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10 reasons I've chosen not to be rich

One writer outlines his personal finance values and explains that while he doesn't apsire to be poor, he won't chase the almighty dollar either.

By Smart Spending Editor Aug 29, 2013 3:44PM

This post comes from Jeffery Strain at

not an MSN PartnerMost people I know want to be rich. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this goal, and I can certainly see why many people would want to attain it. I think that’s why people find it a little shocking when I tell them that I have no desire to become rich. In fact, I have made a conscious choice not to become rich, and I’m happy with my decision.

Image: Money trap (© Mike Kemp/Rubberball/Jupiterimages)Why the hell would anyone purposely choose not to be rich? It seems like such an antithesis of everything it means to be an American, but I stand by my choice.

Whether others agree or disagree with it is a matter of opinion, but I have sound reasons why the choice I’ve made is right for me. Although my reasoning might not ultimately mean the same is true for you, I hope that reading why I have purposely chosen not to become rich might give you some good food for thought.

It’s important to make clear that in choosing not to be rich, I have not chosen to be poor. If I felt that I couldn’t do the things that matter to me most, I would certainly find a way to increase my income. It simply means that I have chosen to forego a growing bank account for things that I feel are more important than more money. Here are some of the reason that I have chosen not to be rich.

1. I value time over money

I value my time much more than I value the money I can make with my time. In other words, it makes little sense for me to spend time making more money than I need to. I value the time to do the things I want to do much more than I could earn if I spent that time making more money. Sine I value the time much more, as long as I have enough money to do those things, my time is more valuable than the money I could earn.

2. What I do is more important that what I have

I love what I do. It might not pay a lot of money, but it pays enough for me to do the things I want to do. I could probably make a lot more money if I spent my time doing something else that pays more, but doing what I like is much more important to me than the amount I make.  Having made the choice that free time is more valuable to me than money, it means that I won’t be rich. I have no problem with that.

3. I value experiences over things

I don’t own a lot of stuff. It’s not that I can’t afford it, but simply because it’s not something that appeals to me all that much. I value the experience of spending time with friends and family, as well as traveling and exploring new places far more than anything I could buy. While money is certainly important for these experiences, the truth is that they tend to be far less expensive than buying things.

4. More money won't make me happier

I make enough money to do the things that make me happiest. If I made more money, I might be able to do more things than I do now (although that would be at a cost of lost time doing other things), but I know that it wouldn’t make me any happier than I am now. I once read an article that happiness is found at approximately $75,000 a year where a family has enough to meet all their needs with a little extra to do what they like. Once these basics are met, it’s not how much more money you have, but your attitude which determines you happiness. I earn enough to meet all my basic needs and I know that being rich wouldn’t make me any happier.

5. Money is a tool, not a score

While some people look at the amount of money they have as a score to compare against others, I have never felt the need to do that. For me, money is simply a tool to be used to do the things I enjoy most. Since it’s merely a tool, there is no need for me to have more of it than I need to accomplish the things that I want to do. Now, I would certainly take more of it if offered to me, but since I value my time (as mentioned above) far more than I do the money itself, it’s not worth my time to earn more than I have to.

6. I value my freedom

Another reason that I have chosen not to be rich is that I value my freedom. I like to be able to do what I want without needing to discuss with anyone else those decisions. My current job allows me to earn enough while being my own boss. The freedom to be able to make my own decisions when it comes to work and play is far more valuable to me than to earn more, but lose that freedom.

7. I can live on very little

Over the years, I have done a number of challenges where I wasn’t allowed to spend a lot of money. What I discovered was that even with very little money, if I could creatively figure out ways to meet my needs, I was perfectly happy. These taught me that the money, beyond meeting my basic needs, wasn’t a necessary factor for me as so many people seem to think that it is for them. I have simply learned over time that I really don’t need a lot of money to do the things that are most important to me.

8. Personal finance is very personal

I learned long ago that when it comes to finances, it really does come down to personal choices. I don’t own a house even though I could afford to buy one because I would much rather travel to see friends, family and new destinations than sit in an office every day.

It’s not a decision that everyone would make, but it’s a decision that makes financial sense for me.

9. Money is over-rated

My personal opinion is that society places far too much importance on money. Since our society is based on consumerism, this makes sense. But just because that’s what society says is important doesn't make it so. Consumerism is only important if you buy into it. And I don't. So being rich (having lots of money to spend on stuff) is less important to me. 

10. I have enough already

What it all comes down to is that I have enough. In fact, I have more than enough to do the things I enjoy doing most. Given the choice of spending more time earning money when I already have enough money to do the things I love to do, I would much rather spend that time doing those things that I love. This seems pretty simple and logical to me, but I know there are a lot of people who seem to disagree. They believe that if I have the opportunity to earn more, I should, even if that means spending more time doing it. I disagree with them.

So the question becomes, could I become rich while still retaining all of the reasons that I don’t feel the need to be rich. I think the answer is yes. While it certainly isn’t an active goal of mine, there are definitely examples where people’s passions (the things they would have done anyway without any pay) have turned into a lot of money, and maybe mine will as well. That being said, however, I’ll still be just as happy if it doesn’t happen.

