I’m Not Rich, But Thanks For Asking…

I used to think anyone who made over $50,000 a year was rich. And for that matter, anyone who had over $100 in their pockets when I was 8 y/o ;)

But now that I’m a “grown up” I know better than to assume such stuff. Yes I think you’re a PIMP if you’ve been able to pull upwards of $100,000 a year, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re rich. Or that you even know how to handle your money for that matter. (If you don’t believe me, Google “celebrities now bankrupt” and gawk in amazement)

In the end though, it’s all relative. And personally I don’t consider myself rich at all – except maybe in love (awwww). I think I’m doing a lot better than the old me was, and a handful of others out there too, but I’m certainly a ways away to being generally classified as a person who’s wealthy.

Other people, however, particularly the more snarkier/hater types, like to throw notes my way along the lines of “what are you complaining about? You’re rich!” and my favorite, “It must be nice to not have to worry about money.” As if a) I didn’t earn every last cent I’ve saved, and b) I’m not allowed to complain like a normal human being even if I was rich – one of my ultimate pet peeves. And something I have in my notes to blog about one day because I firmly believe *everyone* has the right to bitch and let off steam every now and then regardless of their position in life. Even Jay-Z has 99 problems! ;)

Anywho. Every time I get frustrated at these incorrect labelers I’m reminded of the reasons I’m not rich. All of which I’ve come to accept and working to improve on, but all reasons nonetheless that hold me back from this state of wealthiness we all want to acquire one day. Which are:

  1. I’m the sole provider for our family of three
  2. All our income currently goes straight to expenses
  3. I have a beautiful baby that devours money every day
  4. I own a home worth $60,000 less than we paid for it
  5. And I live in an area that’s considerably more expensive than the average U.S. locale

Again, all things I’m okay with and know in time will get better, but still obstacles holding us back to that ultimate dream of financial independence. So while we do have a net worth that’s probably bigger than others out there, and we thank the Good Lord above every day for these blessings, it still doesn’t put us into a position of being “rich.” At least in the sense of it meaning you don’t have to worry about money anymore.

Anytime you compare two people/things/wallets, there will always be a winner and a loser in the equation. But comparisons like that don’t mean much unless your goal is to quickly feel good or bad about something, and then quit doing anything about it. It’s the easy way out, and why haters love it.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what others are doing though, only what YOU are. So compare all you want snarksters (I’ll admit, it’s fun –Β  I do it too!) but realize at the end of the day all change comes from within. And crapping on others won’t do a thing except make yourself stink.

(Feel free to quote me on that last line – just made it up ;))

[Photo by waitscm]

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  1. Free Money MInute August 12, 2013 at 6:10 AM

    At what point do you start believing you are rich? Is it when your annual salary hits a certain number or when your net worth reaches a certain height? Curious as to your thoughts on that?

    1. David Hunter August 12, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      In my opinion, I believe someone is rich when then can quit making money and live their current lifestyle for the rest of their lives. Oh, to dream!

      1. Free Money MInute August 12, 2013 at 10:08 AM

        I agree. Some form “no job required” in order to live the life you want within reason. I guess I wouldn’t consider it rich, but ideal. If I could simply live off from the money my investments made without having the work (unless I wanted to work).

        1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:25 PM

          I’d go with David’s answer too. That, or winning the lottery – whichever comes first ;)

          1. Evan August 13, 2013 at 9:04 AM

            Does that mean you’d consider all those FI Folks with a net worth near yours but 1/8th of your expenses are rich? I would think not (sure are has happy as shit though lol)

            1. J. Money August 14, 2013 at 10:45 AM

              I’d consider them getting closer, that’s for sure :)

  2. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle August 12, 2013 at 6:23 AM

    As a single mom with 2 sons in university and a gross of $49K last year I know I am not rich.

    You may not be rich right now but you are on the wealth track and you have chosen to live in a way that will get you to what I consider rich even if Scrooge McDuck still thinks you are small potatoes.

