Let’s picture you winning at life: you’ve been hardworking and ingenious with every career move…or something like a rich uncle passed away and left you with a fat inheritance. For any and whatever reason, there’s suddenly more moolah coming in than you could ever imagine before. Sweet! Life is grand when there’s green abound. How can anyone think having more money is bad..? (Cough, lifestyle inflation) Well get on this free bus tour through the dark side of the human psyche. Let’s see what are some reasons why having more money can be harmful to our happiness.
Disclaimer: Having money is still really, really awesome. I take these problems over being super broke any day, any time.
⭐ Recommended Reads:
- Top 14 Reasons Why Some People Don’t Save Money
- 13 Sensible Defining Characteristics Of Upper Middle Class People
1. Dealing with impostor syndrome
The first stop on our tour bus is a big one. People underestimate the prevalence of impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is the failure to accept any accomplishments because you feel as if you don’t deserve it. There’s quite a bit of that psychologically in how my husband and I feel about everything we have (and in our case, it’s kind of true.) During his hiring orientation, my husband actually received a course lesson on how to deal with impostor syndrome because it’s apparently so common for people to feel like they don’t deserve to be hired there – the company set up a lesson course for it!
2. Authenticity of relationships
Celebrities complain about this a lot, we’ve heard it before. People have enough trust issues already before adding money into the equation. When you’re flushed with green, everyone who is behaving like a complete darling could be in it for the money and not you. They’re hoping to catch the spoils of your newfound wealth by affliction.
3. Money buys comfort…& that’s it
There’s a baseline for happiness and research shows people don’t move beyond that. Money can provide comforts that make life easier and offer more attractive options, but beyond that, you are stuck with yourself. That’s one reason I’m don’t make a big deal about going somewhere for vacation. I still have to deal with myself anywhere I go except I’ll be me in pink beach shorts and sand in my hair. Same thing, different day. I guess a better example would be…
OK…you’re born with a conjoined twin who pokes your face every 5 seconds. And yes your vital organs are shared with your fused twins so there’s no slice-y and dice-y.
You can become the richest, wisest, world traveler on Earth but no money can stop your lame face twin from poking you all day and night. Related: Why you should find meaning before you find wealth.
4. Becoming too competitive
Do you know what’s really cool? I’ll let you in on a secret: Rockstar Finance has a page that tracks the net worth of 400+ personal finance bloggers. Go on, perv at it! I go to look and update ours once in a while and catch myself automatically scrolling back up after I get to my name. I scroll up to the ones that naturally have more monies. I don’t usually scroll down past us. Not sure why, just not as interested I guess, secretly – I want to see who is next on the list I can whack off. It looks to be another blogger, The Dividend Pig, is next on my hit-list 😛 🙂
⭐ Related Reads:
- 9 Money Mistakes To Avoid For Debt-Free Living
- Don’t (Nicolas) Cage Yourself In Financially
- 4 Practical Budgets For People Bad With Money
Second, stop on the tour everybody, and if you look around, nothing here should surprise you. Let’s see the sentiments from how “having too much money” plays out from other individuals who underestimated your luck and potential (or rich uncle).
5. Jealousy bug
No one is clapping for your success and newfound fortune here. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not great people. Family and friends are not obligated to celebrate your success. Why? Because they are their own person with their own circumstance. Life can be very untimely and bitter. When I met my husband, everything was coming up roses for me, but my close friend was going through her most turbulent break-up to date. On top of that, she was in a financially compromising situation that she desperately hated. I found our conversations dying like an exposed garden snail in sunlight. Slow, tragic, and unnatural. A jealousy bug infestation was digging through our relationship and it burrowed itself in every thought that now starts with, “well, why her and not me?” Which takes us to the next thing –
6. People don’t think you deserve it
The biggest grip about jealousy is that a lot of times, people don’t think you’ve earned your success or even deserve it. It’s the worst feeling to have because the word ‘Deserve’ is so controversial. Do you want to start a fight? Throw the D-word around and see how quickly things escalate. Take Marissa Mayers, the former CEO of Yahoo, who received a lot of heat for her 23 million severance package despite her lackluster performance in reviving Yahoo1; not to mention the bonus millions for handing Yahoo off to Verizon too. The backlash she received was cantankerous.2
7. People think you’re greedy
Following Mayer’s train of thought, we’ve hit this: people think you’re a workaholic/selfish/cold/greedy etc. Pretty much anything in that nature.
