, but my second pair was required for work - I had to wear steel-toed boots. I still go to garage sales and thrift stores. The detergent, soap and toiletries I buy come in economical packs. I still don't pay full price for anything I buy - I can only afford to shop the clearance aisles. Occasionally I have to return to the food pantry. Teenage boys eat a lot! I am no longer in need of free giveaways - they are primarily targetted to families with young children.

When I heard the statistics for poverty I was shocked. I felt I had been living in poverty my entire life! How could this be? How did I end up in the low-income bracket? I am not ashamed in the least to acknowledge I am poor. For me it has been a way of life that has enabled me to hope and plan for my future. The only problem is, my future is here. My job of the past three years is when I came close to earning $26,000 in one year. I felt rich. My checking account balance never went below $25.00. I was putting $25.00 a month into a savings account - although I did have to use it occasionally. I could actually pay for my son to take drivers education rather than making him wait until he was 18 when drivers ed. would no longer be required. It felt good to be able to support myself and my small family.

There is one thing about life I will never understand. I will never be able to comprehend how someone who earns $100,000 per year or more does not consider themselves rich. It is obvious to me that any such person could never have lived through poverty. A person who has lived through poverty and continues to struggle with improving their life despite the many obstacles and roadblocks they encounter has the absolute right to be proud of themselves, and to consider themselves rich. Despite what the rich people say.

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© 2010 Rafini

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Comments 28 comments

Rafini profile image

Rafini 5 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Thank you Earnest. I'd have to agree with you, although I've never been monetarily rich. The closest I ever came was during a period of self-employment but a majority of the money coming in had to support the self-employment. I could have been very happy with it, except I was working 7 days a week on a split shift. It was great! Nobody to answer to except myself, but never getting a day off while raising young children left no room for enjoying them while they were young. I'm glad to be done with it, yet I miss it too.

Money - something you can't live without, but something you can learn to de-emphasize in your life.

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 5 years ago from Melbourne Australia

I believe your definitions of rich will stand the test of time. I have been poor and rich. The difference for me was that life is easier when we are rich, but not happier.

I'm been just as happy when I had very little money.

Money is just a commodity when you have enough of it.

Great hub as usual.

Rafini profile image

Rafini 5 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

There are some people who value morals more than money. So, it appears there are two types of rich - Moral Worth or Financial Worth. Which do you choose?

shahe 5 years ago

i will do anyting to grt paid

Rafini profile image

Rafini 5 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Thanks TC for the comment. Glad to give provoking thoughts. *_*

tedcampbell2792 profile image

tedcampbell2792 5 years ago from NY

Well said, and thought provoking.

Rafini profile image

Rafini 5 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Being rich means different things to different people, and people can always change their outlook on things. There was a time I would have agreed with you but now my definition of being rich means having enough money to live life the way I choose. It doesn't matter to me whether I earn more than minimum wage, as long as I live according to my beliefs. That is what makes me rich. Thanks for the comment.

wsupaul88 profile image

wsupaul88 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

Cool Hub! I have always thought of being rich as having enough money not to have a real job!

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Can't argue with you there! Thanks for the comment, dracaslair.

dracaslair 6 years ago

the way i see it.after what i went through on money that is.rich means you dont need welfare at all or help of any kind with money.

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Origin, the methods to become rich that you speak of are for monetary riches, which there's nothing wrong with. However, this article was intended to point out that monetary riches aren't the only riches to consider. Thanks for the comment.

Origin profile image

Origin 6 years ago from Minneapolis

There are many methods to becoming rich, such as investing, owning a company, inheriting, winning the lottery, inventing a gadget, etc. People need to just find one of those that they can do, and do well, and it can potentially pay off. Good read!

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Thanks for the comments, Falsor Wing. I only left out the following: 4. (sounds & smells) pleasantly deep and strong. Can't really come up with a reason, (except to say they weren't necessary?) Thanks for stopping by. :)

Falsor Wing profile image

Falsor Wing 6 years ago from Lodoss the Accursed Isle

I know the OED's definition of rich had to have had more definitions but I can see that posting all million of them might not have made for the most pulse pounding opening.

