When most people think of wealth, they think of money, possessions, and other forms of tangible assets. But what about non-material wealth? What is that exactly? And how can you achieve it? 

Here are the differences between Material and non-material wealth, and which one is ultimately more valuable. 

Defining the differences between material wealth vs non-material wealth

Before we decide on how to decide which one is more valuable, we need to define material wealth and non-material wealth

Material wealth is basically what most people think of when they hear the word “wealth”. It is a person's assets and possessions that have a tangible value.

Examples of non-material wealth: Relationships, experiences, and emotions. 

It doesn't have a tangible value, but it is still valuable nonetheless. This can also be in the form of patents, intellectual property, copyrights, and other lawful authority. They do not physically exist but can have benefits and value. 

Material wealth has been the go-to definition of “wealth” for so long that it is hard to even imagine a different definition of the word. 

Material wealth may be the more tangible form of wealth, but it is not the same as non-material wealth. 

Examples of material wealth include things like: Money in the bank, cars, houses, clothing, jewelry, art, etc. 

Benefits of pursuing material wealth vs non-material wealth 

The pursuit of material wealth is often criticized by many. However, there are some clear benefits which include: 

Comfortable living standards: Being able to afford a nice home and car as well as other things that will improve your quality of living such as vacations or entertainment systems for example.

Helpful collateral: Pursing material wealth for someone who is struggling financially because they can utilize it as an asset to unlock more opportunities like collateral-backed loans. 

Attention and prestige: Material wealth can also bring about attention from others because it is seen as an indicator that one is successful in life. 

Easier to measure success: Material things are tangible which means they have an inherent value unlike intangible concepts like happiness or self-worth which may not always be valued equally among different people. It's an easy way to set goals with visible numbers to reach. 

material wealth

How to gain material wealth 

The pursuit of material wealth is not without its challenges. The key to overcoming these challenges and achieving success is by setting realistic goals, being disciplined, and having the patience to stick with them. 

Material wealth often comes from hard work, perseverance, and sacrifice so that you can achieve your goals in life. 

It is also important to surround yourself with the right people who will support your endeavors and be there for you when things get tough. 

It's interesting to note that a lot of these character traits and community support are non-material ways to gain material wealth. For someone starting with nothing, it may be a better path to gain non-material wealth first and leverage that to gain material wealth. 

If you aren't interested in receiving non-material wealth at all, you can still use other physical possessions to create more wealth. An example of this would be to rent out your real estate for money and use that money to buy more material wealth and physical assets. 

There are countless ways of building material wealth but before you go digging for that gold, let's look at the disadvantages of this pursuit.

Disadvantages of material wealth 

Material things don't make you happy. Material wealth is a misconception because it only gives temporary happiness, not long-term and permanent satisfaction.

It creates greed that leads to unrighteousness and evil things such as theft, murder, immorality, etc. 

Materialism makes us unhappy in the long term because it is never satisfied. It's a constant chase for more and more possessions, which ultimately leaves us feeling empty.

You can indeed accumulate material wealth without going down those harmful paths but the temptation can be corruptive. 

Even if you resist these negative temptations, showing too much of your material wealth can often cause envy and lead to you being a target of theft. This is true for non-material as well (love affairs, etc.) but the tangible and visible aspect of physical items leaves the need for more security and less peace of mind. 

Having a safety net of non-material wealth can help soften the fall of material wealth if a bad situation occurs. 

non-material wealth

Benefits of pursuing non-material wealth 

There are many benefits to having non-material wealth. Some of these benefits include: 

Increased happiness and satisfaction: When you have non-material wealth, you are less likely to be focused on acquiring material possessions. This can lead to a greater sense of happiness and satisfaction in your life. 

Improved relationships: Material goods do not make lasting friends or relationships. When you have non-material wealth, you are more likely to have strong relationships with family and friends. Material goods can only bring you temporary happiness, whereas non-material wealth can create memories that last a lifetime. 

Greater sense of purpose: A sense of purpose is important because it can give you a reason to get up in the morning. 

Ability to be more creative: You can think outside the box and come up with new solutions because you're not as tied down by the sole pursuit of possessions. It allows for genuine creative expression. 

How to build non-material wealth 

If you wish to accumulate more non-material wealth, it's helpful to determine the exact type you are searching for. 

Let's use two common phrases as examples, "A wealth of knowledge" and "Health is wealth". To receive these two types of non-material wealth, you can invest your time to learn and gain knowledge about how to live a healthy lifestyle. 

You can even exchange this non-material wealth for material wealth through coaching or personal training. Keep reading to learn more about the wealth exchange.

Genuinely utilizing the law of reciprocity and social currency can be an investment in itself. 

This can pay non-material dividends with favors from the community when you need it. Investing in social currency helps you develop a reputation and a support system, which in turn can lead to more opportunities. 

Disadvantages of non-material wealth 

It's difficult to think that there are any disadvantages to non-material wealth. After all, what could be better than having intangible assets like knowledge, love, and good health?

However, non-material wealth can have its drawbacks. For one, it can be difficult to measure or put a value on. 

