Sunday, March 24, 2013

Is getting rich all but worth it?

One anonymous user answered this one million dollar question recently on Quora which I thought was interesting and would like to share with the other readers.

I made $15m in my mid-20s after I sold a tech startup. I talked to a lot of people about this question, and thought a lot about how to stay the same person I was before and after making money.

Here's my answer: being rich is better than not being rich, but it's not nearly as good as you imagine it is.

The answer why is a bit more complicated.

First, one of the only real things being rich gives you is that you don't have to worry about money as much anymore. There will still be some expenses that you cannot afford (and you will wish you could), but most expenses can be made without thinking about what it costs. This is definitely better, without a doubt.

Being rich does come with some downsides, though. The first thing you are thinking reading that, is, "cry me a river". That is one of the downsides. You are not allowed to complain about anything, ever. Since most people imagine being rich as nirvana, you are no longer allowed to have any human needs or frustrations in the public eye. Yet, you are still a human being, but most people don't treat you like one.

There's the second downside. Most people now want something out of you, and it can be harder to figure out whether someone is being nice to you because they like you, or they are being nice to you because of your money. If you aren't married yet, good luck trying to figure out (and/or always having self doubt) about whether a partner is into you or your money.

Then you have friends & family. Hopefully your relationship with them doesn't sour, but it can get harder. Both can get really weird about it and start to treat you differently. They might come and ask for a loan (bad idea: if you give, always give a gift). One common problem is that they don't appreciate Christmas presents the way that they used to, and they can get unrealistic expectations for how large a present should be and be disappointed when you don't meet their unrealistic expectations. You have to start making decisions for your parents on what does and does not cost too much, and frankly, it's awkward.

Add all of these up and you can start to feel a certain sense of isolation.

You sometimes lay awake at night, wondering if you made the right investment decisions, whether it might all go away. You know that feeling standing on a tall building, the feeling you might lose your mind and jump? Sometimes you're worried that you might lose your mind and spend it all.

The next thing you need to understand about money is this: all of the things you picture buying, they are only worthwhile to you because you cannot afford them (or have to work really hard to acquire them). Maybe you have your eye on a new Audi -- once you can easily afford it, it just doesn't mean as much to you anymore.

Everything is relative, and you are more or less powerless to that. Yes, the first month you drive the Audi, or eat in a fancy restaurant, you really enjoy it. But then you sort of get used to it. And then you are looking towards the next thing, the next level up. And the problem is that you have reset your expectations, and everything below that level doesn't get you quite as excited anymore.

This happens to everyone. Good people can maintain perspective, actively fight it, and stay grounded. Worse people complain about it and commit general acts of douchebaggery. But remember this: it would happen to you, too, even though you might not think so. You'll just have to trust me on this one.

Most people hold the illusion that if only they had more money, their life would be better and they would be happier. Then they get rich, and that doesn't happen, and it can throw them into a serious life crisis.

If you're part of the middle class, you have just as many opportunities to do with your life what you want of it. If you're not happy now, you won't be happy because of money.

Whether you're rich or not, make your life what you want it to be, and don't use money as an excuse. Go out there, get involved, be active, pursue your passion, and make a difference.


  1. i agree or believe most of what he says. In China, there are people who have risen from rags to multi-millionaires yet found no happiness. Some even got disillusioned and committed suicides. i wonder how much truth is in the report.
    But i believe if a man only lives for this world (non-believer in GOD)then i don't believe he can find peace & happiness in this world.

    1. Hi Temperament

      I agree with your sentiment.

      Even though people got richer, money will always be an issue. The idea is to live life as long as money is able to pay off the basic necessities.

    Around 15% of the world's population are agnostic or atheist. That's a big number of people that choose to be unhappy if Temperament's belief is true.

    I think majority of the atheists are darn good at finding peace and happiness, knowing that we only have a short time in this one world.

    I'm almost 22, and i am pretty happy.

    Great article.

    1. Hi Dan

      I believe the more religious person you are, the more you won't associate yourself with issue in money, and hence find happiness out of it.

  3. Perhaps, everyone of us has different outlook on what is peace and what is happiness.
    Just let it be. Just let it be.

  4. I wrestled with questions very similar to these when I decided to sell an annuity and very quickly had more money than I knew what to do with; I couldn't agree more with the sentiments you've discussed here. Rich or poor, the only thing that can truly change your unhappiness is your perspective, whatever that might mean to you.

    1. Hi Hailey

      Thanks for visiting my site.

      Many people don't realize how easier it is changing your perspective than changing your fortune, and hence changing your happiness lifestyle.

  5. Thanks for sharing this article, its been a really great read! I've never thought about reading about how can i get rich? I'm really excited and anxious to understand it and get some more money and learn some more about finances. Thanks again for sharing!

    1. Hi Holly

      Glad you like the article.

      Definitely opens up our mind of how do we perceive richness.

  6. Thanks for posting this article. It definitely helps to see our ideas of happiness thrown into a new life. I've occasionally heard the question of "how can I get rich?". While I want to be rich too, being happy is far different from being rich.

    1. Hi Jackrider

      You;re welcome. Being happy is far more difficult to attain than being rich as well, when actually everyone can do it.