Why Unmaterialistic People Should Want to Get Rich

Imagine a greedy old miser, nearing the end of his life. For years he shunned friends and family to amass a fortune, but now, in old age, he sits alone in an empty mansion, cursing himself for missing out on the truly important things in life. No one wants to end up like him. We want to enjoy the love of our family and friends. Only materialistic people with skewed priorities care about being rich. Right?

The burden of acquiring money weighs heavily on anyone without it. People don’t go to work because they like it. They go because without money their families will have nowhere to live and nothing to eat. Without money you have no clothes, no food, no shelter, no life. For money we trade the bulk of our waking hours, 5 days a week, until old age renders us incapable.

Money isn’t everything, but it comes damn close. So with all these reasons to want money, why is the drive become rich associated with greed, selfishness, and materialism?

Why Money Arouses Greed and Resentment

What is the first image ‘rich man’ brings to mind? Think Disney, think Christmas, think Scrooge. Since before we could read we’ve been fed images of greedy misers abusing the helpless and kind hearted poor. Scrooge is only one instance of this popular archetype. Scan your mind for villains and you’ll find that ‘greedy rich man’ is the finest. Nothing inspires resentment better than someone with abundance who craves more, more, MORE.

But this isn’t reality. Real villains are few and far between and as likely to be poor as rich. Money is inherently neutral. The greed that inspires evil deeds originates not in money, but in the perpetrator. Money is as good or bad as the force that wields it.

In addition to media portrayals, there are more tangible reasons that richness inspires resentment. The greatest of these is the division of classes. While some people have relationships with both rich and poor, most don’t. You have your team and you stick to it. Even though most rich people are good folks, some are downright horrible. These spoiled brats (No one cares who your daddy is, and you’re making him look like a fool) create the resentment that spreads to all richness. The relationship between rich and poor is a toxic mixture of hatred and envy; people are forced to pick sides, and as Steve Olson explained, the outcome isn’t pretty.

There is also the wretched plague of materialism. The worst offenders aren’t the rich, but those who live beyond their means. The people going into debt to buy big houses, luxury cars, and plasma T.V.s. It isn’t about what you have, but what you can show. These fools want to be rich for shallow despicable reasons. Unmaterialistic people associate this idiocy with the desire to be rich and label the pursuit of the money unfulfilling. I was a member of this group of unmaterialists until I began to consider money and the nature of employment in a different light.

You Can Buy Time

The popular saying ‘you can’t buy time’ is blatantly false. Employers buy time everyday when they exchange money for labor. You may not be able to buy back time that has already passed, but you can certainly prevent yourself from having to sell your time in the future. Only the rich are able to avoid selling their time for money on a daily basis. Without the pressure to trade time for money, rich people are free to enjoy their lives however they please. If you take nothing else from this article, remember that money is freedom.

This realization led to the formation of my primary life goal: to become independently wealthy. By nature I am not a materialistic person. I care little for extravagance and the admiration of others. My favorite past times are the outdoors, basketball, reading, and collecting books. Old, used books, that generally cost less than a dollar, are more precious to me than any high tech gadgetry. But there is one valuable commodity that I prize above all others. Time.

When I started working full time 7 months ago I realized what it really meant to sell my time. I’m not complaining about my job. It pays well, affords decent hours, and the people are great. The problem is having to be there all the time. Call me ungrateful, but I don’t want just a good life, I want the best life I can muster, and that means having control of my own time.

Making Money Helps Other

After you buy something how do you usually feel? Unless you have spent foolishly and have buyer’s remorse you probably feel good. This is because have acquired something worth more to you than the money you paid for it. Commerce is an exchange of values. The merchant gets your money and you get wonderful commodities. Everyone is happy. If you weren’t happy you’d buy from someone else, which is why companies that don’t provide value go out of business. The success someone has is a direct indication of the value they provide to others.

Becoming rich doesn’t mean working long hours at a job you hate. Many people believe that becoming wealthy requires a high paying job i.e. doctor, lawyer, banker, executive etc. This may be the most certain path, but it isn’t the only one. There are unlimited ways to provide value to others, and the more creative ones are the most explosively successful. Don’t resign yourself to being poor just because these professions don’t fit. If you don’t like something you will never be great at doing it. The key is finding something you love that provides value to others.

You are currently witnessing my first foray into the world of independent value creation. I don’t expect this site to make me rich overnight, but it’s my first attempt at using my passions and abilities to create value. You may say I’m an optimistic fool, but each minute I work on this site I learn more about business and sharpen my creative abilities. Plus, it’s also very fun!

If you want to make the most of your life and attain personal freedom, becoming rich is a goal we both share. Don’t resign yourself to trading time for money just because that’s what most people do. Don’t wait to get going. Start working now. It’s going to be hard and you will need to make sacrifices, but don’t be discouraged. You have everything to gain, all you have to lose is your time.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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