Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

What kinds of psychological issues does wealth bring you?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) October 13th, 2012

I don’t know if there are any millionaires here, but I’ve been reading about wealth over on Quora and HuffingtonPost. It made me wonder how people change when their wealth grows larger. For some, that might mean getting a job that pays and extra 10K a year. For others, that might mean making a million, or 10 million or 100 million.

How does that change you? How do your worries change? How do you relate to people differently, if you do?

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21 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Zero, IF you’re already an authentic person. I had plenty of cash at one time lol and everyone I knew told me that I had not changed a bit. I just became more of what I already am, a generous and fun loving, spread around the joy type!

Kardamom's avatar

Depending upon how you gained your wealth (inheritance vs earning for example) you could develop a lot of guilt.

There is also a potential for developing guilt if you end up with a lot more money than you had before, and you’d like to enjoy spending it on fun things, yet at the same time you might feel the need to donate some or a lot or all of it to charity.

I personally, would be somewhat afraid of people wanting to rob me or take advantage of me, so I might become a little bit paranoid and a lot more wary of other people.

You could also become one of those people who ends up shunning their old friends and relatives if they feel like they have been asking for too much in loans or gifts.

I think I would become more of a giver to my friends, loved ones and relatives and charities, but I would also be a little bit more worried about people (not those just listed) trying to scam me or rob me.

jaytkay's avatar

I think anorexia is pretty much a middle-class-and-up problem. Same with a lot of “allergies”.

Poor people don’t have time for that stuff.

woodcutter's avatar

They may learn paranoia because of class envy of the ‘little people”

YARNLADY's avatar

Me personally? My husband and I have taken on more and more financial responsibility of other family members as his income has grown and it scares me a lot. What if something happened to him? 10 people would be thrown out in the street.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know but I wouldn’t mind finding out! ;-)

Tachys's avatar

My feeling is that wealth can destroy people. I think it causes introspection. When money is no longer a worry, one starts to think more about what kind of person they are and what their purpose in life is. The results can be devastating.

JLeslie's avatar

I really liked the Quora discussion, the Huffing Post didn’t load for me, so I was not able to read it yet.

Similar to what someone wrote on Quora towards the beginning, it takes probably 8 figures to really feel free and like you never have to work again, so that would be the most life changing. For me as we (my husband and I) have gone up and up in income over the years, and grown our savings, and freed ourselves from bills (everything is paid off expect one car, I think it is < $300 a month on a lease) what has changed for me is I do spend money more easily than before.

My instinct is to save not spend. I like the security of having money in the bank. Once I finally had enough money in the bank that I felt like we could go a year without working and still be fine, I started to change my spending thoughts, my spending habits still lagged behind a little. I was just not dwelling as much on making spending decisions. Then as our savings still increased and even our salaries were increasing, my habits even began to change. Spend a little more on a car, spend a little more on a nicer hotel, but still what changed most was how I felt about the spending. I needed less time to decide to spend money, and much less post spending buyers remorse. Still, I do not spend anywhere close to level I could if I wanted too.

Also, having money in the bank so to speak, my mind is so much more open to wanting to have experiences and being willing to spend for the experience, and for convenience. I really did not increase much the material things I want to own and buy, but I want to travel more, I’ll pay the stupid entrance fee to go to an art show or home show, I’ll pay the high price for the flight to not have to connect or take a 6am flight.

Also, because of the money we have my husband can pursue his hobby, car racing, which is rather expensive, but we do it the cheapest way possible in our club. It runs about $10k a year after you buy the car (which one can buy for as little $20k) so it is not a crazy amount of money, but it stoll boggles my mind we have such an expensive hobby, considering how I grew up. The racing also serves sort of as a vaction for me, so the money kind of covers vacations as well.

I think if we had $3—$5 million we would take a shot at our own business, my husband could quit and we would try it. We are not anywhere close to the amount of wealth. Being upper middle class we are kind of locked into my husband making very good money in his corporate job, and it is hard to walk away from that, and take the risk.

We still very much are frugile in many ways. My husband still darns a sock or too (which I think is crazy). I make him lunch for work every day, primarily because he doesn’t like spending the money for restaurant food. We don’t buy a lot of clothes, My husband sometimes cuts my hair, I sometimes dye my own hair, I do my own nails, all sorts of spending I don’t do that many of my friends regularly do.

