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Why do people want to be rich?

Why do people want to be rich?

FeaturedStories, Musings23 comments

The question of why do people want to be rich is a pretty simple question. One which I’m sure most people would have no trouble answering in a matter of seconds. A nice house (mansion), car, clothes, mountains of shoes, jewelry, a yacht or maybe even a jet are some of the things people (in my experience) seem to think of first when they think of being rich.

All the wonderful THINGS

You’ll notice from the list above, or chances are from just your ‘want’ list when you think of being rich, most of it is stuff. People want to be rich so they can have STUFF! Lots of stuff, pretty stuff, shiny stuff, new stuff, stuff that’s more expensive than their neighbor’s stuff, stuff that makes other people stare at them with envy. STUFF.

It’s true, most of the time, when people think of being rich and the motivations for being rich, it boils down to stuff. Whether you want a huge house, with 5 bedrooms, hardwood floors, granite counters, indoor AND outdoor pool, or you want a pair of shoes that cost a ridiculous $2000USD, at the end of the day it’s all just stuff!

Maybe I should have started here instead

I know somebody is going to point out to me that the idea of ‘rich’ is relative. This is true. Maybe I should have started this post by explaining what ‘rich’ means to me. Being “rich” is very relative. So for the purpose of this article, I’ll consider rich to be someone who can quite easily buy a 3million USD apartment without second thought. Or for further illustration, someone who can do this:

Good, so now you have an understanding of what ‘rich’ means for the purposes of this article. Let us carry on!

We have been brainwashed!

I honestly believe that for the most part we’ve been brainwashed through clever marketing
and corporate controlled media to believe that “stuff” is they key to happiness. Just watch the ad below and you’ll see what I mean.
Own a house with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms? Well that’s not enough, you need STUFF, fancy stuff, expensive stuff to put in there. Drive a Rav 4? That simply won’t cut it! To be truly happy you need a Porsche Cayenne SUV. Certainly those Steve Madden shoes on your feet aren’t good enough, next time, spend 5 times the amount on a pair of Manolo Blahniks!

Music, movies, advertising, magazines, online blogs and almost everything tells us that we need expensive stuff, and lots of it in order to be happy. The result is that we feel we need to be rich in order to afford all this expensive stuff. We end up with a society that’s absolutely hypnotized with celebrities, how much money they make, and all the stuff they buy! Just watch the video above again if you want more proof! We end up with people willing to pay $1000USD for a pair of jeans simply because of brand name and the fact that ‘vintage’ is in now (and because nobody else has them).

Theres more to it

Ok, so maybe some people want more than just stuff, they want comfort. They want to live ‘comfortably’. Never mind that their idea of ‘comfortable’ usually involves having a nice car, big (enough) house and being able to travel anywhere, anytime in style. I can definitely understand that.


A conversation I had a few weeks ago with a friend of mine about how much money HE would need to retire got me thinking. Do you really need to be rich in order to enjoy all that? Do you need to to be rich in order to enjoy a trip to Europe, Brasil, China or the sweet Caribbean? My guess would be no, you don’t. Sure if you want the ‘nicest stuff’ in your hotel room, and you want the most expensive airline seats you can find you may need to have a little (or a lot) additional, but the fact is you don’t need to be anywhere near ‘rich’ in order to travel the world in comfort.

The funny this is

What I find a particularly funny is that people (particularly in ‘developed’ countries) work all their lives trying to accumulate money in order to live a relaxed life near the beach where they don’t have a worry in the world. Where they’ll spend their days sipping a delicious natural fruit juice right before enjoying relaxing swim in the ocean. Yet, those of us who are far from ‘rich’ who are in that very same position now, don’t seem to realized what it is we have. We spend our days working like good corporate slaves, or trying all sorts of barely legal scams in order to get ‘rich’ to buy a bunch of useless things, shiny stones, or any and all manner of other stuff in order to be the envy of the crowd.

I’m willing to bet almost no one, when asked the question “Why do you want to be rich?” thinks at first, I want to be rich so I can build a hospital for my country/state/city. Or, I want to be rich so I can fund the development of water new purification systems. Even less will think, I want to be rich so I can give it all away to help people who never even had a chance of living till the age of 10, much less 20, 30, or even 40. Very few ever think initially about using their wealth to help elderly people who can’t help themselves. The truth is most people, when they think about why they want to be rich, will simply think about all the “stuff” they could buy, and very little else.

So, if you disagree, let me know. What was/is the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re faced with the question “Why do YOU want to be rich?”