Often enough, people judge your gain as somehow their loss. Mayer’s severance numbers was a symbol of that – it was also fueled by the income inequality between a highly visible tech CEO and the rest of us more normative “9 to 5” hardworking employees. It’s a wastebasket discussion (meaning it goes on and on non-stop with no resolution so it belongs in the wastebasket). Read up on ThinkSaveRetire’s piece on if being wealthy is unfair.
8. People start pitching
On the flip side, people suddenly got the next million-dollar idea to show you. They want to pitch it to you and they’re expecting a solid yes as the response. One of my close friends started pitching ideas to me to start another niche blog. She heard (from me) that blogging can be a profitable avenue if you’re truly crazy to attempt it. I haven’t sought a dime so color me mystified actually. Anyway, she kept pitching me half-assed joint web ventures which naturally makes me very uncomfortable. 1. Mixing business and friendship is not a good idea. 2. She already owes me a few thousand from our last business endeavor. 3. Her track record with profitability and scalability, like mine, has been uninspiring. 4. I know very little and she knows even less. 5. If you’re blogging for the sake of money then you’re doing everything wrong from the get-go.
⭐ Related Reads:
- 3 Signs When Being Frugal Doesn’t Work & What To Do About It
- Why Rich People Penny Pinch When They Don’t Have To?
- At What Age Does Being Broke Stop Being Cute?
9. People expect handouts
If it’s not a sales pinch then it’s a quest for a payout, which is no better. I’m pretty soft-hearted so the entire hand-out thing makes me nervous. If it’s for a real friend, it’s hard to say no. If it’s under $30, yeah, take it, I won’t miss it.
Anything over $100, I would discuss it with my husband first and vice versa. Thankfully none of my real friends ever asked for even $3. This is how I feel: I’m pretty good with money. I understand it as the building block for freedom. I have buckets of self-control and a few very clear goal in mind. If the money stays with me, it’s in better hands than almost anyone else. Does that make me sound conceited…? ☺
10. People think you’re cheap
Well, shake and freakin’ bake, yes I am – on some things. I’m guessing a large percentage of people who end up with excess wealth is because they were shrewd and responsible for it in the first place.
Last stop of the tour! Systematic downsides! Ding!
11. Wealth makes you an easy target
The easiest targets are the ones with big visibility. Wealth makes a person highly visible which is why adopting stealth wealth is all the rage right now (as it should be). It’s also not surprising that the IRS goes after those with higher incomes than the average joe bringing in $45,000 a year. For high-income earners and households, it’s important to keep an immaculate paper trail, since statically speaking, chances of getting audited increases as income increases3. The only thing uglier than an audit is a lawsuit. Ewww, what an ugly word. If you are a high-profile business or business person with enough assets – say in the tens or hundreds of millions, you could be dragged through the mud for an easy payout. Remember the stories of two overweight women that sued McDonald’s for selling fatty food? Or the guy who sued McDonald’s because he only got one napkin?4
12. Lonelier near the top
A lot of our friendships are based on similarities in relation to socioeconomic standing.
Becoming richer can mean losing old friends over time because it’s harder and harder to relate once the divide begins and compounds. There are fewer people who you can trust and empathize with and with that, a certain sense of isolation is bound to happen.
Have you ever given friends money? What is your policy on friend, money and going into business? Have you ever experienced impostor syndrome?
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Great thoughts! Haha you’re right I don’t scroll down on Rockstar Forums as much.. It’s human nature! I haven’t ever loaned a friend money, I get very wary of loaning money to friends or family. You’re right about the jealousy, unfortuntely one of my siblings acts like that and it comes out as snide passive aggressive remarks to me. 🙁
Morning! Sorry to hear 🙁 jealousy happens a lot in siblings but it’s important to play the bigger person.
It’s interesting–I think being “rich” is relative. I’m 38 and married with kids, so while my net worth is high, other people my age and socio-economic status have amassed high net worths as well. I think since you and your hubs are so young, you’re more obvious outliers. Also, nobody would know we have a high net worth because I drive an Accord with Bubble Guppies stickers and a rusted license plate, and dress from the thrift shop (but cute! I swear!). So nobody really knows. I will say, when I mention certain things to “friends” I’ll get strange comments. “Must be nice to be going on a three week trip to Chile.” People definitely think we’re cheap (especially my family!). That’s annoying, because we’re sooo spendy by PF standards. You make great points, though. And I would definitely NOT lend a friend money. Like you said, I’d give up to a certain amount, but lending is a death toll for friendships.