  3. Aimee August 12, 2013 at 6:56 AM

    People love to make assumptions about other people’s lives. A lot of people tell me that since I’m an accountant I must “make bank” (I don’t because I don’t want to work 70 hrs a week or shmooze to pull in clients. Not my thing.), or since I’m skinny I must not eat. My old best friend used to always find a way to make me feel bad for my academic accomplishments and good health. As I was reaching my academic and career goals and finding a healthy lifestyle she was still working at the bar (NOTHING wrong with that!) and drank too much to have enough focus for school or energy for healthy living. She knew her potential so her self esteem kept getting lower and lower as she compared our lives. This was the last straw in our struggling friendship. Unfortunately you can’t cut out mean emailers, but make sure you surround yourself in your personal life with people who can feel happy for you and allow you to be a normal person with feelings.

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      Sucks you lost a friend like that :( But I agree – gotta surround yourself with people who help bring you up, and not down. I’m over jokers who don’t add anything of value to society.

  4. Lance @ Money Life and More August 12, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    Shouldn’t your wife be headed to some form of work over the next few years? I bet that’ll make things a little bit easier.

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Yup, by this time next year she should hopefully have a job again. Doing my best to remember this is all a phase we’re going through right now and it’ll all be over soon :)

  5. Anne @ Unique Gifter August 12, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    I tend to use a definition of rich as being high income but wealthy having enough cash in the bank to leave it to someone/live off of it for quite awhile. We have a rather high household income, but are still knocking out liabilities and creating a padding. Pretty much all of our money is spoken for, for the next 2.5 years.

    1. Cam @ yourbudgetoryourlife.blogspot.com August 13, 2013 at 6:02 AM

      This is a bit random but I just want to say thanks for putting things in perspective for me, I have been feeling a bit down and frustrated because all my money is spoken for, for the next 1+ year, to know there is someone in the same boat as me kinda makes me feel a bit better, thanks.

      And I used to have friends who were jealous of the way I manage my money and they just drank all theirs while I furthered my prospects with money I worked hard for, and worked hard to save. (and continue to do)

      Forget the haters man, forget them.

      1. J. Money August 14, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        (Preach on!)

  6. Holly@ClubThrifty August 12, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    Having a high income doesn’t mean that you’re rich anyway. I know so many people who make a ton of cash and spend every penny of it!

    When you’re self-employed, nothing is guaranteed anyway. Also, having children as dependents changes everything. It’s not just about paying for electricity and food…you start thinking about college and weddings! =)

    1. David Hunter August 12, 2013 at 8:53 AM

      Everytime I drive down the road and see a BMW or other expensive vehicle I wondering if the have millions in the bank or are one payceck away from financial meltdown.

      Then again, everytime I see a beater car I wonder if the person is a mutli-millionaire. You just never know these days.

      1. Free Money MInute August 12, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        Consider that you can get a nice older model BMW for $5-10k. This may actually be a better decision that buying a newer model of another vehicle for $12-15k. Then again, if you see a newer BMW, it was probably had for $40-50k or more. I hope this person does have a large amount in the bank, otherwise, they are only hurting their wealth building potential by sinking their income into a nice ride.

        1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:38 PM

          I like to pretend they’re all rich since the opposite stresses me out ;)

  7. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living August 12, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    Nothing’s more annoying when those people who start making comments about your wealth then start asking for money later or assume when you’re going out with them that you’re paying!

    Everyone’s situation is different. My brother is pulling nearly $200,000 a year as a corporate lawyer but he’s also got six-figure debt from law school he’s still working on.

  8. John S @ Frugal Rules August 12, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    I agree, that being “rich” is totally relative – we know people who do not make what would be considered good money at all, but are much more well off because they manage their money well. That said, having kids and being self-employed changes everything and should make “you” more focused on managing what you do have efficiently.

  9. Mel August 12, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    99 Problems and RICH Ain’t One! Love it. Fact of the matter is, no matter if you’re rich or poor, you ALWAYS have to worry about money. I mean, even if you have enough money to be set up nicely for life, you still need to manage it. Sure you may not be carrying a calculator to the grocery store to make sure you don’t go over budget, but you have to make sure you are smart with your money decisions because like you say, even some of the richest celebrities have gone bankrupt because of poor money management. We need to all just embrace a healthy attitude about money and the snarkiness doesn’t show a mature and healthy attitude about it, rather the opposite. I’ve found that you get what you give and if you’re truly happy for others in their successes (be it wealth, happiness, good job, ability to stand on your head, whatever), then you’ll also receive successes in your own rite. That’s why I love your blog and others, because I like hearing of others success and there is so much to learn! Thanks for all the hard work you put into this!

