Saturday, September 13

5 reasons being rich sucks

I was reading The Personal Financier's piece about accepting that he'll never be rich. It's an interesting piece that you should definitely check out. I think he makes some good points about there being certain prerequisites.

Most of us don't have the drive to be rich. We're not willing to take the risks; we don't have anything to prove, etc etc.

Okay, fine. But I have to wonder: What's so great about being rich?

Just not my style

Aside from the occasional daydream about winning the lottery, I have never really had any interest in being rich.

I know that's practically heresy in this country, but it's true. There are a lot consequences to being rich that people don't consider.

  1. Your life becomes public property. Look at celebrity gossip. It's not just about actors and singers.
  2. Never-ending pleas for money. Your mailbox would be crammed with credit card companies wooing you and charities appealing to your sense of humanity. For every charity you do donate to, there's two or three more (minimum) that you have to turn away. Would you ever stop feeling guilty about the causes you're not supporting?
  3. Money strains friendships. Think nothing can come between you and your buddies? Try a couple million bucks. You'll lead very different lifestyles. There's awkwardness and guilt aplenty there. And if the friends are good people, you can't just be grandiose and buy them houses. That would just make it worse.
  4. You'll never know who your real friends are. Once your old friends have vanished, you may have trouble knowing who likes you and who likes your money. Besides being surrounded by would-be sycophants, even other rich people probably wouldn't be friends with you if you weren't rich. (Back to having things in common.)
  5. What do you do with your time? Anyone who's been unable to work for a significant amount of time knows: Being home all day, every day is bo-ring. You can travel, but eventually you'll get homesick. I love reading, but even I get sick of too much reading after a week or so of dedicated bookworming. You can't (or shouldn't) spend all your time shopping. And it's not like you can really volunteer at the local library without causing a lot of awkwardness and maybe crowds. So instead you, what, throw fund-raising luncheons? What a party.

I don't know... It just seems like an awfully hollow existence.

Not to mention that lots of people who are supposedly rich end up bankrupt -- Ed McMahon, Mike Tyson, etc -- because they still spend more than they earn: designer clothes, new cars, huge houses, etc.

If being rich doesn't even mean you're financially safe, what's the point?

I'm sure it's fun

I'm not saying there aren't benefits.

  1. Picking any house, not worrying about price and downpayment.
  2. Help keeping the place clean
  3. Having a cook so we never had to worry about meals
  4. Buying Tim a fully equipped Selene Mustang. Heck, this is a fantasy: Buy him an Astin Martin, a Viper and a Ferrari!
  5. Travel on a whim, wherever we want.

But weighed against all the other stuff? It just seems easier to scale back a few of those fantasies and live comfortably, without so much hassle and guilt.

And I have to wonder how much healthier our country would be, economically, if more people had more modest (aka "realistic") goals. Would we have this subprime mess, or would people have bought only as much house as they needed? Would we have this credit mess, or would people care less about having ostentatious shows of expense?

Do we even know why we place such an importance on wealth? It seems so natural that I bet most people haven't actually stopped to consider why being rich is ideal.

There are obvious benefits, such as freedom from mundane money worries. But most people find ways to afford a house (the last few years notwithstanding) and a few nice things. So it can't just be about materialism. In the U.S., being rich is practically transcendental.

I'd like to put it to you all. Why does being rich have so much more meaning beyond simply having ample money?

For my part, I agree with the whole Max Weber/Protestant Worth Ethic deal. It's quite a tangent, so I won't go into it unless someone specifically wants to know. Otherwise, I'd really like to hear what your theories are.



Blogger Foxie said...

I don't know about being rich per se, but I do know it'd be nice to afford the things I'd really love to have. :) On the top of my list are the two big ones: A nice condo in New Jersey and my Ferrari. (I've got my eye on a 550 Maranello someday, of course that might change... I'm not expecting to get her for at least fifteen years.)

If that's enough to make me rich, then I guess I'll be rich. But that's not really my end goal. I just want the things that would make me the most happy. :)

September 14, 2008 at 7:59 AM

Blogger Jackie B. said...

I enjoyed reading your views on this post. Coming from someone who has a blog entitled "I Pick Up Pennies", I find this surprising! I can't exactly agree with your thoughts. I would love trying out "being rich". I do not think it would suck. My mailbox is already crammed with credit card offers and charities begging for money, etc. so this would not be a big change. Also, I would love the freedom of not having to work. I could definitely find things to keep me busy. I do not work "for fun" now. It is a necessity! I have lived frugally for so long that I do not think I would go wild with money and become bankrupt. That is just irresponsible and I have never considered myself that! Yes, sometimes it is fun to see how frugal I can get and how much money I can save with coupons but I will never give up my dream of winning the lottery!

September 14, 2008 at 10:08 AM

Blogger Abby said...

Foxie: I think that's a good way to look at it. Tim desperately wants a Selene Mustang one day. I've already told him, hey, as long as we're doing okay in other areas, I'm fine with that (so long as we also have a sensible car). So maybe one day we'll have saved enough for his dream car.

Jackie B:

No one should give up their dreams of winning the lottery! And certainly I know very few people who work "for fun." I do think you're underestimating just how many people would pester you for money. But perhaps you have a better stomach for that sort of thing than I do. I think, clearly, the only way to settle this argument is for you to go ahead and win the lottery and report back to us. So get on it, already, missy!

September 14, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Blogger DRiPpy Chick said...

Rich is one thing, famous is another. I would rather be rich than famous. If you read the book, "The Millionaire Next Door", you'll find that many very wealthy people do not live a life that Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous would be even minutely interested in. I would not like to be "suddenly wealthy" (ie win the lottery) because of the publicity surrounding it, and the potential of every charity (dubious or otherwise), scam artist, long lost relative and facebook friend asking for assistance. So many people are not equipped to handle that sort of publicity, or a large sum of money... check out the stories of large lottery winners who are broke again in 2-5 years.

If you are independently wealthy (ie not dependent on a paycheque), you have the freedom to do what ever you want. For me, building an income stream not dependent on being someone else's employee makes more sense... allows the freedom, but with quiet near anonymity.

September 14, 2008 at 4:14 PM

Blogger Abby said...


That does sound appealing. If only I had a good way to create an independent income stream.

September 14, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Blogger FindSavings said...

Drippy - totaly agree with you. I was thinking about the same book as I read the post. Big difference between being rich and famous. I would definitely prefer rich, have no interest in being famous.

Most millionaires in this country run a small local business and have been doing so for quite some time. They live in your average neighborhood and buy/drive used cars. They don't have flashy lifestyles, just the financial freedom to do what they want.

September 16, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Blogger Claire said...

The thing that was I was thinking was long the lines of drippy chick. Just because you're rich doesn't mean you have to adopt the rich lifestyle. You can have that money in the bank (or stock market, or whatever) and know that you are financially secure and don't have to worry about your future. Just because you have a lot of money doesn't mean that you have to deal with all those things that you mentioned in your negatives list. If you never mention it, how will your friends know you're rich? Then you know they like you for you.

September 16, 2008 at 1:41 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Yes, I suppose in this day and age, you can live a life of secret riches. The most obvious example being that guy in Jersey who saved millions and gave a ton to charity.

Still, I'd be perfectly happy with being financially comfortable: A nice (not too big) house and maybe some traveling money.

September 16, 2008 at 2:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no desire to be rich, at all. My dream is to be debt-free and just be able to pay the bills without worrying about it.

September 18, 2008 at 4:08 PM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home