Also, non-material wealth doesn't always last as long as material wealth. A person's knowledge or skills may become outdated, a relationship can end, or someone may get sick.

In addition, non-material wealth can be hard to share. Material objects can easily be shared with others (e.g., you can give your friend a book), but it's not always easy to share things like love, care, or knowledge. 

This is especially true if the recipients only accept material wealth. You can fill the emotional bank accounts of your loved ones but if difficult times arise, love will not provide a roof over their heads or food in their fridge. 

Overall, non-material wealth has a lot of advantages, but it's important to be aware of the potential drawbacks too. 

wealth path

How to decide which one is more valuable 

Now that we know what material and non-material wealth are, it's time to decide which one is more valuable. To do this, we need to look at what each type of wealth can offer us, we can begin to decide which one is more valuable. 

So, which one is more valuable? Material wealth or non-material wealth? This is a difficult question to answer, as it depends on individual preferences. 

Some people may prefer to have more money and possessions, while others may place more value on relationships and experiences. There is no right or wrong answer, as it all depends on what matters to each individual. 

However, we can try to compare the two forms of wealth to see which one is more beneficial. Material wealth may provide a person with more financial security, but non-material wealth can bring happiness and fulfillment. 

But it can also be lost or stolen, but non-material wealth is intangible, making it impossible for anyone else to take away. Material wealth is finite, while non-material wealth is infinite.

Which one is better for you? 

In the end, it is up to each individual to decide which type of wealth they prefer. Material wealth has its benefits, but non-material wealth can provide a person with more happiness and satisfaction in life. 

It is important to remember that both forms of wealth are important and valuable, and it is up to each individual to decide which one is more important to them. 

Becoming wealthy by combining both 

It is possible to become wealthy by combining both forms of wealth. Some people may start with material wealth and then later develop non-material wealth and vice versa. 

Here are some ideas and examples for you to use as a visualization tool. 

Find a career or start a business with people that will increase your non-material wealth. A business partner, client, or co-worker can help you achieve material wealth but if they are an emotional liability, is it worth it? 

You might gain less material wealth being a part of the community and team you are passionate about, but if the people involved are consistently adding to your non-material bank account it may be a better option. 

The road to prosperity is to find a way to incorporate both. Starting with a strong sense of self-awareness, begin to create the right environment for your nonmaterial and material assets to grow. 

Having good communication skills is helpful for this worthy pursuit. 

Imagine your boss is asking you to leave the department for a higher salary. It sounds great except you'll end up working away from the people you love and into an emotional disaster. 

Communicating your true desires can save you from depreciation of non-material wealth. 

Another example would be if someone invested their non-material wealth in the form of health, happiness, and time into a company and they know they are being underpaid and overworked.

Knowing how to communicate effectively, this employee could negotiate a better deal that benefits both his material wealth and non-material wealth. 

Living a fulfilled life with both material and non-material wealth requires you to know how to exchange and leverage between the two. 

The metaphysical wealth exchange 

Pets are the best at the wealth exchange. An animal in your home can often be a financial liability unless you monetize your partnership by making them Instagram influencers. 

Most people, however, receive no material compensation from their pets. 

Animals can often exchange security, love, entertainment, and protection for material wealth. In 2020, $103.6 billion was spent on pets in the United States alone. 

Material wealth is given to them in the form of food, shelter, and water. 

Many good dogs will also receive more material wealth than you might imagine. As they walk their owners down the sidewalk in their luxury dog collars and leashes. 

Human society has replicated this exchange strategy. 

An elder person will often receive material wealth, whether it be from the community, family, or government just for their non-material wisdom and experience. 

Babies do this as well. They provide non-material wealth in the form of unconditional love and a potential for a better future. In exchange, they often receive physical gifts and family hand-down possessions. 

You can learn from these examples or see how you might already be using this metaphysical wealth exchange. 

Can you buy non-material wealth?

Non-material goods are non-physical resources valued by individuals and groups within a society. This includes knowledge (education), intellectual property (patents, copyrights), skills, and experience. 

All of these except for experience can be bought with material wealth by going to seminars, hiring lawyers to file your patents, and hiring professionals to teach you skills. 

You can also buy non-material wealth by trading material wealth for affection and love. This can be seen as flowers for romantic partners or toys for kids. Ultimately the success of this exchange is determined by the recipient's perception of value in material items. 


Like most things in life, balance is important. In money-hungry societies, humans can often lose tremendous wealth in its non-material form. Communities that have decided to despise materialistic pursuits can be at risk of physical poverty. 

Material wealth might seem like the obvious choice for people to strive for but if you don't have strong mental, spiritual, and physical health you might not enjoy it. If you don't have non-material wealth in the form of social support, you might have trouble keeping your material wealth. 

To begin your pursuit of both forms of wealth, start by asking yourself if there is a way to leverage and exchange between the two. From there, it's important  to be honest with those around you about what you want in life. 

Finally, and most importantly, seek out the happiness that comes from doing what you love. Find a way to combine it with a fair material payoff. Material and non-material wealth should work together in unison.