More from

Aug 29, 2013 5:23PM
Not aspiring to be "rich" is not the same as being irresponsible.  I trust this individual has achieved a lifestyle with which he is comfortable and does not feel the need to be "more comfortable."  Congratulations!
Aug 29, 2013 5:10PM
This won't go over well with American culture and its worship of the rich and money. But it's true that time and freedom are the most valuable things. Americans sell away too much of their time and freedom. Too much money and possessions are nothing but another trap, and most have their foot caught in it right now.
Aug 29, 2013 5:29PM
I agree with everything in this article. I've really been questioning the value our society puts on money. It's not lazy or being unrealistic to be content.
Aug 29, 2013 5:03PM
It is difficult to read this article as the definition of rich varies across society.  A person from rural Alabama may think if the writer has enough already than the writer is already rich.
Aug 29, 2013 6:18PM

Most american DON'T make enough money to meet their basic needs, much less have any to experience anything. Being rich for most Americans does not meen having way more then they could ever spend it means being comfortable. Yes, if all Americans were comfortable then they wouldn't be holding strikes at fast food restuarants and you would have way more comments, because people would have more time to relax and read articles. No I would say most don't mean billionare rich, they really just mean not having to work 12 to 18 hours a day and still falling short of their daily and monthly obligations. If we could all just work reasonable hours and not have to worry about having enough to pay the electrical bill then we would all be happy.

Aug 29, 2013 8:23PM
Quit putting Jeffrey down folks. He is simply more in control of his finances than most of us are. He seems to be confident in his job and that his income will continue. He also seems to be confident that his savings and retirement will grow as he expects so he'll have enough for later.

Most of the commenters here don't have the slightest idea of financial planning. Because of this, they simply can't believe that somebody else can do this. Well... this is proof that someone CAN do this. GET OVER IT AND QUIT PUTTING HIM DOWN!
Aug 29, 2013 5:28PM

While I don't disagree with some of the writer's comments (value experiences over stuff, money doesn't buy happiness, etc.) the overall premise of the article is misguided at best, a cop out at worst.  Money does not buy happiness.  Money DOES buy options, choices, possibilities.  It buys the option to chuck it all at some point and go live on an island.  It provides the ability to choose what, when, and with whom you want to do things.  Agree entirely that money is not a scorecard in any possible way.  It is a tool, but a very useful one if used correctly.  Cheers...

Aug 29, 2013 5:30PM
So you write a piece about not wanting to be rich when in fact you already are. If you have enough money and time to do the things you want then isn't this basically the definition of being rich? Try writing a piece about living on half of the income you currently earn.
Aug 29, 2013 6:04PM
What is "Rich?" "Rich" is a matter of prospective. I bet Bill Gates thought he was "Rich" when he was only worth a couple million. There are many people, including my self that have come to the realization that being wealthy does not make you "Rich", but being broke can make you "Poor". My own perspective of "Rich" has changed. It used to be millions of dollars, now its fully owning my own land (except the taxes) and being as self sufficient as possible.
Aug 29, 2013 6:07PM
While I can agree on many points the author makes, he is a goober if he thinks those things don't make him rich. Health, family, peaceful home, and enough money to pay my bills and some to help others are some of the things I consider rich. Also being rich doesn't keep you from being happy or make you evil...
Aug 29, 2013 5:54PM
This article would be more informative if we knew the specifics of how Mr. Strain earned his income, spent his time, and spent his money.  It would also be much more informative if he would have shared how much money he makes now and then made a credible case for how he could make significantly more money by changing his behavior...
Aug 29, 2013 7:03PM
I agree with the writer that there is a point beyond which extra money is just extra money to buy thing you may not need.  If you meed your needs, present and future, as he has, the argument seems logical to me that he chooses to spend time with loved one or traveling rather than earning more money.
Aug 29, 2013 6:19PM

The writer has learned that you can buy money with your time, but you can't buy back time with your money.  Once spent, time cannot be had at any price. 

Workers trade their lives for money to make their lives better, happier, more secure.

However, life plays tricks on the living and all your money can be lost, stolen, or forfeited by some cause beyond your control.

All that money represents all that life you could have spent differently if you knew it would be gone in an instant.  No wonder when one get old and is poor, one has to feel that their life was cheated from them.

Aug 29, 2013 6:04PM
While I agree with the general premise of the article, that money does not buy happiness, having money because of a family is my responsibility.  The author is probably single (guessing) and comes to a reasonable conclusion if he wishes to stay single and not have a family.  That being said, parents are respsonsible for their children and saving enough money to deal with unforseen hardships that may arise.  Maybe it's a medical emergency, a major recession with layoffs, or getting sued for an unforseen reason.  Who knows?  It doesn't mean that one has to be "rich" but I think one needs to be prepared and money is a buffer that can save a family from dire straights.  Again, it's the responsibility that we have to our family and we owe it to them.  
Aug 30, 2013 10:16AM
I walked away from a well paying, high stress position. I make less than 1/2 of what I used to make. I stayed with the same company but in a very reduced role. The benefit package is more important to me. I will admit I paid the house off, all debt off and put a piece away, BEFORE I walked away from the bigger money. My life is better now, I have more time for what I feel is important. Less wealth is good for me, but you need lifes staples{home, debt, etc.} paid for first I think.
Aug 30, 2013 12:30AM
A person can be rich in many other ways which is more valuable than money.
Aug 29, 2013 7:48PM
I like your premise, but you forget one important thing.  You have enought money to do what you want to.  This saying always stuck with me and it rings true.   "Money is only important when you don't have it" 
Aug 29, 2013 6:07PM
I would guess that the writer does not have a family to provide for. Having kids can change your attitude and lifestyle in a hurry. Of course, kids would also impact the freedom.
Aug 29, 2013 5:19PM
While I can agree in general with this article I don't think they really needed 10 items to simply say they were happy with the time versus money situation they are in now.  Maybe a one liner.  Sorry I spent the time to read.
Aug 29, 2013 9:49PM
I would choose rich. But I did not make the right choices. Not poor either. I have money to buy things. If I was rich I would not be on the internet writing.  Would be looking where I am going next.
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