  1. NickMack says:

    Seriously? I’d love to be financially well-off so that I could:
    a) afford nicer things in life;
    b) afford to do nicer things more often for others;
    c) afford to give much more material wealth/assets to charities/the less fortunate;

    I agree with you, re being brainwashed. However, it works both ways. I’m reading “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” now by T Harvey Eker, and we’re socialised to think that being rich is BAD (filthy rich, dirt rich – see what I mean?) and so we shun wealth as well as those who benefit from it.

    I also agree with you re developed/First World Countries – the people there work SO many more hours than we do in Jamaica and they don’t have half as much time available as we would – to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour. In fact, the work:reward ratio tends to be kinda skewed!

    • Akil says:

      You started with “Seriously” which makes me think you disagree with some part? Tell me, which part :)

      I DEFINITELY don’t think being rich is bad. Admittedly anyone that knows me even a little will tell you that I’ve always wanted to be rich! You’ll also notice that I mentioned Porsche twice in the post. Why? Because I want one!

      The thing is though, is that for a lot of people (at least people I’ve asked/spoken to) being rich stops with “Stuff”. Cars, houses, jewelry, expensive liquor, shoes, etc…. They very rarely give much thought to anything else. Like I said, how many people, if you ask them, why they wanted to be rich, or what they’d do if they one a million USD, would say to you they’d build a home for kids, or anything of the sort. Try it on 5 people and tell me the results. (I’d love to be wrong on this one!)

      • Akil says:

        A thought just came to me as well… .clearly I don’t have the stats/proof, but my intuition tells me that, of all the rich people/celebrities/athletes…if you were to see what percentage of their income they spend on houses they never live in, jewelry they never wear, clothes they wear once, and compare that to the percentage they spend on ‘charity’ work, charity work would be a pretttttyy small percentage. Clearly this doesn’t apply to EVERYONE….

        hmmm maybe a should do a blog post on why is it ok for society to glorify spending money on frivolous crap, but then not spend an equal amount of time highlighting all the good (large or small) that people do….

  2. Robert says:

    Bredrin, one word for you. Capitalism.

    Anyway, apart from that or its explanation, the idea of being rich never used to be a real goal for me. Whenever people asked what you’d do with a million dollars (US, obviously) it would become an exercise in seeing how much money you can waste. Actually being rich was not a necessity. I wonder if most of the answers you got was the same.

    Now that I’m older and have to struggle to get the job I want and pay rent and bills, now I have reasons to be rich.

    1) Live comfortably. Not necessarily having a nice house (would not be refused though), but not worrying about the next rent or the next bills. Not worrying about emergencies or juggling whether I should eat one possibly good meal today, or two terrible ones. Basically, knowing for a fact that I have enough money to survive.

    2) Repay my parents. Takes a lot of money to raise a child to adulthood. My parents have spent tonnes of cash on me and I would be devastated if it didn’t pay off. Hell, they probably had to dip into their retirement savings. I have to repay them somehow. No matter how I repay them, though, it will involve cash. Even if it’s only taking care of them in their old age, that requires money.

    3) Start a company. There’s no visual effects industry in Jamaica. There’s a few people who can do good stuff, and there’s a lot of people who can “do a likkle som’t”. No standards and few established means of learning and not to a high enough level. The people who can do proper CG all learned abroad like I had to. So I would start a vfx company in Jamaica and hopefully help build an industry. That would be good for Jamaica in general, but, if succesful, should also begin developping an infrastructure around it. Even in the UK, one of the most common means of learning vfx (to film quality standards) is through some sort of informal apprenticeship. Not a great system, but a proven one. If I can build a company that can at least offer that, so people don’t have to spend a tonne of cash on sending their kid abroad that would be good. Especially since, at the moment, the kid who goes abroad has to stay abroad in order to find work.

    4) Charity. Yes, it’s at the bottom of my list, but it’s there. I don’t mean anything hands-on, mind you. I don’t currently have the empathy necessary to do actual charity work myself. But definitely funding it. Also, at this point, I don’t know what needs doing and what the priority is, but I figure I can always Hire the right people to make sure that good work gets done.

    I have no other use for money. I suppose if I started a family, they would come above charity on the list, but that’s it. Oh, and there’s my computer too. But that’s only with the leftovers, I promise.

  3. owen says:

    thats one ugly white car

  4. owen says:

    to answer your question (which i will steal) is that I want to be rich so that people will leave me alone and also so that I can buy the new mini cooper countryman!

