Right view about money and wealth (non-monastics)

Hi All, thanks in advance for your help.

I’m looking for sutta references on how householders should think about, hold, and spend money.

For example: is there advice on saving for retirement? Or about how much of one’s income to give vs keep? What about one’s attitude toward, and energy spent on, accumulating wealth?

This topic is not about right livelihood or the ethics of investing, which have both been covered on this discussion board.

One example Sutta I found: SuttaCentral


There are the standard layperson suttas (DN 31, AN 8.54, SN 55.7) that discuss how you should save money and use it to benefit yourself and your family in brief. I also like this sutta too:

Childless (1st) (SN 3.19)

When a good person has acquired exceptional wealth they make themselves happy and pleased. And they make their mother and father, partners and children, bondservants, workers, and staff, and friends and colleagues happy and pleased. And they establish an uplifting religious donation for ascetics and brahmins that’s conducive to heaven, ripens in happiness, and leads to heaven. Because they make proper use of that wealth, rulers or bandits don’t take it, fire doesn’t consume it, flood doesn’t sweep it away, and unloved heirs don’t take it. Since that wealth is properly utilized, it’s used, not wasted.

As cool water in an uninhabited region
evaporates when not drunk;
so too when a sinner acquires wealth,
they neither use it themselves nor give it away.
But when a wise and sensible person gets hold of wealth,
they use it and do their duty.
That head, having supported the family unit,
blameless, goes to a heavenly place.

This book also offers comments on handling finances in additional to other layperson concerns with sutta references!

(I had to edit the book I linked because it was the wrong layperson’s guide. This is the right one and it talks about wealth starting page 38 [pg. 46 on the pdf].)


What exactly is wealth? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Then Ugga the government minister went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him, “It’s incredible, sir, it’s amazing! Migāra of Rohaṇa is so rich, so very wealthy.”

“But Ugga, how rich is he?”

“He has a hundred thousand gold coins, not to mention the silver!”

“Well, Ugga, that is wealth, I can’t deny it. But fire, water, rulers, thieves, and unloved heirs all take a share of that wealth. There are these seven kinds of wealth that they can’t take a share of. What seven? The wealth of faith, ethical conduct, conscience, prudence, learning, generosity, and wisdom.

What are the qualities you should have if you want to grow rich and stay rich? :thinking:

Mahānāma, in whatever clansman five qualities are found—whether he is a consecrated khattiya king, a country gentleman, the general of an army, a village headman, a guildmaster, or one of those who exercise private rulership over various clans—only growth is to be expected, not decline. What five?
“Here, Mahānāma, with wealth acquired by energetic striving, amassed by the strength of his arms, earned by the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained, a clansman honors, respects, esteems, and venerates his parents…his wife and children, his slaves, workers, and servants…the owners of the neighboring fields and those with whom he does business…the oblational deities…ascetics and brahmins… … being honored, respected, esteemed, and venerated, (they) have compassion on him with a good heart, thinking: ‘May you live long and maintain a long life span.’ When a clansman’s parents have compassion for him, only growth is to be expected for him, not decline.

One needs a good reason to get rich…otherwise what’s its worth?

Householder, there are these five reasons to get rich. What five?

Firstly, with his legitimate wealth—earned by his efforts and initiative, built up with his own hands, gathered by the sweat of the brow—he makes himself happy and pleased, keeping himself properly happy. He makes his mother and father happy … He makes his children, partners, bondservants, workers, and staff happy …… he makes his friends and colleagues happy … he protects himself against losses from such things as fire, water, kings, bandits, or unloved heirs. He keeps himself safe… he makes five spirit-offerings: to relatives, guests, ancestors, king, and deities. … he establishes an uplifting religious donation for ascetics and brahmins—those who avoid intoxication and negligence, are settled in patience and gentleness, and who tame, calm, and extinguish themselves—that’s conducive to heaven, ripens in happiness, and leads to heaven. …These are the five reasons to get rich.

If you’re middle class…

Byagghapajja, these four things lead to the welfare and happiness of a gentleman in this life. What four?

Accomplishment in initiative, protection, good friendship, and balanced finances.

there are these eight accomplishments. What eight? Accomplishment in initiative, protection, good friendship, and balanced finances. And accomplishment in faith, ethics, generosity, and wisdom.

Or if you’re a business owner…

Bhikkhus, possessing three factors, a shopkeeper soon attains vast and abundant wealth. What three? Here, a shopkeeper has keen eyes, is responsible, and has benefactors.

(1) “And how, bhikkhus, does a shopkeeper have keen eyes? Here, a shopkeeper knows of an item: ‘If this item is bought at such a price and sold at such a price, it will require this much capital and bring this much profit.’ It is in this way that a shopkeeper has keen eyes.

(2) “And how is a shopkeeper responsible? Here, a shopkeeper is skilled in buying and selling goods. It is in this way that a shopkeeper is responsible.

(3) “And how does a shopkeeper have benefactors? Here, rich, wealthy, affluent householders and householders’ sons know him thus: ‘This good shopkeeper has keen eyes and is responsible; he is able to support his wife and children and pay us back from time to time.’ So they deposit wealth with him, saying: ‘Having earned wealth with this, friend shopkeeper, support your wife and children and pay us back from time to time.’ It is in this way that a shopkeeper has benefactors.

No matter what…vision is key!

Who is the blind person? It’s someone who doesn’t have the kind of vision that’s needed to acquire more wealth or to increase the wealth they’ve already acquired. Nor do they have the kind of vision that’s needed to know the difference between qualities that are skillful and unskillful, blameworthy and blameless, inferior and superior, and those on the side of dark and bright.

Marry the right person, if you want to keep your wealth… {Yes, its sexist- its 2500 years old after all- just read ‘partner’ for ‘wife’ and choose ‘friend’ to go with our times}

Sujātā, a man can have seven kinds of wife. What seven? A wife like a killer, a wife like a thief, a wife like a lord, a wife like a mother, a wife like a sister, a wife like a friend, and a wife like a bondservant. These are the kinds of wife that a man can have. Which one of these are you?”

and never, ever get angry or irritable… :rofl:

When a person is irritable, overcome and overwhelmed by anger, the rulers seize the legitimate wealth they’ve earned by their efforts, built up with their own hands, gathered by the sweat of their brow.

Retirement? :joy: :rofl: :crossed_fingers: :grimacing:

The world is unstable and swept away.’ …
‘The world has no shelter and no savior.’ …
‘The world has no owner—you must leave it all behind and pass on.’ …
‘The world is wanting, insatiable, the slave of craving.’ …

The Blessed One who knows and sees, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha taught these four summaries of the teaching. It was after knowing and seeing and hearing these that I went forth from the lay life to homelessness.”


Thank you for this! A great and simple read… I was immediately transported to my school days :joy:. I went to an elite Jesuit school, and ethics and morality were studied within a special non religious class “Moral Science”. Those classes stood me in good stead in later life… along with the compulsory ‘manual skills’ I had to learn in shop class!

Not teaching our young the basic value of ethics in an attempt to be agnostic seems to me to be a mistake. :thinking:


Wow thank you for these answers @faujidoc1 ! How did you do comprehensively answer these questions, so quickly, do you have a photographic memory of the tipitika?

And for the record I totally know money ain’t true wealth or freedom…just figuring out how to think about and use it while I have to :joy:

Now back to holier pursuits! :pray::pray::pray:


Thank you for this @ZenKen!

I didn’t know about that website earlier.

Have my reading cut out :slightly_smiling_face: