When Having Too Much Money is Bad

When Having Too Much Money is Bad

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? 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.

Psychological

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!

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.

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 or doing anything. I still have to deal with myself anywhere I go except I’ll be with me in pink beach shorts and sand in my hair.

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.

Becoming too competitive

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 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 The Dividend Pig next, oink oink piggy, I’m craving bacon. 🗡️

Hehe, I’m sooooo kidding, isn’t that terrible? 😏

Social

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).

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 –

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

People think you’re greedy

Following the 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 waste basket discussion (meaning it goes on and on non-stop with no resolution so it belongs in the waste basket). Read up on ThinkSaveRetire’s piece on if being wealthy is unfair.

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.

People expect handouts

If it’s not a sales pinch then it’s a quest for a pay out, 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 $75, 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 one 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…? ☺️

Last year, I sent $25 to a Facebook guy for his dog’s vet bill. He was a mutual friend of a friend, I met him in real life like once for 2 seconds. I just felt bad for the dog, that’s all.

But I don’t believe he got enough donated so I think he blew stranger money on his hobbies (which comprise of strippers, eating out and car models based on his Facebook.)

I was so angry. Plus that poor dog.

I felt he was also not too happy with me (he never spoke to me again or thanked me even.) I think he was expecting me to pay for his entire bill or something since we’re consider wealthy by his “low-down, stuck in Chinatown” mentality.

That’s what I get for being a softie. Lesson learned.

Rarely do those who ask me for money been very responsible with theirs in the first place. It doesn’t take me more than 2 seconds to trace the fact that whatever I hand over will end up in a 7-Eleven for overpriced midnight munchie runs by the weekend. This leads to my other point…

People think you’re cheap

Well, shake and freakin’ bake, yes I am – on most of the things. I’m guessing the majority of people who end up with excess wealth is because they were shrewd and responsible with it in the first place.

External

Last stop of the tour! Systematic downsides! Ding!

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 McDonalds because he only got one napkin?4

Lonelier near the top

A lot of our friendships are based on similarities in relation to socioeconomic standing. Becoming rich 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. And that’s officially when you transform…like sailor moon…into a personal finance blogger. Mystery solved~


Disclaimer: having money is still really, really awesome. I take these problems over being super broke any day, any time. Have you ever given a friend money? What is your policy on friend, money and going into business? Have you ever experienced impostor syndrome?

  1. http://fortune.com/2015/12/04/yahoo-marissa-mayer-severance/
  2. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/roiphe/2013/03/backlash_against_sheryl_sandberg_and_marissa_mayer_why_do_we_hate_powerful.html
  3. https://www.financialsamurai.com/what-is-the-average-audit-rate-by-income-level/
  4. http://www.eonline.com/news/515978/a-man-is-suing-mcdonald-s-for-1-5-million-because-they-only-gave-him-one-napkin


42 thoughts on “When Having Too Much Money is Bad”

  • 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. 🙁
    GYM recently posted…PF Blog Round Up: September 2017 Dividends Edition

  • 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.
    Laurie@ThreeYear recently posted…Interview with Mr. ThreeYear

  • 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.
    Mrs. Kiwi @ KiwiAndKeweenaw.com recently posted…Frugal Pack Challenge – Audit Your Time

    • 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.

  • 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..

  • 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.
    Turning Point Money recently posted…My Financial Mistakes

    • 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.

  • 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. 😉
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…What Weight Loss & Debt Payoff Have In Common

    • 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!!!

  • 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.
    Joe @ Retire by 40 recently posted…My Annual Property Tax Gripe

  • 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!
    Mrs. Adventure Rich recently posted…#FinCon17 – Here I Come!

    • 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.

  • 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 🙂
    Dave @ Married with Money recently posted…Hiring Movers Kept Us Sane on Moving Day

  • 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.
    Brad – MaximizeYourMoney.com recently posted…How To Avoid A Christmas Budget-Buster

  • “[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.
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…Hail Asian American Financial Bloggers!

  • “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.
    Mr. Blockchain recently posted…The Greatest Things That Andreas Antonopoulos Has Ever Said, Part 2

    • 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.

  • 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.
    Sylvia | Mommy Over Work recently posted…Save Hundreds with this Best Cheap Web Hosting Hack

  • 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:)

  • 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.
    Dave recently posted…NFL Games: Fun, but Expensive

  • 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!

  • 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.

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