Understanding Affluence: How Do You Know That You're Rich?

June 1, 2023 | 


Joanna Newman



Wealth, a concept often conflated with absolute values and bank account figures, is a fluid notion that goes beyond simple financial abundance. True wealth encompasses a variety of factors ranging from financial freedom and security to personal happiness and life fulfillment. This discussion aims to dissect these factors and help you discern if you are indeed ´rich´.

Unraveling Wealth: Monetary Metrics

Unquestionably, the first parameter that comes to mind when contemplating wealth is the monetary measure. This monetary wealth is commonly associated with a high net worth, which refers to the total value of your financial and non-financial assets minus any outstanding debts. This includes everything from your cash in the bank, investments, real estate, to other valuable assets.

Yet, defining the wealth threshold is a complex task given the global economic diversity. A person deemed wealthy in one region might not hold the same status elsewhere. In 2021, an individual with a net worth of $4.4 million was considered to be within the top 1% globally. However, this figure fluctuates significantly when comparing different geographical locations.

For instance, in the United States, one might need a net worth of $10 million or more to be categorized as ´rich´, while in other parts of the world, a much lower figure may suffice. The relative wealth metric is deeply influenced by the cost of living and economic conditions of a particular region. Understanding where you fit in these monetary terms in your geographical and economic context can provide some insights into your wealth status.

Wealth Beyond Dollars: The Wealth of Time

Arguably, wealth extends beyond financial metrics into a more esoteric realm that is often overlooked: the wealth of time. Do you have the luxury to manage your time as per your wishes? Can you engage in activities that bring you joy without being stressed about making ends meet? If the answer is ´yes´, you might be richer than you think.

Time is a non-renewable resource, and having control over it signifies an unparalleled form of wealth. The ability to take a vacation at will, spend quality time with family and friends, or simply enjoy a moment of solitude under the open sky are indicative of the wealth of time. This dimension of wealth radically reshapes the conventional understanding of being rich, emphasizing life quality over monetary metrics.

Financial Freedom: The Freedom to Choose

Financial freedom is another key determinant of wealth. This concept refers to the capacity to make choices without financial constraints. Can you make life decisions—like changing careers, starting a business, or moving to another country—without worrying about financial repercussions? If so, this might be an indication of your wealth.

Financial freedom can also translate to the ability to weather life’s storms without undue stress. Do you have a safety net that can handle emergencies or unforeseen expenses? This level of security, often embodied in robust savings or insurance, is an indicator of financial wellness and, consequently, wealth.

Wealth in Health

The old adage, "Health is wealth," is a profound truth. No amount of money can buy good health, and in its absence, the joy of the highest riches can be tarnished. Being rich, therefore, also pertains to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, having access to quality medical care, and the resources to cater to your well-being.

A rich person can afford not only to take care of their physical health through nutritious food and exercise but also to invest in their mental well-being. Are you able to ensure routine health checks, engage in activities that bring mental peace, and address any health concerns promptly? The ability to do so indicates a wealth that is both vital and precious.

Wealth of Relationships

Humans, by nature, are social beings. A rich life is often surrounded by nurturing relationships and supportive social connections. Do you have loved ones who offer emotional support, and guidance, and enrich your life with their presence? If so, you are indeed wealthy.

In many cultures around the world, the wealth of relationships often supersedes material wealth. The ability to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships with family, friends, and the community reflects a wealth that money can´t buy, contributing significantly to overall life satisfaction and happiness.


In sum, being rich is not solely about the numbers displayed on your bank account. While money is a critical element of wealth, it is equally important to take into account factors like the wealth of time, financial freedom, health, and relationships. These parameters collectively constitute a comprehensive wealth matrix that provides a holistic view of your ´richness´. Understanding and acknowledging these dimensions can lead to a greater sense of gratitude for what you have and a richer, more fulfilling life.

Remember, you are truly rich when you can afford the things money can´t buy.