I think poor people maybe take risks more because they have nothing much to lose, and the wealthy take risks, because even if they lose they still have plenty of money to live on, but the middle class it seems to me would be the most locked in psychologically to wanting to maintain what they have; a more precarious situation. But, everything is relative of course. Someone who was very poor all their lives might feel rich at their first million, while someone who grew up middle class, might feel like their first million is just the beginning of making towards being rich.

serenade's avatar

I wouldn’t call it wealth, but I came into excess discretionary money through a relationship where frugality was a foreign concept. Probably the most significant shift in my thinking was coming to the realization that I didn’t have to choose between two things anymore because I could have both things. The moment of making that shift was interesting, because the last thing to go was simply the idea in my head.

The other revelation was part that my stuff started to own me and part that I had finally experienced “enough” and “too much.” It’s easy to see now why people who have not experienced either of those are still chasing greater material satisfaction, but once you get there and get used to it (at least when I did) it gives you the mental freedom to sink to whatever level is “enough.”

Coloma's avatar

@Tachys I totally disagree about finding oneself to be devastating. I took a 2 year sabbatical from working to work on my spiritual and psychological growth and to just be, and learn to enjoy and embrace solitude and not constantly doing.
Having the money to do this was invaluable to my health and growth.
Again, wealth only makes people more of what they already are, just like alcohol and quite frankly, in my experience, I lost several friends who could not contain their envy and jealousies at my good fortune.

Bottom line, those that claim money is evil and it changes others are usually suffering from a hefty dose of sour grapes.
I found out who my true friends were, those that were happy for me, celebrated my good fortune and supported me in my choice to check out of the mainstream and those that became nasty and jealous and couldn’t conceal their jealousies.

Jaxk's avatar

I did find that it changed my relationships with friends. Not that I lost any friends but I had to consider the financial impact of things I could afford vs what they could afford. My tastes did change. A night out for dinner was no longer at Denny’s. A round of golf was no longer at the local municipal course. It is not always acceptable to just say ‘I’ll Pay’. I would occasionally tell them the company is paying and then just pay for it myself but you have to keep in mind that everyone has pride and if it appears you are throwing your money in their face, it will cost you.

Still, I liked having money better than not having it.

Shippy's avatar

I was very generous when I was wealthy. I gave most of it away.

Coloma's avatar

@Shippy Yes, me too. I love being generous, it makes me happy to do nice things for others. Everyone deserves a break and if you get one you should share. :-)

wundayatta's avatar

We have always been frugal and saved as much as we could. We don’t take a lot a fancy vacations and when we take one, we try to do it as inexpensively as possible. We had children late, and now, the oldest is about to go to college, and we’re trying to spend as much as possible on our house so that we don’t have much we have to spend on college. We’re hoping that our daughter will get into a school that gives you what you need.

Still, for years we bought the minimum cable. And we didn’t buy cell phones. And now we have the complete cable package and I, at least, have an all you can use plan for data and texting. I don’t have to worry about phone calls since I hate making them. Or maybe I just don’t have any friends, and I don’t need to make calls for my work.

But our main expenditure that we can afford now is having my wife not work. Since she made most of the money, that is pretty expensive. So I find myself thinking about spending in a way I haven’t in a decade or so.

I think it would take having about ten million dollars before I started to feel comfortable enough to do whatever I wanted. I don’t think I would do much more than I do now, though. Probably a few more vacations, or maybe more expensive vacations, since work keeps me from vacationing as much as I want.

I would feel comfortable giving away more money, I think, but I’m still not sure that much money would make me feel relaxed.

As to dealing with other people’s attitudes, I don’t think it would be too much of a problem. I don’t think people would really know how much money we had. We tend not to be flashy. We have an old home, and spend a lot taking care of it, but most of that is on underlying systems that you don’t see, like insulation or heating or roofing or painting or brick work. We haven’t even painted the inside except for maybe five or six rooms in the twenty years we’ve been here. We’ve never painted the living room or our bedroom or my study. Hmph!