Haha a death toll is a great way to put it Laurie!!
Mrs. Kiwi @ KiwiAndKeweenaw.com says
I’m so jealous of all your money! (Just kidding, I’m enjoying my journey in the midwest!)
Money can only get you so far! Once you have enough to be safe it definitely doesn’t bring a lot more happiness. Lots of us PF weirdos spend too much time thinking about it, probably at the sacrifice our our own contentment! Sometimes I’m very jealous of my hubby who doesn’t care to think about money any more than the bare minimum.
Woah woah Mrs KK, the journey is more fun. Plus we don’t have much monies, it’s half tied to real estate going crazy here, you should see the real heavy hitters on Rockstar ?
I totally understand your dilemma with hubby. Jared is like that too. It took me 2 years and he’s only shown a slight interest.
Yet Another PF Blog says
Our level of wealth is not that atypical for the area and we don’t share our net worth with friends, so we’ve never really had a problem on the social front (knock on wood). But I feel the imposter syndrome thing all. the. time. Most of our gains so far have been from my primary employment and it’s hard to justify how much we’ve made from it on, like, a societal level and even just thinking within the context of the company itself. What if they find out they’re paying me too much? Ha ha. In the end, we donate to ameliorate the guilt, but the other aspects of imposter syndrome flare up every so often.
Oh gosh that’s silly, they wouldn’t keep you in the payroll if you were a dim employee! Jared feels the same too so he puts in longer hours to feel better and feels crushed if he failed something. It’s terrible…hm..
Turning Point Money says
Great post, and we can relate many of these things. We always seem to get stuck the restaurant checks when dining with family.
I think this is why stealth wealth becomes important. I thought about posting our net worth on Rockstar, but alas I can’t disclose the exact figure. Our family and friends how no idea how much wealth we have they just know we have jobs with high income.
You must not be Asian ha! We have to fight to see who pays. I saw my dad throw down another uncle hah. Yes I noticed there’s 1600+ bloggers in the network but just 400 posted net worths so it’s definitely not obligated.
Budget on a Stick says
I only lend friends a few bucks because I know they aren’t going to pay me back 😉 I don’t think I would ever go into business with any of them. Maybe they can write a guest post ?
I will usually only take a look at the other bloggers that are around me on the directory
Sounds about right 🙂 me too!
We make it a rule not to talk about finances with others. Honestly our biggest issue is shared experiences discussions. Talking about travel to a friend who can barely afford gas to get to work just makes you feel privileged. Nevermind whether they are there due to their own actions or not.
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
This is such a great post! Very insightful and funny!
I’m sorry to hear about your friend and what happened between the two of you. Just know that it’s not your fault. We all have ups and downs. She just happened to be going through a tough time when everything was working for you. It wasn’t your fault. And it’s unfortunate that she got so jealous of you to the point where she let the friendship go south.
Anyway, I BELIEVE that you and Jared deserve all the wonderful things you have in life. Don’t let other tell you otherwise. If they do, they’re probably jealous of your success (hehe). It’s very tempting for people to explain away your success because it makes them feel better about their lives. 😉
No worries, we’re still friends and she’s is doing amazing now! It took us 2 years to repair it though.
And aww thanks Ms. Faf. Who is cutting onions in here!!!
Joe @ Retire by 40 says
Whoa, a lot of these issues could be avoided with stealth wealth. Most people don’t know we’re doing well and the subject rarely comes up. Jealousy is definitely an issue, though. This weekend we went to our kid’s end of soccer season party and everyone there seems pretty rich. They’re all in tennis club and other upscale athletic club. Our kid got jealous of the big house where they had the party. Envy is tough.
I know right! Oh my gosh I should smoosh that into the post.
Awwww RB40 Jr will learn someday that not all that glitters is gold 🙂
Mrs. Adventure Rich says
Yet again, you are spot on! I find I often have “impostor syndrome” because of my higher salary (its not crazy high, but it is above average)… I see so many people working wayyyy harder than me in some ways (including my husband), yet for some reason, my job is deemed “worthy of more”. Because of that, I tend to just keep my salary under wraps and live “stealth wealth” to avoid many of the pitfalls above 🙂 Haha- if we ever retire early though, that will be a tricky one to navigate!
