I know what you’re thinking, the problems that come with being a millionaire couldn’t possibly outweigh the good that comes with it, but that’s simply not true. Money is what you make of it, regardless of how you originally made it; it can be a curse and destroy everything you thought it would smooth over, and bring around people and problems you never expected or wanted in your life. To be sure, it can be a blessing to those who already appreciate what they have, and who do not rest on their laurels, but more often than not, millionaires do not live contented lives. If you’re not convinced now, you will be by the time you finish this list.
And if you can’t stomach a list about wealthy people’s problems, here’s the moral of the story: This holiday season, be thankful for what you have and that that’s all you have, because if you can’t appreciate it now, then when you get over that white picket fence to where the grass seems greener, you’ll realize you’re standing in fertilizer and that you don’t know the first thing about gardening. Keep reading to find out exactly what the 10 worst things about being a millionaire are.
If idle hands do the Devil’s work, then God help the person whose bored hands are sporting gold and diamond accessories. Whether you came into millions of dollars overnight or worked your way up the corporate ladder, once you’ve reached your goal, once you’ve ‘made it to the top of the mountain, there’s nowhere left to climb to.
Extremely wealthy people have a lot of time to kill when they no longer have to tend to the bare necessities and even retired, married millionaires need to throw themselves into some kind of work or hobby to find purpose in this life. One therapist recalls, in a piece for Psychology Today, a client who simultaneously went into construction and gambling to fill his time flipping houses and cards, and ended up estranged and eventually divorced from his wife, and stuck with his Atlantic City mistress.
9. Nobody Really Likes A Millionaire
In this age of fervent religious conflict and tense racial relations, it seems strange to lament being discriminated against for having millions of dollars, but therein is the rub; there’s double standard, a Robin Hood ethos that says, “Since wealthy people have enough dough to buy happiness, they can spare a stolen necklace here and a spit-on burger there.” And you can bet it’s impossible to start any interaction between people from disparate earning brackets on the right foot, unless maybe if you’re also a celebrity. If you just look rich, you will most likely be assumed to be a condescending prick and treated accordingly; the only thing more dangerous than strolling around south of the tracks in any city after hours, no matter what your cultural background, would be to do it wearing your money on your sleeve.
8. Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Being a millionaire puts a person in an arms race; there will always be somebody richer than you who owns two original Picassos rather than one, or who has the emerald-ruby encrusted Jacquet Droz timepiece rather than the plain old diamond-covered, gold Rolex. And you can bet no millionaire lives primarily in a duplex or a rent-controlled brownstone with no coop board because you can’t be living next to a crack den sleeping on custom made furniture and dozing off to a video fireplace on your 52″ wall-mounted plasma screen. Millionaires live among other millionaires, in gated communities, and in homes that require a staff to keep up. Buy an upscale home, you’ll have to hire upscale gardeners and other groundskeepers. You’ll need somebody to keep those marble floors spit-shined, somebody to keep the wine cellar stocked, somebody to lacquer those cabinet doors that were made from reclaimed shipwrecked wood. If you have a family, you’ll be hiring maids and nannies, all of whom will be overpaid, and none of whom can be fully trusted at first. Which brings us to our next item…
7. Knowing The Leaches From The Middlemen
This point is self-explanatory: Just as millionaires have to hire staff to watch over their stuff, they need trustworthy people to watch over their money. In any business, but especially those in the financial sector, accountants, investment bankers, brokers, there are the charlatans, the snake oil salespeople, the con artists, alongside the upstanding people who have a genuine passion for protecting and developing, growing, expanding, positively supplementing people’s net worth. But finance and commerce and the laws and regulations surrounding them are complex and can be outright dumbfounding to people with little to no experience actually investing and simply maintaining rather than generating wealth. With the confusing rules and high percentage of serpentine middlemen out there, it can be a challenge to hold on to your millions.
