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Rich vs Wealthy vs Self-Sustaining               

There seems to be some confusion and debate about the difference between being rich and being wealthy.  In Chris Rock’s Never Scared (2004) comedy special, he gave an example of the difference between being rich and being wealthy.  Chris Rock said “Shaq is rich.  The white man that signs his check is wealthy.”  Others have defined rich as having money to buy luxury items but isn’t sustainable while wealthy is having money that will last from generation-to-generation, and is virtually indestructible.  So I’ve decided to step in and put my two cents in on this subject, but I’m going to also add another complexity to it by introducing another mechanism, and that is self-sustainability. 

Rich and Wealthy

If you look up the definition of rich, it is almost the exact same definition as wealthy, which is having a great deal of money or assets.  The only difference is that the definition for wealthy includes resources as a defining attribute.  The problem with both of these terms is that they are both used interchangeably, and that is because they really are the same thing from a definition standpoint.  People have elevated the term wealthy to a more elite status.  The second issue with both of these terms is that they both are literally unquantifiable.  For example, who is to say that a person that has $800,000, owns a small house free and clear and lives a simple life can’t make this money stretch across generations by living off just the interest and other investments; thus, qualifying a person with $800,000 as being wealthy.  Everyone has an opinion of the differences between the terms rich and wealthy, but no one can give you a quantifiable demarcation between the two.  That’s because the terms are literally one in the same.


Another term to consider is self-sustaining.  By definition, a person that is self-sustaining is able to continue in a healthy state without outside assistance.  The term self-sustaining can live both inside and outside of a financial model, and can be measured.  If a person can provide the basic necessities for life - food, water, shelter - then that person is self-sustainable.  There is no ambiguity with the term self-sustaining.

I believe that self-sustainability will be the future mindset that people will move to.  In fact, A. J. Smith 365 has dedicated a whole publication to it called PASS is the New Wealth Model.

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