Oh that sounds more like a good dose of guilt too Mrs. AR. I feel like if you are responsible with monies, there shouldn’t be any guilt because the money is better under control and put to use with you than anyone else.
Dave @ Married with Money says
I thankfully don’t experience many of these down-sides. 🙂
My biggest fear though is that lifestyle inflation will lead me to be extremely selective over jobs I take because I’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of income. And it’s not really SPENDING at this point, but SAVING. I want to be able to SAVE a certain amount and if I take a lower-paying job, that’ll be more stressful to do! Haha
This is an interesting perspective and while I’ve heard people face many of these things, I’m thankful that I’ve not had to deal with any of them yet. Good things to keep an eye out for, though 🙂
Stealthy Dave! 🙂
Brad - MaximizeYourMoney.com says
We’ve never loaned a friend money but it isn’t uncommon for us to give them money. The most we’ve given at once was $5,000 but it is more common for us to give a few hundred or up to $1,000 at a time.
Your points are good ones. It’s more of a “just be aware” situation though – each is surmountable with fairly minimal effort.
I’ve not invested in a friend’s venture, though I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I’m invested in about a dozen startups right now. As long as the team is strong and the idea good, I’d consider investing regardless of the friend vs not-friend relationship.
Woaaaaaaaaaaaaah really?! Gifts? Friends not family? Can I be your friend? 😀 😀
Hahaha kidding of course!
Mr. Groovy says
“[N]o slice-y and dice-y.”
“Go on, perv at it!”
“[O]ink oink piggy, I’m craving bacon.”
You’re a blogging gem, my friend. You never fail to make me laugh. And you never fail to write something that doesn’t resonate. This post hit home on so many fronts. I especially like the admonition, “Wealth makes you an easy target.” This is so freakin’ true. It’s also the primary reason I keep my 2004 Camry and dress like a bum. I don’t want people to think I have money. I want them to think I’m a loser. Life is hard enough as is. I don’t need strangers hating on me because I manage my money well and can afford niceties that they can’t. So until our culture stops demonizing the wealthy, I’ll live under the radar. Thanks for another great post, Lily. I feel much better having read this.
Grant @ Life Prep Couple says
Plus 1 to what Mr Groovy said. My thoughts exactly.
Oink oink ?
Aw shuckles ??
Wow Mr. G I didn’t know that was your pure intent! I guess the trash picking was a sign xD I sometimes want others to look at me like a bum too (random strangers) but my peers (like colleagues or neighbors) I sort of want them to know we’re OK because we see them daily and they do talk. I should be more like you!!
Mr. Blockchain says
“A rich uncle passed away and left you with a fat inheritance.”
LMAO! I like how that was the second example for “winning at life.” It’s true for so many: Look at the Walton family. They control a level of wealth that’s greater than 40% of Americans. Being born with the right last name is sometimes everything.
But enough is never enough, really. I was reading this book, Tribe, and since it’s sitting my desk I’d like to quote it:
“Although happiness is notoriously subjective and difficult to measure, mental illness is not. Numerous cross-cultural studies have shown that modern society – despite its nearly miraculous advances in medicine, science, and technology – is afflicted with some of the highest rates of depression, schizophrenia, poor health, anxiety, and chronic loneliness in human history. As affluence and urbanization rise in a society, rates of depression and suicide tend to go up rather than down. Rather than buffering people from clinical depression, increased wealth in a society seems to foster it.”
Might be a bit of a chicken-egg situation. I think, instead of wealth causing higher levels of mental illness, people with higher levels of mental illness seek out more wealth to deal with their problems. It’s probably a bit of both.
Woah that’s steep Mr. B! I never heard of that before – I suspected it and it’s quite sad actually.
I was surprise the Walton family was so wealthy – from such innocent beginnings too – a small grocery store.
Sylvia | Mommy Over Work says
What you say is so true considering how people who get windfalls like winning lotteries can end up in debt/worse off than before. It’s important to recognize that money is a tool rather than a state of being so that you can use it to achieve what you want rather than let it control you.
As for lending money to friends, my mom taught me that give with no expectation that you’ll get it back so you don’t get upset if that happens to be the case.
Great advice Sylvia!
I am like Mrs Adventure Rick, I often have the “impostor syndrome” because I make a lot more money than some people who seem to work a lot harder. I do work really hard but they seem to do too but for a lot less money. I never tell people how much I make, I just say I have a good salary. Makes it easier:)
Ohh now I’m curious ??