6. Culture Shock
Psychologist Jim Grubman, PhD, talks about coming into money as immigrating to the land of the millionaire, with the natives being those who have established fortunes. Just like immigrating to a new country and culture, there are different norms for behavior among the rich versus the not-so-rich and whether native or new to being a millionaire, people have to decide whether to totally assimilate to this new culture, stay stubbornly rooted to their old ways, or find a healthy balance. Like Julia Roberts acclimating to the classy life in Pretty Woman or Chris O’Donnell in Scent of a Woman feeling out of place at the Ferrari dealership, it can be disorienting trying to fit in with the 1%.
5. Money Is Power Without Substance
This is a dramatic or poetic way of saying people can get addicted to purchasing status symbols and greasing palms. It’s easy as a wealthy person to lose touch with the fact that nobody is doing anything for you out of the goodness of his or her heart. Use money as the key to the city, buying your way to the front of the line and through red satin ropes, buying prestige in the form of Ducatis, yachts, and bottle service, and you’ll soon find nobody has any actual respect for you and your actual accomplishments; in the end, people will forget how you made your millions and the illusion of true prestige and political power will disappear as your cash does.
4. Guilt, Stress, Resentment, Fear
On a similar note, people often experience wide range of negative emotion, whether coming into wealth suddenly or having built a business or fortune from the ground up. There is rampant stress just in maintaining one’s fortune and fear in the constant threat of losing said fortune, then there is the resentment of that stress and millionaires thinking, ‘Why did I work so hard for this money if I have to work just as hard to keep it?’ After all, most people pursue wealth in the hopes of reaching a plateau where they can breathe easy, but this rarely happens. Then there is the guilt that some feel over having millions and not being able to or knowing how to share the wealth; unless you’re Bill Gates, and we’re not talking billionaires here, you’ll have to decide, after all your bills and taxes, does the rest go to putting your elderly parents in a higher-quality home or to a philanthropic foundation that may or may not put your money to use helping anybody?
3. Strained Relationships
Millionaires have a lot of friends, a lot more than they probably did while they were generating their wealth or before they fell into their fortune. Obviously most of these friends came out of the woodworks when they smelled a free lunch. It’s impossible to know, after a while, who is sticking around for the perks of having a millionaire friend, and who even knows you let alone likes you for who you are, not what clubs you can get into.
On top of that, money can create divisions and feuds between family members. The financial advisers at Abbot Downing have actually taken to hiring psychiatrists to counsel people on, among other things, how to discuss money with their families, knowing that money can tear even the closest people apart. And if an investment firm having psychiatrists on staff isn’t enough evidence that money leads to conflict, just listen to any Eminem album to hear a track about his family members reappearing in his life to sue him for his hard-earned cash.
2. Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness
Research shows, all things considered, money does not make people happy. Taking yet another page from the hip-hop canon: “Mo’ Money [really does bring] Mo’ Problems.” In fact, that truth is so ingrained in our collective minds by now that most of you reading this probably thought of that Notorious B.I.G. song when you read the title of this article. But, there is quite a bit of scientific evidence to back this up now.
In books and countless scientific articles, psychologists and psychiatrists have time and time again found that, once your bare necessities are covered, extra funds do not significantly increase a person’s contentment or joy. Co-author of Happy Money, Michael Dunn, PhD, suggests that social connection, inter-personal relationships, are the source of true happiness, and that once we have a roof over our heads and enough dough to stay healthy and well-fed, a trip with true friends to a public beach will register as a more positive experience than the same trip with sycophants to a celebrity “friend’s” private island.
1. Money Doesn’t Change Us
It might sound strange to end with saying money doesn’t change us when I’ve just outlined all the ways it could change a person’s life, but so far we’ve really only been talking changes to people’s environments, their schedule, relationships, all external if still incredibly important things. In the end, a millionaire is the same person they were post-millions…
Be honest and ask yourself now, “What would I do with a million dollars,” but “Given my current lifestyle, habits, hangups, demons, what would I really do with a million dollars?” We all like to think we’d change drastically, but only our bank balances would; we’d be the same neurotic, irresponsible people we were, still unable to keep a handle on our credit, still with a penchant for excess. This is why you never hear of a Lotto winner making a name on Wall Street–once a ticket scratcher, always a ticket scratcher.
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