'Being rich' is an empty goal, says the founder of a popular finance website - and too many people are completely missing the point of building wealth

chelsea fagan the financial diet

Courtesy of Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan of The Financial Diet.

What it takes to "be rich" is subjective - but for many people looking to grow wealth, establishing a target number and saving and investing until they hit it is one way of getting there.

But that practice defeats the purpose of building wealth, according to a recent tweet by personal finance site The Financial Diet.Advertisement

"'Being rich' is among the most empty goals a person can have," the tweet reads. "Accumulating money for the sake of a number misses the point entirely - life should be treated as a story you are writing, and money should be the ink that helps you write, not the story itself."


In short, building wealth shouldn't be about having a certain amount in the bank - it should be about living a life you love. 

"Essentially, I think in this country we put an enormous premium on the accumulation of wealth as an isolated achievement - the lists ranking the X wealthiest people, the constant focus on celebrities' net worth, the obsession with displaying personal wealth on social media - and this creates a perception that the number itself is in some way a goal," Chelsea Fagan, co-founder of The Financial Diet, told Business Insider.

She added: "The money becomes a competition or a statement of personal value, and as we accumulate more of it, we are increasingly in social circles of similar wealth which only reinforce[s] this feedback loop of net-worth-as-achievement."Read more: A self-made millionaire who retired early at 37 says there's a difference between 'living rich' and 'being rich'Advertisement

Money, according to Fagan, should be viewed as a way to facilitate a good life that provides things like security, comfort, freedom, options, and, occasionally, risks - not as a material to be hoarded.

"This is not only because doing the latter does not make us any happier or improve our lives in any way, but also because a societal focus on wealth-hoarding inherently creates a society which is more imbalanced and precarious, with wealth increasingly collecting and stagnating at the very top," she said.

She continued: "But so long as we continue to view the accumulation of massive wealth as any kind of achievement (and not the reflection of a meaningfully broken economic system), this system will continue to reproduce itself, with deep systemic inequalities on the societal level and profound lack of meaning at the personal level."Advertisement