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15 Quotes on the True Meaning of Wealth

Money. Everyone has to deal with it in some way, shape, or form, but not everyone has the same relationship to it. For some, it represents status, stability, and power; for others, it is a means to an end or a proxy for something else — obligation, freedom, expectation, or success. As Rebecca Johnson, a contributing editor to Vogue, once said, “Money is the opposite of the weather. Nobody talks about it, but everybody does something about it.”

Money is often tied up with the concept of wealth, though many great thinkers throughout history have made it a point to draw a distinction between being financially rich and living a happy life that is spiritually or emotionally rich. As a result, many of the best quotes about money tackle how it should be handled with caution: Accumulating money in the bank account does not guarantee a fulfilling life. On the contrary, making money without purpose can be disorienting, disillusioning, and dissatisfying.

Benjamin Franklin, whose countenance graces the $100 bill, had a lot to say about money, but one of his most memorable quotes addresses exactly this issue. “​​​​Who is rich?” he asked. “He that rejoices in his portion.” In other words, it’s not actual physical money that will bring a person joy, but gratitude itself. Below are 15 quotes that tackle the intertwined topics of money and wealth, in an attempt to understand what it truly means to be “rich.”

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.
— Epictetus

Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.
— Benjamin Franklin

Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires.
— Ayn Rand

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.
— Maya Angelou

​​Every day is a bank account, and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor, we've got 24 hours each.
— Christopher Rice

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
— Warren Buffett

Money is of value for what it buys, and in love it buys time, place, intimacy, comfort, and a private corner alone.
— Mae West

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
— Seneca

​​Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.
— P.T. Barnum

Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.
— Mahatma Gandhi

There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.
— Marlene Dietrich

Money looks better in the bank than on your feet.
— Sophia Amoruso

Many folks think they aren’t good at earning money, when what they don’t know is how to use it.
— Frank A. Clark, politician

It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.
— George Horace Lorimer, journalist

A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.
— Jonathan Swift

Photo credit: Nathan Dumlao/ Unsplash (cash); carolo7/ iStock (change)

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About the Author
Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen is a writer, editor, and community builder based in Seattle, Washington.
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