I've noticed something interesting about language in the personal finance community. A lot of the bloggers who have been financially successful have gotten there as a result of being some degree of frugal (from Frugalwoods extreme to Physician on Fire more relative frugality), and as result, even when people have a lot of money, they don't necessarily think of themselves as being rich. Instead, the term "financially independent" is often used to describe net worths that many people would consider enough to make someone "rich".
Does it matter? Is there any difference between describing yourself as financially independent versus rich?
From a totally self-absorbed perspective, I think it does. Even though I am way far away from the net worth of Physician on Fire, I have recently started thinking of myself as rich. I am earning six times the median household income for my city, I'm increasing my net worth at a delightfully high rate, and I can afford to buy pretty much anything that I could possibly want. I am very financially lucky, and I will hopefully continue to be this lucky until I retire at some to-be-determined date in the future. This, to a person who spent all of her life until recently at the lower end of the middle class, is rich.
And for me, there's value in calling myself rich. It helps me control my financial anxiety by reminding myself that I am actually doing really well, even though the part of me that craves security always wants my net worth to be higher. It reminds me to be grateful for what I have, because this level of earning and financial security is not ordinary. It also makes me mindful to not be a jerk to my friends who are not as financially well off, and to invite them over for dinner instead of out to eat at an expensive restaurant.
Personally, I also believe that being rich carries with it some obligations to society. People who are rich have a disproportionate amount of power in society, and I believe we are morally obligated to use some of that power to help shift society towards greater equity. That might mean voting for progressive tax laws that favour lower income earners, even if it costs you directly (i.e. doing the exact opposite of what the POS Republican tax bill just did). Maybe it's advocating for a $15 minimum wage so that people who work full-time can at least come close to supporting themselves and their families with a single job. Maybe it's giving some of your wealth to charities that help marginalized people and strengthen the communities they live in.
When we don't call ourselves rich, it's easy to ignore these obligations. It's easy for someone with a $2 million net worth to say "I'm just an ordinary guy trying to live frugally" while leaving a shitty tip for his underpaid server. But if we acknowledge our own wealth, it at least gets us closer to recognizing that the server needs (and deserves) that money a lot more than we do. And maybe acknowledging our own abundance makes us a little bit more likely to share it with others.