Rich or Wealthy

By: Tom Wheelwright

I have often thought over the past couple of years about the difference between being rich and wealthy. Is there a difference? If so, what is it? And how do we become wealthy?

Difference Between Rich & Wealthy
It seems to me that there is a big difference between being rich and being wealthy. When I think about someone who is rich, I think about someone with a lot of money. And I typically think about someone who is quite showy with their money. They drive fancy cars and live in a fancy house. They wear fancy clothes and eat at fancy restaurants.

Rich people come into their money in a number of ways. They may inherit it. They may win the lottery. They may earn it in a few short years as a professional ball player or entertainer. Or they may invent a new mousetrap that is worth millions of dollars. Or they may simply earn it over many years as a professional or a business owner.

But doesn't this also describe a wealthy person? Is there really a difference? I believe there is a major difference between rich and wealthy. The difference is in duration. How long does the money last? Will it be gone once the person's earning power is gone? Will it be passed on to future generations?

The simple difference between a rich person and a wealthy person is that a wealthy person has sustainable wealth. In other words, a wealthy person will always be wealthy, whereas someone who is merely rich will only be so for a short period of time until the money is gone.

Think about people in history who everyone would consider wealthy, and you can begin to see what I mean. The Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Campbells are all wealthy families. Their wealth has lasted multiple generations. Why is this? What makes them so different from the lottery winner or professional athlete who has money for a short time and then it's gone?

The difference between rich and wealthy is very simple. It's knowledge. Wealthy people know how to make money. Rich people only have money. Once you know how to make money, you can build sustainable wealth. The money never stops coming. If you have a reversal of fortune, it's not a big deal. You just make it back.

Think about Donald Trump. Several years ago, Mr. Trump was deeply in debt. But, oddly, he didn't change his spending habits and didn't go away. Why not? Because Donald Trump understands how to make money. He is a wealthy individual.

There are many examples in history of wealthy people who obtained their wealth through knowledge and valued knowledge more than money. The most obvious one perhaps was the king of all of the Israelites - King Soloman. He was extraordinarily wealthy. And he was extraordinarily wise. When he first became king, the prophet came to him and asked what he would ask of God. Solomon asked for wisdom. And throughout Solomon's writings, he lists wisdom and knowledge as the two most important gifts to ask of God. Wisdom and knowledge are what created Solomon's great wealth.

Wisdom and knowledge can create great wealth for anyone who desires it. Last week, a vendor of ours came to me and asked what he could do to create wealth. My immediate response was to learn everything he could about wealth. Once he had the knowledge, then he could begin formulating a strategy and work with a coach to build the wealth. But the knowledge needs to come first. Otherwise, if we do happen to get rich, the money is not likely to last.

I am most grateful to my mother who instilled in me and my siblings an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. This is the greated gift (other than life itself) that my mother gave me. It's this thirst for knowledge that drives me to teach others about wealth and how to attain it.

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