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:41 PM

      Aww, thanks Mel! I agree that we have an awesome and *positive* community here :) Because people like you stop by and help instead of tear people apart! So big thanks to you and everyone here too.

  10. Debt Blag August 12, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    I’ve read somewhere that a statistically impossible proportion of Americans consider themselves middle class and that this proportion is constantly increasing.

    On the other hand — despite having a much smaller income than you and a net worth very far on the opposite side of zero — I feel very rich. I never have to worry that I’ll make my bills on time, am comfortable knowing I’ll always have a place to eat and sleep (Granted, maybe not the nicest food nor the nicest lodging, but something for sure).

    In that sense, I actually fulfill this thing that someone said to you: “It must be nice to not have to worry about money.”

    1. Sarah August 12, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      I wouldn’t be surprised. Pretty much everyone I know believes they’re “middle class,” whether they earn $20K per year or $200K per year. In reality, an annual household income of $90K puts you in the 75th percentile… so theoretically anyone above that point should be considered upper class.

      However, even someone who earns well into six figures can feel poor if they: a) live in an area with a high cost of living, b) are heavily in debt, or c) suffer from lifestyle inflation. It’s not always as simple as comparing annual incomes.

  11. Financial Black Sheep August 12, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    You are wealthy, but not rich. Rich is when you never have to worry about money, which very few people actually have the luxury to do. It’s the people who claim they are rich, but have no money that you have to worry about.

  12. Lisa August 12, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Wherever you are financially in life is based mostly on your choices. Educational choices, career choices, work ethic, ambition, whether to spend or save, and whether to live below, within or beyond your means. People who take personal responsibility for their lives and circumstances have the ability to change them as needed. People who point the finger, feel victimized and blame others will stay stuck in lack until they realize they are the only ones who can make the changes. Not the government, not society, school, etc. You. You are the one who can change your world. People who are “rich” have to make sound financial decisions to stay there. Its similar to women who gripe that movie stars get back into shape because they can afford personal trainers, etc. They got into shape because they put in the effort. Effort=Reward. Most people are conditioned these days to feel entitled to the reward with no effort. Who am I to say so? Abused child, homeless since the age of 12, first kid at 16. Stopped playing the victim and took responsibility for my future instead of using my past as an excuse. Have achieved every goal I have set since through ambition, commitment, determination, perseverance and hard work. We can all do SOMETHING today to change our circumstances for the better. It starts with taking personal responsibility and taking action!

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      GOOD FOR YOU, Lisa!! Very powerful stuff. “You are the one who can change your world.” – You’re right on.

    2. jim August 12, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      Good for you! Fascinating background. Maybe you should do a guest post about it. You, no doubt, have learned some life lessons a lot of people could benefit from. WOW is all I can say.

  13. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) August 12, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I agree with you on this, and you know, wealth is so subjective. My hubs and I always lament our high student loans but then we go out in Grenada and see real poverty and then have to count our blessings as you’ve said. To me, being wealthy is having that ultimate financial independence but in a sense I do feel “wealthy” already.

  14. Jordann @ My Alternate Life August 12, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    I’m definitely not rich, and I do catch myself getting jealous of people who have incomes that are much higher than myself. I make sure not to say anything though, it’s not their fault, it’s mine for letting my green monster get the best of me.

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      The “green monster” – nice ;)

  15. No Waste August 12, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Rich is a state of mind.

    But if people want to obsess over numbers, then I say, it’s not what you make or have, it’s what you spend.

  16. maria@moneyprinciple August 12, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Well, I am a PIMP and one of the things I had to recognise when we were in debt is that we are rich; relatively speaking. There are several things I wish to mention: a) we both work extremely hard and smart, and are very highly educated; b) it is not about how much you have or even how much you keep – it is about the structure of your rishes; c) I am not bothered whether we are rich, I want to be wealthy – and there is a very big difference in that being rich is about the material when being wealthy includes a ‘mentality’ aspect.

  17. maria@moneyprinciple August 12, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Oh, forgot to mention that one thing that annoys me like nothing else is the assumption that somehow achievement is more worthy if it involved suffering. What pish, I say. Achievement is achievement and smart people do it so that they suffer as little as possible.

