Money is coveted by people all over the world. Most of us dream of what our life would be like if we suddenly came into a lot of money. We think of all of the items that we could buy, we imagine all of the expensive vacation destinations that we could visit, and we fantasize about all of the experiences that we could live. We picture ourselves paying off our parents’ debt, or building our significant other the house of their dreams. Money is only associated with positives in our minds. We rarely stop to think about how being rich could make us miserable.
It’s an unfortunate truth that money doesn’t equal happiness. We’ve all heard the stories of lottery winners who felt unhappy weeks after winning the jackpot, or of heirs to large fortunes becoming depressed after inheriting such wealth. Money can’t shield us from all of life’s ills. In fact, money can bring with it new problems that we aren’t prepared to face. Money can be a blessing and a curse. It can rid us of debt, or it can bring further debt upon us. Consider these other ways that making a lot of money can leave you feeling miserable before you buy your next lottery ticket.
15. People want to befriend you for your money
It can be difficult to know who your real friends are when you make a lot of money. Rich people attract the attention of parasites, people who latch onto them to benefit from their hefty bank accounts. Relatives who couldn’t give you the time of day are suddenly dying to see you. High school friends who you haven’t spoken to in ages come out of the woodwork and claim to have always loved you. Earning a lot of money might make you doubt every relationship in your life. While relationships solidified before you made money might be genuine, new relationships will naturally seem suspect.
14. Things that make you a lot of money are no longer enjoyable
Interestingly, money can have a negative effect on your enjoyment of an activity. This negative relationship between money and enjoyment has to do with intrinsic motivation. When we participate in an activity because we’re inherently interested in it, that activity is intrinsically motivating to us. Being paid to do something that you enjoy decreases your intrinsic motivation, making the activity seem less enjoyable. The activity now becomes a job to you rather than a leisure pursuit thanks to being associated with a monetary reward. For example, if I like to read for pleasure, chances are high that I’ll no longer want to read for pleasure if I suddenly start getting paid a lot of money to read.
13. You pay more taxes
It’s no secret that when you earn more money, you pay more taxes. If you haven’t set enough money aside to pay those taxes, then the massive sum presented to you on your tax return might seem overwhelming. Wealthy people’s taxes also increase because they no longer qualify for tax deductions and credits that poorer people benefit from. You can kiss college tuition credits goodbye when you earn enough money to afford to pay for your children’s education out of pocket. Paying more taxes can be especially frustrating if you live in a province or state where tax dollars go into other people’s pockets rather than into infrastructure or public institutions.
12. You realize that money can’t solve all of your problems
Once you make a lot of money, you realize that money isn’t the solution to all of life’s problems. In fact, there appears to be a threshold for how much money can increase your happiness. Many researchers put that threshold around $75,000 USD; beyond that point, earning more money doesn’t make you happier. Other researchers suggest that the threshold varies for each person, and that happiness doesn’t increase beyond the point where you earn enough money to satisfy your particular needs. Either way, money doesn’t repair your fractured relationship with your family, or make your problems with your significant other go away.
11. You get pressured to donate your time and money
With money comes solicitation from charities, Kickstarter campaigns, and fundraising galas. Once you start making a lot of money, your phone starts blowing up with requests for donations. You might receive pressure from friends and family to financially support their business ideas and projects. It might be difficult for you to say no to these requests, bringing stress into your life that wasn’t there before you became wealthy. Whether you choose to support a charity or not, you won’t be able to satisfy all of the requests for your time and money. Constantly feeling like you’re disappointing someone is a recipe for misery if I ever heard one.
10. Your creativity goes down the drain
Nothing kills creativity quite like money. Often, to make a lot of money, you have to sacrifice the opportunity to exercise your creativity in exchange for the tried and true approach. Harlequin romance writers, for example, must stick to a very specific script if they want to publish under that imprint. Do they go off-script and try their luck with another publisher, or do they stick to what sells and make a lot of money writing a traditional romance novel? Knowing that you have to choose between being creative and being rich can put a damper on any happiness that money brings.
