'Being rich' is an empty goal, says the founder of a popular finance website — and too many people are completely missing the point of building wealth

Courtesy of Chelsea FaganChelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet.

What it takes to “be rich” is subjective – but for many people looking to grow their wealth, establishing a target number and saving and investing until they hit it is one way of getting there.

But that practice defeats the purpose of building wealth, the personal-finance site The Financial Diet said in a tweet earlier this week.

“‘Being rich’ is among the most empty goals a person can have,” the tweet said. “Accumulating money for the sake of a number misses the point entirely – life should be treated as a story you are writing, and money should be the ink that helps you write, not the story itself.”

In short, building wealth shouldn’t be about having a certain amount in the bank, but living a life you love.

“Essentially, I think in this country we put an enormous premium on the accumulation of wealth as an isolated achievement – the lists ranking the X wealthiest people, the constant focus on celebrities’ net worth, the obsession with displaying personal wealth on social media – and this creates a perception that the number itself is in some way a goal,” Chelsea Fagan, a cofounder of The Financial Diet, told Business Insider.

She added: “The money becomes a competition or a statement of personal value, and as we accumulate more of it, we are increasingly in social circles of similar wealth which only reinforce this feedback loop of net-worth-as-achievement.”

Read more:
A self-made millionaire who retired early at 37 says there’s a difference between ‘living rich’ and ‘being rich’

Money, according to Fagan, should be viewed as a way to facilitate a good life that provides things like security, comfort, freedom, options, and, occasionally, risks – not as a material to be hoarded.

“This is not only because doing the latter does not make us any happier or improve our lives in any way, but also because a societal focus on wealth-hoarding inherently creates a society which is more imbalanced and precarious, with wealth increasingly collecting and stagnating at the very top,” she said.

She continued: “But so long as we continue to view the accumulation of massive wealth as any kind of achievement (and not the reflection of a meaningfully broken economic system), this system will continue to reproduce itself, with deep systemic inequalities on the societal level and profound lack of meaning at the personal level.”

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