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      Hah! I’ve actually never thought about it that way, but you’re right – I’m sure deep down people do think it’s more worth it when you struggle through it… very very interesting.

  18. Terry August 12, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    It really depends on your lifestyle and the area you live in. I live in a rather affordable area and make alright money compared to others, our situation is more complicated than that and makes us “less rich” than others earning less.

    Everyone has a different view on what rich is…I would say my idea of rich would be having enough money where I could do what I want and not worry about the consequences.

  19. Done by Forty August 12, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Thanks for this candid post about finances and perspective. I agree especially with the idea that your financial standing doesn’t preclude you from having problems, or the right to vent about them. It’s a lazy criticism lobbed by others, that the wealthy have it so easy…we’re all still people, in the end, and the real problems (poor health, strained or broken families, emotional issues) have no problem co-existing with wealth.

    And since you mentioned Jay-Z, this has been playing in the background while I work for the past couple weeks:


    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      Nice! Hadn’t heard that one before… blaring it now too, thx :)

  20. SavvyFinancialLatina August 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    I’ve met people who think they are poor, despite the fact they have a $.5 million house, drive new cars, go on vacation, etc. Honestly, being poor is nothing like that. Most Americans think they are poor when they are not. Americans are probably just broke not poor.

    1. Terry August 12, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      Good point. I like the distinction between poor and broke.

  21. Veronica August 12, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Along the lines of your last statement, a negative attitude toward people perceived to be “rich” only holds you back! What’s the motivation to become like someone you resent? Instead, ask people how they got to where they are. Chances are they don’t view themselves as “rich” and are constantly finding new ways to improve their skills and position to help them earn or save more.

  22. Financial Samurai August 12, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    The great thing is that everyone is middle class in the US whether we are rich or poor.
    This is the positive of an ever growing government with a huge support network!

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      Amen to that, brotha

  23. Michelle August 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    LOVE THIS POST. Now that I make a decent amount of money in “side income,” a lot of people have told me that I am basically not allowed to complain anymore. Hello, my life is not perfect people.

    1. J. Money August 12, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Yup! Every living being has problems no matter how big or small in someone else’s eyes. We all have the right to vent :)

  24. Mom @ Three is Plenty August 12, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    We have (very) high incomes relative to the national average – we have average incomes for the area we live in. I feel rich in that I make more money in one year than both my parents put together (a life goal of mine was to surpass my father’s income), but at the same time, we have a lot of debt and live in a *very* high cost of living area so I feel a little stretched. We could have made other choices with our lives, but we’re living with the ones we made, and it means that we’re “rich” to some people, and “average” to others. Rich is such a subjective term :)

  25. The Warrior August 12, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    I am a reformed finger-pointing-no-allowing-complaining-by-my-belief-of-rich-people. Coming from a not-so-wealthy background, I looked at those who I thought of as “rich” as being so well off that they shouldn’t have any problems. It took until my mid-20’s to not point the finger as much as look in the mirror. Instead of saying what others can’t or shouldn’t do (inc. complaining), I learned to ask myself what I wasn’t or should be doing to be where I wanted to be. That doesn’t mean I or others of any wealth status can’t complain, rather I just try to view my own complaints differently and accept others complaints as just a part of their path of understanding what they need or want to do better.

    Accepting that everyone has problems and to value everyone’s opinion on a balanced playing field rather than a wealth playing field.

    The Warrior

    1. J. Money August 14, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      “Accepting that everyone has problems and to value everyone’s opinion on a balanced playing field rather than a wealth playing field.” – YES!!! well said.

  26. C. the Romanian August 12, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Rich is always a subjective term and indeed, even the rich have the right to complain even though probably not about the same topics as the poor ones. In my opinion, being rich (financially, because I too am rich in love :P) means affording anything I want: in college I really felt rich when I had enough to drink my brains out three days straight. I honestly felt that I didn’t need anything else. Now things have changed a tiny little bit and I realize that I need a lot more to be able to consider myself rich. But at least I know that I am doing better than others who are less fortunate and I also know that I make a lot less than many others, which gives me the strength and reasons to keep fighting.

    1. J. Money August 14, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      Haha, same here. If I had enough to drink and eat in college (beer, that is), I was one content kid :)

  27. Demaish @ Borrowed Cents August 12, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    There are many people who make more than 100k and they do not live better than those whio make half that amount. It all depends on how you spend the dollars and everyone has a unique situation like you mentioned the responsibilities you have to take care of. There may be someone who is making same as you but has zero responsibility and so all their money is for saving or burning.

