An entrepreneur with an 8-figure net worth shares the biggest lesson he’s learned about earning money

James Altucher
James Altucher says ‘money is just a side effect’ of success. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Airbnb

James Altucher — the bestselling author, blogger, and podcaster — has an eight-figure net worth, he told Farnoosh Torabi on a recent episode of her So Money podcast.

While impressive, Altucher went on to explain that he’s learned the number in his bank account is no excuse to stop actively evolving and growing as a person.

“At worst, money can make you think that your job is done as a human,” said Altucher, who is the author of more than a dozen books, including his latest, “Reinvent Yourself.”

“The first time I sold my company, I thought, that’s it, I’ve learned everything I ever needed to learn because now I’ve made money,” he told Torabi. “I don’t need to get any healthier. I don’t need to have better friends because now people are going to like me because of money. I don’t have to work for it. I don’t need to be creative anymore, because I was creative, and it made me money. I’m just now going to enjoy the fruits of my money.”

That line of thinking, however, was completely wrong, as Altucher explained on the podcast. In fact, as soon as he started believing he’d reached his financial peak, he lost everything.

“A lot of people equate net worth with self-worth. And a lot of people are convinced that if their net worth is high, their self-worth must be high too, so they don’t have to work on self-worth anymore,” he said.

He continued:

“Being human and reinventing is a nonstop job until you die or else you lose your health, you lose your creativity, you lose your sense of who you are as an evolving human being, and you lose your friendships, you lose your sense of how you should behave in the world around you.

“So money should just be a side effect of providing a service you love, providing that helps other people.

“Money is just a side effect, nothing else, and it’s a way to pay the bills, depending on what your bills are.”

Of course, money can bring you freedom, like from a nine to five desk job. But as Altucher notes, money is not a cure-all for your problems and it certainly won’t move you to the next step — personally or professionally — if you’re not putting in the hard work.