The Difference Between Being Rich vs. Wealthy


Rich vs. Wealthy – is it the same thing? Well, according to Robert Kiyosaki, “there is a difference between the two: The rich have lots of money but the wealthy don’t worry about money.”

As doctors, we most likely fall into the first category. We may be rich in the sense that our salaries are in the higher economic range, however, because of our expenses (houses, cars, student loan debt, private school tuition, practice overhead, etc.) and sometimes poor decisions, we have a tough time accumulating any real wealth. We’re also handicapped by the fact that we start along this financial journey relatively later in life.

Being wealthy ultimately has more to do with financial freedom. It means you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. It means you’ve either saved enough that you don’t need to work every day to sustain your lifestyle or you’ve built up enough residual, passive income sources that you’re getting paid in your sleep.

I personally don’t care about being seen as rich – I don’t need the fancy house or cars. I just want to know that I can give up some or all work whenever I’d like to, and spend that time with my family without any financial pressure. I remember reading somewhere that “wealth is measured in time, not dollars” – and I believe that to be totally true. If I ever got a tattoo, that phrase would be highly considered to end up somewhere on my body.

So, how do we get there? There’s no one right path as some would have you believe. There’s too much unpredictability out there for anyone to be able to project things out perfectly over the next 20-30 years. As I’ve learned, there are things beyond our control which come into play, like when you started saving and when you plan on retiring. (Check out this article on the subject and let me know your thoughts on it.) 

It doesn’t mean we can’t make detailed and smart plans, but I do believe that you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.

My simple gameplan to gain true wealth for my family has been this:

  1. Max out on all tax-advantaged accounts available to me (401k, HSA).
  2. Invest in real estate (personally own but also invest in crowdfunding & syndication opportunities).
  3. Put in sweat equity and hustle to build up substantial passive income sources (businesses).
  4. Continue to work my day job as a physician, but cut back as soon as these investments and passive income sources provide cash flow.

So far, it’s done pretty well for me as seen in my latest income report. I’ve started gradually retiring by cutting back a few shifts at work and that makes me feel wealthy.

My initial goal when finishing residency was to be financially free by age 55. If you asked me 3 years ago, it was to get there by 50. I’m now pushing to make it by 45. That’s in about 5 years. I know it’s ambitious but I’ve learned you have to set your goals higher than you think you can achieve.

What’s your gameplan and when do you expect to make it where you want to be?


  1. Great post. It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep and invest that matters. The focus should be on maximizing net worth (and associated freedom and happiness) rather than possessions. Becoming financially free at age 45 would be a fantastic accomplishment. Best wishes!

    • Absolutely, preach on! Yeah it’s an ambitious goal, all while living in one of the most expensive cities in our country, but if you don’t try, you won’t succeed like they say. Ultimately I’m just trying to Live Free!

  2. Being rich vs being wealthy difference is from the same category as being broke vs being poor. 🙂
    I like your post and your gameplan, wealth is like a mustard tree starts from a really small seed, or step, decision in our case – brake the rat race.

  3. Well done.
    I’m not sure I have heard this distinction before. I think I like it though.
    I don’t always feel rich. It depends on who I’m with. It is more of a comparison maybe.
    I usually do feel wealthy though. I have enough financial freedom to be able to change my work how I want, reduce it, or stop completely. Passive income reduces my anxiety or financial insecurity.

  4. Physicians aren’t handicapped unless they force themselves to be (frivolous spending, low savings rate etc). While it’s true they get a late start to financial freedom, with proper planning they can achieve true wealth. The road isn’t easy but within reach. Great article!

  5. The problem is that you never stop to worry. What you worry about differs, but the worry is always there. I’ve got some real estate income, and some business income, and a single digit (low single digit) effective tax rate, but there are worries and some days I wish I were an MD 🙂

  6. Well, according to Robert Kiyosaki, “there is a difference between the two”.

    According to the dictionary there is not.


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