  28. Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies August 12, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    I tend to think rich is more a feeling of bounty. There are days in which I feel I have it all, happy husband, great cat, sunshine… =) And it’s those times that I feel richest. Not when I look at the bank statement.

  29. staralfur August 12, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    Not rich, not poor. We dinks live in San Francisco, both earning and able to save both for our retirements (30+ years away) and also emergency money. We’re middling, I know we are doing better than most, the same as others, worse than some however……we’re happy.
    We we were happy when we were eating pesto pasta 2 nights running as we were running close to $10 in our account and we were happy a few weeks ago when I was able to surprise my wife with a trip to NY and we could come back and not worry about our account balance.

    But that is key for me, I worry about money now, i worried about money in the past but as long as I feel like we aren’t struggling and that we’re happy – that is all for me. We are careful but not too much, we always ensure to send 10% to our 401k’s, know that we could survive a year with no income, and we’re happy with that (maybe when the big 30 strikes next week I’ll suddenly think more about it)

    1. Financial Samurai August 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Just being able to live in San Francisco, you are richer than 99% of the population! :)

      Fellow San Franciscan of 11 years here.

  30. Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa August 12, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    I’m not interested in being rich. My goal is for money not to run my life, not the other way around. When that happens, I will be happy.

    1. J. Money August 14, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      Comparing and *complaining/bitching/looking down upon because of success* are totally different things :) Comparing can help out in many different areas, the others don’t.

  31. Ryan C August 14, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    When listening to a NPR report a few months back, the same question was asked, “What do you consider being rich?” and I was fascinated by some of the answers, including “being able to go to the bar and buy a round of drinks without having to worry or think twice about it.” It really opens your eyes to what some of us take for granted and how a large number of our population is struggling in this economy. Also, how “rich” means something completely different to each person.

  32. Mel August 18, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    One of my biggest pet peeves is people who put down others’ triumphs. I’ve thought about this a lot since you posted this blog and it inspired my latest post, titled “May You Be Happy”. :)

    1. J. Money August 20, 2013 at 7:39 AM

      Awesome! Love the title so far :) going now to check out.

  33. MonicaOnMoney August 19, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    I think being rich is all relative! I love your article on how much you’ve spent on the baby in the first year!

    1. J. Money August 20, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      Haha thx! The amounts seem to keep going up ;)

  34. martha January 26, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    I totally thought everyone was rich who had more stuff when I was a kid .It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that having more stuff doesn’t mean jack. For some it means they know how to save,others know how to borrow,and others are in debt to their ears.In the end its all relative!

    1. J. Money January 27, 2014 at 10:32 AM


  35. Anon April 2, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    I’m 21 years and I grew up extremely well off but, both of my parents worked their butts off to get to where they are and have always been humble. They also taught their kids to be humble as well. As a child It never really registered that we were wealthy until I got older and you begin to pay attention to those kind of things. Throughout my childhood I felt like your average kid but, it was obvious that I wasn’t and I was (still am) very fortunate. I’ve always prided myself that I was able to make people feel comfortable around me because, I know that when you have money sometimes it can be intimidating to people. I believe that my parents humble backgrounds helped teach their kids to know the worth of a dollar and I’m eternally grateful. So long story short lol, I do believe It is rude to ask someone if they’re rich because money doesn’t define you. I’ve never once had an allowance when I was a kid, my parents didn’t believe in giving their kids money without them working for it. They also never paid for my schooling besides private school in grade and middle school. A lot of people ask me why they don’t pay for my college and honestly I’m glad they don’t because I have more pride in my academic achievements when I pay for it myself.

  36. Anon April 2, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    ADD ON:

    Another thing that irks me is just because you grew up wealthy doesn’t mean you have the best of everything. My parents don’t help me with anything unless its an emergency, so when people see that I have a nice laptop or whatever its because I EARNED IT. Saving as much money as I can is my main priority.

    1. J. Money April 6, 2015 at 2:06 PM

      Rock it!

      Really enjoyed reading this man (woman?). I find it so fascinating to hear from backgrounds of all nature, especially when talking about money. So thanks for taking the time to drop by and share :)