Lol, it’s really good but maybe not that good!:) Just a lot more than average.
Great post. The sad part is that it is true. While I will never be as wealthy as a celebrity, I rather try to blend in than to stick out in society. When you flash your success, you just put a target on your back. If you want to feel good about being wealthy, use some of it to help someone else. Do it anonymously. It is healthy for the ego.
That’s so seriously solid advice Dave!
Tawnya @ The Dancing Dollar says
Lily, I can’t say I have too much money, but I think these are truths for many people with a healthy amount of savings. To answer your question(s), I no longer loan money out to family and friends. My policy has evolved into “just say no”, since it’s not worth the risk of ruining a relationship; this policy goes for business dealings as well. I think I’ve experienced impostor syndrome to a degree, since I was lucky/blessed to have been born in the U.S. to good parents. Also, I’m not sure if this would belong in the psychological or physiological column, but stress is a big con for me. I worry a lot about how to not lose money, keep up with inflation, & the value of the dollar. Then again, I’m a “stresser”. Anyway, thanks for such an original post!
Me too Tawnya! I was just talking to hubby about buying I-bonds because the high interest account doesn’t even feel high enough!!!
Blake @ The Dividend Pig says
Sounds like we have a challenge a-brewin’. Good luck! I’ll have to work harder to bring home the bacon. 😉
A Journey to FI says
Lily, this is a great post so thanks for the insight. Surprisingly (or maybe not) we tend to be judged by relatives who, for some reason, believe we are in the money big time. As a result, there’s the expectation of maintaining a higher living standard compared to the one we have today. Cheap is a typical word we hear every now and then and the funniest ones are around how we better spend our money because we won’t be able to take it with us when we die…. really? Anyways, we don’t pay attention to all that nonsense. and we keep doing things that make us happy.
That’s a selfish thought! Say no guys, it’s not for me to take but for others to have (so you better be nice to me!!!) :p
Shawn @ ThesmartFi says
Certainly, this is a high-quality problem. I could figure out a way to manage all the downside:)
Aparna @ Elementum Money says
Nice post Lily. I agree that being rich is not the bed of roses people imagine.
Like with most things in life, it has its’ fair share of pros and cons. This post made a lot of sense about how people need to take the dream of being rich with a pinch of salt. For some, the salt might make the taste even better 🙂
Finance stoic says
This was a great post and a lot is applicable.
Impostor syndrome is big for me, for sure. I had a great text conversation with a colleague that’s worked for me for seven years now. She, and quite a few other colleagues, are very intelligent people, and they work for me. The odds of them doing that if I was as useless as I think I am, are quite low 🙂 Also, the people who pay me are quite intelligent and wouldn’t pay a dummy so maybe I’m not!
I’ve had friends who always wanted me to pay for dinner, pay for their movie, etc. I don’t spend time with them anymore. It started to quite bother me.
I’ve lent siblings money, often knowing it would mean I wouldn’t be repaid.
We don’t flagrantly show our wealth and even my siblings and parents don’t know exactly what it is.
Rockstar Finance net worths were exciting when I was in the top ten, but then we got all these rich Doctors coming along and I gave up 😉
Smile If You Dare says
Unfortunately I have come across people who, because they have money, think they are better than everyone else. That they deserve better treatment because they have money. That they don’t need to follow normal rules because they have money. That they deserve special pampering only because they have money.
They give money a bad name by such attitude and behavior.
Michael @ Financially Alert says
I try to never loan money to a friend without first making the assumption that it will not come back. If it does, then great, but if it doesn’t, I won’t lose a friendship over it. The same holds true for relatives. If I don’t want to make this assumption then I simply won’t make the loan. 🙂
Imagine crying about have to much money, fucking disgusting. Struggling everyday working 2 jobs to barely keep a roof over my head and shit food in my stomach. I’ll take all the money causing the rich “problems” then. Like imagine not being dead broke all the time then bitching about have money. Kindly
Lily | The Frugal Gene says
I’m sorry you feel that way about your circumstances. You didn’t do anything wrong to deserve your financial situation. Everyone has circumstances and personal struggles. Money is usually, but not always a deep theme. Life is often tons of struggling and suffering – and it hits everyone – but in different ways and intensity. Seems to me this current stage of your struggles are very challenging indeed. I believe if you change your mindset towards your situation for the positive, the solution will eventually show itself as well. Try to let go of the negative and you will be free. Good luck:).