Why Morgan Housel Said, “Wealth Is What You Don’t Spend”

Spending is attractive, building wealth takes time

Thomas Oppong
4 min readMar 11, 2022


Photo: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Here’s the complete quote: “Wealth is what you don’t spend, which makes it invisible and hard to learn about by observing other people’s lives. Spending is contagious; wealth is mysterious.”

Morgan Housel is the author of The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness. I pre-ordered it. It’s a great read.

It’s on my re-read list.

Building wealth can be a long-term game.

It’s not just about making more money but spending less and investing wisely.

In the modern world, many of us are taught to want more. We want bigger houses, fancier cars, and a designer wardrobe.

But the truth is that all of this spending can add up and compound against us.

When we live in such a consumer-driven society, it’s easy to lose sight of what matters when it comes to wealth.

You can live a life of wealth without spending your hard-earned money on things you don’t need.

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

You can easily increase your wealth by not spending it on things you don’t need, especially if you aim to impress people you don’t like.

Sounds counter-intuitive, right?

Wealth is a relative term and can be interpreted in different ways.

The way I define wealth is money that you either have saved up, invested in long-term assets, or money that’s coming in without your direct involvement.

If we want to stay wealthy, we need to make sure that we are not spending our hard-earned money on things that are not important.

It’s all about how much you spend versus how much you earn.

Based on this definition, saving or investing even 10% percent of what you earn can help you become wealthy over time.

Ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” “What will happen if I don’t buy…



Thomas Oppong

Author | Habits, Philosophy & Psychology. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: https://thomasoppong.com