Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Does coming into a lot of money really change you?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26829points) April 30th, 2011

While walking home I passed a pizza sigh bouncer and he was powering his sound system with a portable solar cell device. I asked him where he got it from because I never seen anything like it on the Web or any tech sites. He said he made it many years ago. I asked him why didn’t he patent it and get it massed produced because he would not need to bounce a sign anymore for sure. He said he didn’t do it because he didn’t care about the money, that getting too much money changes people. Do you believe it is really the money itself that changes people or the people change themselves by how they perceive the money, or their relation to it? In other words, do people start to think of themselves differently because of the money? In reality money like knives and firearms are helpful or hurtful by how the possessor uses them.

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23 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

When it happens I’ll get back to you.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I suspect that it often appears that money changes someone’s personality, but that it is really driven by what is/was already there.

In the scenario you provided, maybe the guy is content in coming up with innovations and doesn’t wand to deal with the hassle of all of the other aspects. It takes a great deal of time and effort to launch and then manage a product or service, much less a company.

wundayatta's avatar

Sure it changes you. It has to. You’ve got to learn to deal with money in a way you have no experience with. You have to worry about keeping the money and investing it, and you get people who try to take advantage you, and you probably get taken advantage of, and then you get suspicious of people who want something from you, etc.

Then again, every experience changes you, so coming into a lot of money isn’t much different from any other experience.

yankeetooter's avatar

I second @woodcutter. But, yeah, I’m sure it would. I’ll give a parallel. I quit my second job about 6 weeks ago. When I started considering doing so, I thought, I’ll have so much time to get stuff done that has been on the back burner. However, faced with this wealth of time (like the money in the question), I have been very lazy. You could say I have been frivolous with my timem since quitting, and that’s not who I usually am. Whill there wear off? I certainly hope so…

My point is that faced with a sudden wealth of something, be it money, time, or whatever, I think it changes us in some way…

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@wundayatta I whole-heartedly agree with what you are saying. There are some people though, that prefer not to take on handling the financial aspect and want nothing to do with it.

Billy Joel is one example. He’s handled that responsibility over to more than one manager who took advantage of his lack of interest and thought that they could get away with it. There are stories of people who win a lottery, and the money is gone quickly because they have no clue how to handle money responsibly and do not take the time to do so.

lillycoyote's avatar

It may change some people, I don’t know. I tend to agree with @Pied_Pfeffer in that it probably brings out something that already existed in the person, allows something that always existed in someone to flourish. That thing may be good or bad. I came into a little money when my dad died. I did some things for my friends that I couldn’t do before. It didn’t change me. I am what I have always been, just with a little more money than I used to have. But I have heard some stories of people that have won big in the lottery and it destroyed them though I am not convinced that they wouldn’t have found a way to let poverty destroy them too.

john65pennington's avatar

Have you ever watched the winners show on cable? These are big lottery winners and how having that much money, at one time, has ruined most of their lives. Not all, but most.

A person going through life without enough money to live on, is totally shocked when that big lottery win occurs. It changes most people.

Most winners never give it a thought to hire a PA or Public Accountant to manage their winnings. Some people can spend a million dollars in 30 days.

Having money is one thing, how you handle is another.

JLeslie's avatar

I think some of it depends on the money habits of the person coming into the money, and how poor they were when they received the windfall. Some, definitely not all, poor people havea poor mentality, they basically spend everything they earn, and then when they win money they spend like crazy.

Did you see the Oprah episode with her former regular guest Iyanla? That women was making millions and spent every penny. She said she felt like she had to spend everything to get the next paycheck, like when you are on welfare.

But, that doesn’t really answer if people change. I think there is a good chance people do change, but it is not necessarily bad. With money, and rising in social class, it is common to develop new interests, new ways to spend money. Before maybe the person went camping and fishing for vacation, or to a hotel within a few hours drive. Now, with more money it might be flying to a vacation destinations, or out of the country. This leads to more exposure to different cultures, different lifestyles.

Most people who come into money talk about family and friends coming to them for a loan or gift. This can change the dynamic of the relationship whether the person says yes or no. For some people it is hard to be around someone who has a lot more, so if the winner buys a new house, better clothes, more expensive cars, etc., it might become more difficult for some of their old friends to be around them.

GladysMensch's avatar

Regardless of how it changes the recipient, it most definitely changes those around the winner. A person who wins the lottery will likely receive phone calls from untold numbers of old friends: promises, marriage proposals, accusations, threats. People who used to volunteer to help do things will want money for their trouble. Family members expect the winners to “set them up”. It’s all but impossible, but I wouldn’t want anyone to know if I won the lottery.

Cruiser's avatar

I think so absolutely! Most people I know who now have a lot of money are wary of people who expect them to pay for everything.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Cruiser I am also blessed with very good friends who didn’t expect anything of me. That’s one of the reasons it was such a pleasure to be able to do things for them.

Cruiser's avatar

@lillycoyote I would also expect very good friends to be respectful of ones good fortune that is what makes them very good friends. I am referring to just friends, acquaintances and even relatives that see their richer friend, co-worker or relative as a chance for a free ride or free meal or loan they then don’t think they should have to pay back any time soon or at all for that matter. I hear about this all the time from my wealthy friends.

faye's avatar

I came into some money when my mom died. I gave the kids some, we all had a wonderful trip, I had 2 trips, and a bunch is invested. It took the ghost of future poverty off my back so I feel changed. Now that I can’t work, I’m back to living with the ghost of present poverty. I notice things like not taking kids out on birthdays, not buying food I want, items I want. So I would certainly say money changes people, into relaxed, happy people.