  5. Fuzz says:

    Although I may be generalizing a bit, the idea behind wealth for the country/Hakka Chinese (the majority of the Chinese here are of Hakka descent) is to ensure the survival of your bloodline; hopefully ensuring that they had to endure lesser hardships in life than you did.

    It’s selfish and selfless at the same time. My father had this perspective and I share the same.

  6. LW says:

    Guess that’s why it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to Heaven? More money, more worries, more frustration, more temptation. Money is not the only way to be rich, but it sure helps all the other ways for sure. It’s a tool, after all. Just use it wisely and for good in this world. You can’t take it with you, but you can find a way to make it still keep working for good after you leave this world. Be happy knowing you will leave it in good hands. We really don’t own a damn thing; we are just stewards of what we’ve been handed.

  7. Pat says:

    OK I didn’t read all of these so If I get close to what someone else has already said, I’m sorry, but good for you cuz I hope that someone else might see it the same way I do. I want to be rich or at least comfortably so because I want to be free. now allow me to clarify. freedom for me means no worries. OK I know there will be some things that will happen to cause worry, but I mean the daily worry of, how to pay the rent, slash mortgage, how to supply a safe a place as possible to raise my family. freedom from the worry of taking care of that residence, IE the light bill, gas bill, etc freedom is not having to worry all the time about were your going to get the money to pay those bills. plus keep food on the table, yea provide healthy food for my family. plus school – a good school, private if that’s what it takes too make sure your kids are well prepared for life. freedom is not having to explain why Santa might not be coming this year. or trying to explain why your kid can’t have a birthday party, or shopping the second hand stores to try to keep your kids ion clothes that don’t look second hand. all those things that make your stomach feel like its tied up in knots, make you so angry you sometimes wind up hurting the ones your trying to care for. (no i don’t mean abuse, but sometimes yelling) I try to make them feel special, I know they are, but when you can’t even show them by a simple act of a gift now and then, or even a night out, and I would almost kill to be able to take them on some kind of small vacation somewhere. but anyway I think I’ve made my point, and I didn’t even mention the feeling you get using food stamps. If I didn’t think I would be doing even more damage to my family, I probably would have killed myself by now. there’s so much more to say, but I’ll just leave it as is.

    • Akil says:

      Hi Pat, I TOTALLY understand what you’re saying. I think there’s a ‘zone’ that once you get into it and you’re relatively comfortable then the question of do you really NEED more comes up. So, I agree with you that I want to be comfortable, that is, not have to worry about school fees, medical bills, food, housing, be able to travel, and afford ‘nice things’ (within reason of course). But after a certain point, i think the desire changes from wanting to be comfortable to out right wanting to be RICH. To have more money than they could spend, to be able to buy a 5 million dollar painting that very few people will ever see, and that sort of thing.

      But needless to say I agree with you, comfort is definitely the most important thing

  8. Tyge says:

    Let me hazard a scientific explanation.

    Darwinism means individuals have to be interested in efficiency. One side of efficient is lazy. Some laziness is a Darwinistic trait.

    For example, people tend to cut corners across campus lawns (wearing trails in the grass), because they are walking a shorter distance between two points. Its easier.

    Survival is partially about conservation of energy (food).

    If we had no innate preference for walking the shortest distance between two points, that is, if we didn’t care if we spent all day walking a very long route between two relatively short points, we wouldn’t be good survivors.

    The above would be part of the reason we would prefer to get the most for the least amount of work, e.g., to be rich.

    In other words, we’re born that way.

    Note: Just because we have a trait we’re born isn’t in itself sufficient cause to leave it unchecked.

  9. Robert Hyden says:

    Cause lack of money is a head ache. Money is power. I have lot of things I would like to do that is impossible to do without money. I want to see people using car powered by solar energy or water. I want to invent a time machine and I want to go around the world and go to the most mysterious places of the world. I don’t really want the money itself, what i want is the life that i could live with it. ^_^

  10. Pat says:

    Today I heard a story on the radio; I’ve read and heard about this type of thing many times. A woman often referred to as the poor old lady passed away, and left several million dollars to her favorite charity. I have often envisioned myself this way. I cannot see myself spending millions on a painting, and then hiding it away where no one would ever see it. (Though I know there are people who would do that.) I would like to think that I would get much more pleasure donating it to some good museum and be able to see many people enjoy it. I have toyed with the idea of buying and refurbishing one or more of the government decommissioned missile silos. Sometimes I think I would just like to get away, close the ten ton door and leave the world to do without me. But then sometimes I think how nice it would be to convert them into condo like apartments, install the best water system I can find, and have as many of my friends and family as I can talk into joining me move in. then I would have almost all of the people I care about close to me and we can visit as much as we like. I like to keep my friends and family close. And though I hate to think I have enemies, just people I don’t trust, safely locked out. But as my wife doesn’t like that idea, then I see myself hiring a Feng Shui expert to design the perfect home for me and my family, having it built, and living a comfortable relaxing life there. Oh I would also have the most awesome computer systems installed. I think the only real problem I would have, and do have is I’m kinda lazy, so I think it would be great to be able to afford to hire a combination chef, dietitian. To make the best tasting most nutritious meals I could have. And probably a personal trainer, with a really good gym, But hey I would be providing jobs that way wouldn’t I?