I do take friends out and pay for them if they can’t afford it, or can’t pay, for whatever reason. It’s not a bother at all. That’s nice. And they don’t mind me doing it, which I think is even nicer, since a lot of people would refuse to do something fun rather than risk having to deal with pride issues. My friends know it doesn’t mean anything if I pay or they pay. We like to keep things even, but if that’s not possible, no one uses it for an advantage of some kind. We’re all a little bit communist, I think. Everyone wants to be generous, but no one is afraid the take, either.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Pretty much I think like you and live like that too, but the one difference is when my husband took up the car racing, now from the outside I think people assume we have a lot of money. Everything else about us had been quite frugal before we started that about 5 years ago. I wonder how much money people think we have? I have a feeling they think it is more than it really is. We don’t have kids, so having a luxury car isn’t much more than the average family spends on school, especially if the children go to private school, which is very common where I live now.

Generally, I can’t spend money on something new when the old thing is still working, that feels like wasting money to me. My husband sometimes gives me a nudge to go ahead and get somethng new, but even he is tends to be like me on most material things (except car related things).

Do you think being very frugal is what gave you the freedom that you enjoy now? The money you have now? Or, do you think increases in income had the most impact?

Also, are most of your friends middle class or upper class? I think it is difficult for extreme social class differences to be close friends. Well, emotionally close yes, but to be tgether a lot, be able to talk about everything without worrying about the other persn’s financial situation. @Jaxk mentioned it, that you have to think about what you are saying. Like I can’t talk about all my travel, or the new car my husband bought, or complain about the guy who does my lawn, if the other person can barely pay their rent.

Tachys's avatar

@Coloma I wrote the results can be devastating, not that they are devastating….

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie We’ve been best friends with a couple where he was a doctor and she is a therapist. He passed away a little over a year ago, and she is trying the dating scene again, and is having a lot of money issues. She is pretty comfortable. In addition to what her husband made, she inherited from her parents. So if she wants to fly off to a poetry conference on a moment’s notice, she can. And she does.

She has decided she wants a man of similar wealth to herself. She doesn’t want to be treating a man all the time. Unfortunately, the men who are as wealthy as she is tend not to get her. They are businessmen and used to being in control, and she is a poet, and is political and liberal and they are all Republicans. So it’s not really working.

I think one of the reasons she feels comfortable around us is that we can afford to go to restaurants if we want to. Sometimes she makes noises about not going to too expensive places, but the reason we don’t go is because we don’t necessaryily want to spend the money; not that we can’t afford it. But we’re self sufficient, unlike her son, and make no demands on her, and offer her comfort.

Most of the rest of our friends are more middle middle class. They are also mostly artists of various types. People are comfortable, but not necessarily secure. So I would say they tend to be middle to upper middle class and artistic or intellectual, and involved in professions in health care or psychology or politics. They are like us, but they are like us mostly in terms of beliefs and spiritual outlook on life, not so much wealth, although they happen to be within a fairly similar wealth range. That’s just a guess, of course, since no one talks about their net worth.

I think being frugal is what gave us the security we have. We’ve been very careful about our finances and both of us are very much into saving, not spending. Our incomes have increased over our lives, but not very dramatically. And of course, lately, it is much diminished, since my wife has retired.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I think education and interests among friends are a big factor, probably more than wealth, as long as the wealth difference is not very extreme. A blue collar worker can make as much money a year as white collar, but their interests might be very different. All generalizations of course, not necessarily so. A lot of my friends in MI liked to go fishing and camping, barely any of my friends in FL did either of those things, and incomes were not very different.

I would think your friend would be able to find men who appreciate the arts, even if they are corporate guys if they were raised in wealth. Middle class maybe not, unless they live in a city like NYC, but the wealthy, old money, tend to enjoy some contact with the arts. Don’t get me wrong, I think her type of man is more difficult to find, but not i possile. It would have a lot to do with where someone lives I think.

wundayatta's avatar

Don’t forget, they have to be liberal, too. Republican politics are anathema to her, as they are to all my friends.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I would think near city centers you could find some liberals with some money, or college towns.

ucme's avatar

“Which monetary denomination should I wipe my arse with today?”

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