Kardamom's avatar

I think basic maturity and personality type play into it completely. If a person comes into a pile of money, but they are realistic and are mature, they can and will make good, practical use of the money.

Other people, who are not mature (no matter what their age) or wise, or frugal in the first place, are less likely to be practical about their money.

Also, other people are big partiers and frivolous shoppers when they are poor, those same people are the most likely to lose their money in a big and dramatic way, very quickly.

So no, I don’t think the money itself changes people. It just makes the way they already are (and the way they handle and use money) appear much bigger.

woodcutter's avatar

Hate to say this but I would be suspicious of those who wouldn’t give me the time of day before suddenly show up in my life as “just in the neighborhood”. Yeeeeeeah ,riiiight. I suppose it’s only part of the bad of human nature to try to get what others have if they have more of it.

Kardamom's avatar

@woodcutter But in that case, the money (that you came into) didn’t change you, it changed them.

woodcutter's avatar

@Kardamom True but in that sense I would always be unsure if anyone is being sincere unless they never knew of the windfall. So I would feel more comfortable with strangers then? Most of us are opportunistic to some degree. These “others” would be seeing me in a different light than before when there was nothing about me that interested them. I think that response can be switched on and off depending on the circumstances so it’s always there even if they aren’t aware of it. Since most of my life I’ve barely had two nickels to rub together to experience that kind of attention, it would strike me as quite profound quickly. The phoniness would scream out loud to me.

Kardamom's avatar

@woodcutter I completely agree with what you just said. You probably wouldn’t be able to trust anyone if you were the one who came into the money. When you’re poor, people like you or dislike you for exactly who you are.

JLeslie's avatar

What occurs to me reading this, is why would the assumption be the change is a bad thing? Let’s say people change, so what really? Everything that happens in our lives affects us, moves down a new path. Reluctance to the changes money can bring is another reason some cultures and families keep their children and relatives “back,” prvent them from being upwardly mobile. I find that unfortunate.

Kardamom's avatar

@JLeslie I think people automatically assume the worst when it comes to making changes because of money because of the awful selfish boobs who we see in the media every day. People like Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan who have tons of money, but squander it, break the law and treat people around them poorly. It’s just more “in your face.”

They don’t put the people who’ve inherited money or won money in the lottery on TV when those kind people have donted money to charity, or helped their families, or used the money to go to school and get an education. Those kinds of stories don’t end up on TMZ.

I’d like to think that if I ever came into money that I wouldn’t start smoking crack or hiring male escorts. I’m not interested in that now, so hopefully I wouldn’t be interested if I had the opportunity. Probably the most decadent thing I would do, is head straight to the fancy cheese section at Trader Joe’s.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom That crazy crap does not even occur to me. I find it disheartening that people have that type of image of rich people. When I think rich, I don’t think famous. Famous is a select few. Funny, where I live I hear those type of negative stereotypes about the poor: crackheads, selfish, squander money (I even touched on the money stereotype in my first answer) break the law.

I honestly think most people, poor, middle class or rich, are good people, not drug addicted, and not trying to hurt anyone, and not trying to hurt themselves.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@wundayatta You have to worry about keeping the money and investing it, and you get people who try to take advantage you, and you probably get taken advantage of, and then you get suspicious of people who want something from you, etc. Maybe that is one of the reasons when people get a lot of money they move to areas where people have similar incomes as themselves. Because they figure those people have what they have thus will be less incline to try and mooch off of them or rob them for the better stuff they have amassed.

Which lead to @JLeslie Most people who come into money talk about family and friends coming to them for a loan or gift. This can change the dynamic of the relationship whether the person says yes or no. For some people it is hard to be around someone who has a lot more, so if the winner buys a new house, better clothes, more expensive cars, etc., it might become more difficult for some of their old friends to be around them. What right is it for friends and family to expect to be handed anything from the receiver of the windfall just because they are related or have close ties? And if the winner or receiver decides to shop, eat, entertain at places they could not afford to before the money and their current friends can’t either the friends will be left out or the money person will have to pick up their slack; which can lead to resentment because they person getting help may not feel they have a voice in where they eat because it is not their money being spent.

Some might flaunt their wealth and fortune by buying a fancy car not because it was the car they wanted but because they feel it is a car that says “I am doing better than you”.

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central We are half agreeing. What you said to @wundayatta I agree with, part of the reason people tend to associate with people in similar economic circumstances is because financially people areon the same page more or less. Going to dinner, traveling, and more takes less consideration when doing these things with people who can afford the same things as you.

I agree that when someone has much more money they need to be willing to let he person with less sometimes dictate where to meat for dinner, or what circumstances suit everyone when meeting for a visit. Even if the wealthy person treats everyone everytime it can be very uncomfortable for those who never feel they have a say, might feel out of their element, or just have their ego hurt that they cannot afford more.

I guess some people do buy things just to show off, or feel better about themselves compared to others. They are looked down upon by old wealth as being Nouveau Riche, the new rich, and not knowing what the fuck to do with their money except spend it on flash. But, mostly the wealthy biy what they buy because they want it, not to make other people feel bad or small. It does make them feel goo inasmuch as they want the thing; the house, the car, the watch, the yacht; they want to enjoy what the money can buy.

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