    I cannot be bothered to be rich – it is such a burdened to have so much money and so much of everything..


  12. daraf says:

    I dont agree. Can you make me happy with no money? Things that i dream are:
    – To travel different countries every month (not once in a year)
    – Spend my every day at beaches restaurants, night-clubs, concerts
    – Buy houses and cars for my family members (to make them happy)
    – Give money to my family members so they can buy what ever they want (it makes you feel proud)
    – Buy a house in Barcelona so i can watch all Barcelona matches live in stadium
    – More friends+More girls
    – More respect, more reputation

    So as you can see not all things are stuff. Can i do all these things without money?

  13. peepee says:

    Horrible, short-sighted opinion.

  14. i’ve never wanted to be rich. i’ve always wanted to be healthy and keep my freedom. i know plenty of people who own lots of wealth and property yet they are medically sick or always on the phone working. why? you will die soon and leave it all behind. total waste of time and effort. enjoy your life while you have your youth and free time.

  15. chonghwi says:

    my mom and dad are trying to steal my money today so I got to protect coz someone gave me 100$ but my dad is trying fucking steal it

  16. day says:

    At first I just wanted slot of things to. I fact I just wanted enough to feel considered middle class. And not worry about money for college. But my ideas started to grow, and I thought of all the things I wanted to do, and thought maybe I could do them. These are my new ideas… : be president,
    Use my presidency to get a country and own it ( a dual monarchy) (dont know what that is? I thought of it myself; it’s something similar to a democracy and a monarchy) and then travel the world to improve on my spirituality when I’m close to done with it all.

  17. LAX says:


    Keeping your freedom without money?

    => Money = Freedom (at least for me)

    Because with money you can decide to work a low paying job you might really like (I am sure you can come up with examples yourself), that gives you pleasure, without having to sacrifice for it (living less comfortably, not having such a nice car etc.)

    I myself would love to travel a lot, too

    Fund health and technology research – from developping better Phone-Batteries to combating viruses and even aging (!)

    Charity? – Yeah, it is on my list, but not at the top (near the bottom more like it – because fighting illnesses etc. is more important than trying to help people in countries where the money is just taken by the rich themselves (often used to buy weapons to fight wars) and never really reaches it’s destination etc. oh and there are projects in country (I live in Germany) that need money, too and it’s not exactly to help the poor, more like helping addicts, giving fathers better chances to fight for their rights etc. – helping someone 10,000 Kilometers away from me is not really what I would do. It might sound cold, but I’d rather fix the problems I can see every single day around me!)

    Of course I would afford myself some luxuries, too – like a a house (something that incorporates all the modern technologies and can stand alone (no electric bill anymore!) with solar, wind and maybe even hydro-power and all that controlled by a house automation-system…a smart-house!), a nicer car (mine is 13 years old…that’s nearly half my age!), a new phone (mine is almost 4 years old), a new computer (to render play games on – then I could use the old one to render my vids on full time), new laptop (old one is 5 years old and wasn’t the best of the best back then either), some new clothes (got decent ones, but I could do with some more…not over the top like a full walk-in-closet…) etc.

    And why the hell not? – What’s so bad about being rich, if you don’t become selfish (in the way that you thing yourself above less fortunate people)?

    greetings LAX

  18. John Templeton says:

    I am rich, but I live like a normal person. Have a regular house, even have a regular job… well part-time, because I love what I do. People around me have no idea how rich I am. The only 2 “extras” I have is an 2015 S500 CDI & an 2015 G500 CDI. I always say I got them “second hand” from a rich friend. I prefer anonymity to popularity. I don’t have a private jet, because I think it’s a waste of money, but I do travel first-class or business-class. My “most prized possession” is my library. I have a normal TV, which I use maybe once a month to watch some rented DVDs…other than that I like to read and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Why I am rich? Because I like a carefree life.
    “Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by tapping sandwiches all over your body.” – by George Carlin

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