Some definitions:

  • Being rich is having money.
  • Being wealthy is having time.


  • Being rich means that you have to work for your money.
  • Being wealthy means that you simply sit around and money comes to you.

Anyone who wants to be rich has to work very hard typically by pursuing either some kind of career or by building some kind of business. Either way it means working to build upon something previously existing whether that be clients, titles, or simply a resume for the sake of getting hired at a higher salary.
Ask a rich person how hard he works and the answer will probably be 60+ hours a week. Some will work 80+ hours. Some will work 100+ hours. Some will work even more taking into account the time spent on rephrasing and picking the right fonts for resumes, memorizing interview questions, getting certifications, etc.

If being rich is a frame of mind, it is a frame of mind, where the marginal value of time is small. Time will almost always be exchanged for something else whether that is money, power, or fame. If time has little value, this naturally sets interest rates, for instance high, which means a higher discount rate which again means that the future is discounted and considered less important. Presumably the idea of a rich person is that this can always be compensated for by more work.

The wealthy frame of mind prioritizes times and so the marginal value of time is high. It is very hard to entice a wealthy person to spend time in exchange for money, etc. The time preferences of a wealthy person is high. This means that the future is not discounted. A wealthy person will not mess things up because he will not want to work to ‘correct’ the mess later on. A wealthy person takes care of things whereas a rich person would just want to replace them.

In comparison with the 100 hour weeks of the rich people of our world, people in hunter gather societies work an average of 15 hours a week; being well fed, sheltered, and satisfied, and with a wealthy frame of mind, they are difficult to get to work and thus come across as being lazy to the rich frame of mind. They also take care not to destroy their environment. In such a society, age is valued because it takes time to learn the ways of the hunt, etc.
In contrast, most of the modern world’s people have a rich frame of mind and thus would probably not take well to this post. In a rich society, youth is valued, because work requires energy rather than wisdom. A rich society does not take take of its environment because it intends to replace it with a new one.

Of course, today there is no reason to work as much as 15 hours a week. Being more technologically advanced, a wealthy person needs much less work these days as demonstrated here. As a wealthy person, the marginal value of work vs time is such that I would only work if my work somehow saves me more time than I put into the work; that is, if it increases my leisure time Finding a more optimal or efficient way of doing something is worthwhile. Finding a way to make money is somewhat irrelevant unless of course the money can be used to increase efficiency; financial independence is one such efficiency made possible by the stock market, but other methods exist.

Of course one method is to find a way to get paid for one’s leisure time, that is, finding some activity that pays but which one would do anyway even if not getting paid. This often means making a few compromises (such as being engaged at particular times) and so those count as work. Of course not all leisure activities are paid this way; in fact, it is usually only the best of the best that get paid; and not all leisure activities remain that way. Ice cream eating, for example, becomes much less pleasant after cone number five. So it seems to be with “passionate work”—in fact one way to ruin your passion, Pavlovian style, may be to associate it with work. Sadly, because of its short term benefit, this is often done in today’s career market.

Originally posted 2010-02-14 19:29:05.