Not to be confused: Money, wealth, and value

Money, wealth, and value are often confused, as they may be correlated. Having a clear idea of what they are and their differences is important to avoid mistakes that can lead to not having any.

Checking the definitions in the dictionary for wealth, money, and value is easy. Confusing them is also easy, as they may be correlated with wealth helping to make money and money being means for the goal of being wealthy. Money being the way to measure economic value, and wealth being equivalent to economic value.

Being aware of the differences is important, though. In a very short description:

  • Money is what we exchange for other stuff, it does not have a fundamental value, only exchange value, which is determined arbitrarily (speculatively and inter-subjectively). Most money is inflationary, on purpose, this increases its velocity, as it is better used to buy goods that increase wealth in better ways (e.g. according to inflation). It is more useful that way. Bitcoin is said to be deflationary (it increases its value over time, HODL!), making it more suitable to store economic value at the cost of being less suitable for transactions, other cryptocurrencies can do that, assuming it is feasible for a cryptocurrency.
  • Wealth are the things that we have, we can acquire and sell, and are useful or valuable for us. They have a fundamental value. For example assets, which give us money, and liabilities, which have a cost. The fundamental value of an asset may just be in the money that it produces. The fundamental value of a liability may be range from fun and entertainment to basic needs like the shelter of our homes. The fundamental value of something may not be equal to the seller than to the buyer, and transactions happen. Sometimes, the fundamental value of something is greater for the seller than for the buyer, but the seller has a greater need for the money, that is not the happy side of economy.
  • Value is what axiology, a branch of philosophy, has been studying for a century (it is a Greek term, but not very old). If your eyes work and allow you to see, they are extremely valuable, but they are not exchangeable yet (perhaps even more valuable because of that). Therefore, eyes do not have an economic value, they are not taxable, and they are not considered wealth. Nevertheless, neglecting your health after not perceiving any economic value in it would be a terrible mistake, especially because getting it back is very likely to be impossible.

When speaking about value, people often consider only economic value. Certainly it is the most common to discuss, precisely because it is the easiest to get and lose, the most usual to fluctuate in our lives, and one that gets a lot of attention. Nevertheless, the things with economic value are irrelevant and meaningless when compared with really valuable things, often considered “invaluable”.

 Stay focused on what is important.


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