Money can be counted in dollars and cents. Wealth is a much more abstract and subjective concept. What is wealth to one man is a burden to another.

What is wealth? This is largely a question of what it is that we value in the world. For some, it is time. For others, companionship. For still others, experience. And then, of course, there is the man who measures his wealth in cold, hard cash. None of these is necessarily more valid than the other. But if we do not know what it is that we actually value we can never have wealth.

Even when we decide what it is that we value, wealth can still become a burden. The famous life story of Howard Hughes provides perhaps the most extreme example of the pitfalls that come with getting everything that you want in life. Further, the phenomenon of big lottery winners encountering personal crisis and ending up quickly broke provides some insight into the problems that money as wealth can provide.

To be truly happy in life we must first know what we value. And we must also realize that acquiring more of something that makes us happy does not necessarily make us happier. The following quotes about wealth—what it is and how it can be dangerous—are worth perusing for anyone with an eye toward the good life.

Quotes About Wealth and the Different Ways to Measure Wealth


Emma Goldman quote on measuring wealth


“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”

– Emma Goldman


Bob Marley quote on measuring wealth


“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”

– Bob Marley


Jim Rohn quote on measuring wealth


“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”

– Jim Rohn


Seneca quote on measuring wealth


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

– Seneca


Thomas Paine quote on measuring wealth

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

– Thomas Paine


Epictetus quote on measuring wealth


“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

– Epictetus


Coco Chanel quote on measuring wealth


“There are people who have money, and people who are rich.”

– Coco Chanel


Benjamin Franklin quote on measuring wealth

“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”

– Benjamin Franklin


Tim O'Reilly quote on measuring wealth


“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.”

– Tim O’Reilly


Napoleon Hill quote on measuring wealth


“Remember that your real wealth can be measured not by what you have, but by what you are.”

– Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich


Karl Lagerfeld quote on measuring wealth

“You know there are many different types of luxury. Luxury also means having the time for yourself without having to live under continual pressure. Today there are some poor people who have nothing to do and others who are far too stressed – so that’s a sort of luxury too. Luxury is also about quality and about a state of mind. You know, you could write an essay on luxury – it’s not just about expensive things. They must be well-made and their price must be justified. Their quality must be impeccable.”

– Karl Lagerfeld


Alexandre Dumas quote on measuring wealth

“Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not what is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of fair weather.”

– Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo


Ayn Rand quote on measuring wealth


“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”

– Ayn Rand


Henry Thoreau quote on measuring wealth


“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau


Henry David Thoreau quote on measuring wealth

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.”

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden


P.T. Barnum quote on measuring wealth


“Money is good for nothing unless you know the value of it by experience.”

– P.T. Barnum


Elbert Hubbard quote on measuring wealth


“I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.”

– Elbert Hubbard


Sigmund Freud quote on measuring wealth

“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.”

– Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

Quotes About the Dangers of Wealth and How Too Much Can Be Bad


Schopenhauer quote on measuring wealth


“Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer

Alain de Botton quote on measuring wealth

“The wealthier you are, the more expectations you tend to have. And it’s when expectations are dashed that fury breaks out. The rich believe that their money will insulate them from setbacks and frustrations, and that’s one of the absurdist expectations of all.”

– Alain de Botton 


Coco Chanel quote on measuring wealth


“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”

– Coco Chanel


C.S. Lewis quote on measuring wealth

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.”

– C.S. Lewis


Sam Adams quote on measuring wealth

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

– Sam Adams


Edmund Burke quote on measuring wealth


“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.”

– Edmund Burke


Pablo Picasso quote on measuring wealth


“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.”

– Pablo Picasso


George Shaw quote on measuring wealth


“The surest way to ruin a man who doesn’t know how to handle money is to give him some.”

– George Bernard Shaw


Any Rand quote on measuring wealth

“So you think money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim you product by tears, or of looters, who can take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”

– Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged


Seneca quote on measuring wealth


“Wealth is the slave of a wise man. The master of a fool.”

– Seneca


G.K. Chesterton quote on measuring wealth

“Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.”

– G.K. Chesterton


William Gibson quote on measuring wealth

“And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew, with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human.”

– William Gibson, Count Zero