Live Richly Without Money

Yesterday I finished my 6th triathlon race and learned yet another lesson from the sport: It is possible to live richly without money.

I’ve learned this lesson before, and I’ll probably learn it again many times over.

I thought to myself, “I’m living a rich lifestyle, even though we don’t necessarily HAVE a lot of money.”

The common definition of “rich”, which everyone is familiar with, is having a lot of money or valuable possessions. This agrees with the “simple definition” provided by Merriam Webster seen as the cover photo for this post.

I scrolled down past the first  page to see the “full definition” and was surprised to find seven more different definitions what it means to be “rich”. Only one of these listed money!

Live Richly Without Money - Full Definition

The other seven describe the feeling I had during and after the race: living life in a meaningful and fulfilling way.

I can see a counterargument that we need a baseline of money to cover essential needs such as food, water, and shelter, before we can even begin to say we live richly. I agree with this completely. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs means we can only enjoy higher level needs once our basic needs are met.

Assuming those needs have been met, I still find too many of friends and colleagues feel “poor” because they don’t have extravagant luxuries.

Perhaps, it is the constant bombardment from media that tells us our lives are missing their product or their service. 

We live in the most prosperous time in human history. We have healthcare, transportation, and entertainment that kings and queens of old would have gone to war for. We live in a day and age where we can learn about anything from the internet.

That’s why I can’t help but think we CAN and DO live richly without money.

Do you think we can live richly without money?

Master Distiller

18 comments… add one
  • Thias @It Pays Dividends Aug 29, 2016, 5:53 am

    You need money for the basic necessities in life but after that, it is all up to you. Money is a tool to live a rich life, but it isn’t required.

  • [email protected] Smarter Decisions Aug 29, 2016, 6:00 am

    Those who think they are “poor” because they lack luxury are going to be slaves to their workplace for many more years than you or I will be. All about the mindset and appreciating anything you have over those basic needs. Congrats on the tri finish! How did you do?

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 29, 2016, 9:33 am


      I had my best race ever – broke my records in a few categories (swim & T1). I also took away a lot more on this race on areas I can easily improve on for next year. Overall, felt amazing!

  • The Financial Panther Aug 29, 2016, 6:55 am

    This is really true. Sometimes all you have to remember is that even the most modest lifestyle today would be more extravagant than a president or any wealthy person had 100 years ago!

    Heck, a modest lifestyle in the US or any developed country today is probably in the top 1% of the world too.

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 29, 2016, 9:35 am

      Right! John D. Rockefeller would have paid a lot of $$$ to have the luxuries we have today.

  • TheMoneyMine Aug 29, 2016, 7:17 am

    Most of us are already living a rich life, just by the fact that we have computers running on electricity connected to the internet that allow us to be creative and connect with like minded folks. And not to mention that there’s no war or plague going on.
    And congrats on finishing the SIXTH triathlon, man that is impressive!

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 29, 2016, 11:20 am

      Yep – the internet and hot showers make me think I’m living in the top 1% of human history.

      After my first race, I was hooked.

  • Jon @ Be Net Worthy Aug 29, 2016, 7:53 am

    Congrats on your triathlon this weekend, I hope you were happy with your time! I actually competed in a “sprint” triathlon exactly 20 years ago and it was a blast!

    And to your question, if you think think you can’t live richly without money, you should go visit an underdeveloped country some time. You will see the awful conditions that people endure every day and you will all of the sudden realize how little money you really need to be happy!

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 29, 2016, 12:27 pm

      That’s a great point. Having been to Africa on two separate occasions, I can say that was one of my biggest takeaways. We often have a warped sense of value in our society based on those values being projected onto our beliefs. If we step out of the matrix, we can see much of the value we already have and hone in on what we really want outta life, as opposed to what is being marketed to us.

      Thanks for the comment Jon.

  • Financial Coach Brad Aug 29, 2016, 8:51 am

    You can live richly without massive amounts of money, but you do of course need to cover some basic essentials. This is a great reminder though that satisfaction in live rarely has to do with material things.

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 29, 2016, 12:28 pm

      Exactly! Once we cover the basics as Maslow puts it, then we’re free to experience deeper levels of needs without money being a prerequisite.

  • Ms. Montana Aug 29, 2016, 9:01 am

    We live in the Flathead valley, just outside of Glacier National Park. It’s absolutely stunning. The amount of amazing hikes, lakes, and outdoor activities is unreal. We have enough passive income to cover all our basic expenses, and it’s hard to imagine more money making our lives any better. Although some people would see a rather modest home and cars, I feel pretty darn rich.

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 29, 2016, 12:29 pm

      That does sound amazing! I know for us living in Chicago, we’ll often visit the suburbs and go for walks on the trails out in the woods and along the lakes. I wish we could do it more often, as it is very peaceful.

  • Matt @ Optimize Your Life Aug 29, 2016, 9:14 am

    My personal favorite definition from the list is “having high value or quality.” Money makes it easier to have a high quality life, but it is just one tool to get there.

    • Distilled Dollar Aug 29, 2016, 12:31 pm

      One tool amongst many, I agree. I think it is critical to figure out and to work on, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the other tools as well (such as personal health, relationships, etc.)

  • Michael | The Student Loan Sherpa Aug 29, 2016, 7:14 pm

    A lot of studies show that after a certain point extra money does not increase happiness. Money is necessary for some essentials, but “living richly” does not require a huge income.

  • Pamela Sep 4, 2016, 7:31 am

    Feeling rich is a state of mind, not based on a net worth statement. I also think that the less we have the less we have to worry about. So long as our basic needs are met (Maslows hierarchy), the rest is cherry on top. For example, if you have a nicer car than other, you have to worry about making the payments, theft, you may be more upset when scratches or dents occur in your car. Being thankful and taking the time to write down and meditate on what you are thankful for helps alot.

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