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Thank you. Glad you liked it. :)

Isabelle22 profile image

Isabelle22 6 years ago from Somewhere on the coastline

Excellent article. Really enjoyed the read. :)

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Strange how that works, isn't it? Many people (myself included!) think that more money makes life more comfortable. Maybe all it does is make life a bit more bearable? lol

mod2vint profile image

mod2vint 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Well I remember living pay check to pay check, then having things comfortable, now I would give anything to be living pay check to pay check again. I can't stand being behind the eight-ball.

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

I agree - it comes down to how an individual looks at life.

gramarye profile image

gramarye 6 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

I have been very poor in the past, now I have enough that I don't have to worry how to pay the bills, and that is heaven. I don't really need any more than that. I don't think poverty is a disgrace at all, but it certainly makes life difficult.

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author


I can relate although I was never able to consider myself anything other than "playing catch-up". lol

I also understand what springboard is saying. I think many people in poverty or low income can agree but just dont have the means to follow through - for the very reasons you stated. I'm sorry to hear your real estate investments didn't work out, but I think each and every person has to make their own decisions on how to "invest" in their future, there is no such thing as one easy way for everyone.

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Hi Rafini,

I couldn't stop thinking about springboard's comment. This is something I hear often -- why you need to manage your wealth: that's the trick. I can't speak for you, but my experience as a single mom, I had to divide each dime three ways, and considered myself a financial wizard if I managed to cover the bills. Sometimes I think people don't stop and think before they make comments like that. In those years, if I'd had a spare nickel, I'd be lucky. Life was about survival.

Later, I did invest in realestate -- a decision I've since lived to regret -- but oh well. Let those that try and tell you it's your fault for not building wealth be like water off a duck's back. They don't understand.

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Right on! That is what survival is all about. Thank you. :)

I do hope things get better for you soon. :)

Faybe Bay profile image

Faybe Bay 6 years ago from Florida

Rafini, this is beautiful. I have only in the last three years made more than 25,000 per year. Single mother, raising children. I got laid off in January and my tax refund went to pay bills. I had always, due to being poor so long, kept at least two months food. It is dwindling, as is what is left of the money, but I am making it through. We are the rich, my friend. We know how to survive, enjoy our family and what we do have. Not what we don't need.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Not most important, you are right. But it sure helps. :)

Rafini profile image

Rafini 6 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from Author

Lynda -

I agree. Financial wealth is overrated. Personal wealth in terms of happiness & being comfortable with your life is priceless.

Springboard -

I can agree with one taking risks in order to be rich, but I don't consider wealth (in terms of money) to be most important in life. Thanks for your comments, they are helpful in terms of how to accumulate wealth. :)

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

In order to become rich one must be willing to take on risk. Risk really is one of the biggest contributing factors to accumulating weath in terms of money. I don't consider myself rich. But I am able to earn money and put that money to work rather than simply spend it. That means I buy real estate. I make investments in the stock market. In fact, the best education one can have is about the stock market and investing. It'll pay far more dividends over the long term than any college education.

You can have the best paying job in the world, but if you don't know how to manage the money, you're no better off than the next guy. You just get bigger bills.

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

They say the more money you have, the more you need. Perhaps the difference between wealth and poverty is a mind-set. If you are content in your life, you're rich. I'm one of those who worked hard all my life, raised children as a single parent, gathered a few meager assets. Through no fault of my own, the real-estate market fell apart, my mother-in-law suffered many health issues not covered by medicare and her health insurance company went bankrupt -- well never mind the whole story. Suffice to say, here I am after a lifetime or work with meager resources -- yet we are able to put a roof over our heads, food on our table and pay for heat. For all that I am worth less now than I once was (considerably less) I have never felt richer. My life is full of meaningful work, creativity and the company of a good partner and wonderful friends. That is wealth. The rest is an illusion. Good hub -- much to think about. Lynda

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