I think “rich” and “comfortable” look an awful lot the same, especially to folks who are neither. Like: I grew up … poor-ish? Working class? However you want to define “below median income, parents in debt and barely making ends meet, in an even more poverty-stricken town, but not personally housing- or food-unstable, mostly.” Then I went to a private liberal arts university, where the overwhelming majority of the student body would have described themselves as “comfortable.” But to me they seemed rich.
Now I’m actually past that tipping point and I feel comfortable. I don’t tend to think of myself as rich, because (for example) I’m scrambling to make Thanksgiving travel plans, and figuring out the cheapest solution is part of the process. I’d like to think “rich” would mean not having to take that into account at all. But on the other hand, I know I *will* be able to afford some method of travel, without causing major budget chaos.
So maybe that’s “rich.” It’s not super MEGA rich, but high school me would definitely think adult me is rich.
Or maybe the difference is “I want to have enough” vs “I want to have excess.” But everyone’s definition of what’s excessive will change, and at the same time we’re taught to aspire to that, we’re also taught to be ashamed of wanting it, so the whole issue is really thorny anyway.