9. You worry about who you’ll leave your money to
When you make a lot of money, you naturally become concerned about who to leave your money to when you die. If you have multiple children, for example, the process can become complicated. You worry about being fair to each child. You dread the idea that your children will fight over your will. Deciding how to divide your possessions can be stressful, especially if you want to leave a sum of money or piece of property to a charitable organization. The thought that your family might not approve can cause you undue anxiety, leaving you more miserable than when you had no money to leave behind.
8. People want to sue you
Wealthy people are often the target of lawsuits. Lawsuits are extremely stressful, not to mention expensive. Owners of large companies are sued for millions of dollars because people know that they have the money to pay them. They count on these companies settling for large sums of money outside of court to avoid negative publicity. You don’t even have to be sued to feel the negative effects of making a lot of money. Just the thought of being the target of a lawsuit can keep you up at night. Reduced sleep will only further decrease your well-being. No one wants to feel like they have to spend the rest of their life looking over their shoulder.
7. Your social relationships suffer
Social problems seem to be an unfortunate consequence of making a lot of money. Research on wealth has shown that rich people have worse social relationships than people who earn less money. One possible reason for this is that people who have a lot of money don’t need to ask others for help. They feel that money makes them self-sufficient, and so reduce their social contact. Trust issues might be another reason for rich people’s social problems. As I mentioned earlier, it can be difficult to trust whether your relationships are genuine or based on money. You might distance yourself from others as a consequence.
6. You have less empathy for others
Money and compassion don’t appear to go hand in hand. Making a lot of money has been associated with a lack of empathy for other people. Perhaps this is because people who pursue wealth are naturally more narcissistic. Or is it the money that changes people for the worse? Research suggests that rich people are less likely to participate in social events, donate money, and help others. Think of Ebenezer Scrooge, for example. Since prosocial behaviour is associated with happiness and other positive moods, a lack of empathy brought on by wealth can be expected to put you in a less cheerful mood.
5. You behave more immorally
Wealthy people might have more sins to confess than poorer people after all. Researchers have found that money can lead people to behave immorally. For example, drivers of luxury cars are less likely to grant pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks than drivers of less expensive cars. This increase in immoral behaviour might be related to the decrease in empathy associated with making a lot of money. If you don’t care about others, then you have no problem taking advantage of them or harming them in any way. Immoral behaviour is closely tied to illegal behaviour; therefore, an increase in immoral behaviour can bring you fines, misery, and jail time.
4. You’re more likely to develop a substance abuse problem
According to research, rich people outdrink poor people by almost 30%. Alcohol can be pricey, and rich people can afford to buy more alcohol than poor people can. The temptation to binge drink becomes greater for rich people. The more you drink, however, the more likely you are to develop a substance abuse problem. Substance abuse brings misery to you and to the people around you. It can damage relationships, negatively impact your health, and lead to further mental illness. It can even contribute to the loss of all of the money that you made. Substance abuse can really change a person’s life for the worse.
3. You can become addicted to making money
Making money can easily become a compulsion. It starts with staying an hour later at work every day to close a few more business deals. Then you find yourself giving up your weekends to finish up a few projects so that you can begin a new one on Monday. Soon, you’ve become a slave to the dollar. You might become so addicted to the feeling of making a lot of money that you sacrifice all other pursuits in order to increase your income. Giving up family and leisure time in favour of making more money can leave you feeling empty and unhappy, not to mention stressed.
2. Your children risk being troubled
Often, the problems of the rich are visited on their children. Research has shown that children of wealthy parents suffer from a host of mental health issues. They’re more likely to internalize their problems, which leads to the development of anxiety and depressive disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders. These problems may stem from pressure to excel in school, in sports, and in everything that they do. Feelings of isolation can also contribute to these problems. Parents who make a lot of money spend a lot of time away from their children, working long hours or going away on business trips. You might want to leave your children with the number of a psychologist before you go.
1. People see you as “evil”
Rich people are often characterized as villains by society. Think of Mr. Burns, or Dollar Bill Spencer on the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful. Poorer people tend to judge wealthier people negatively, stereotyping them as cold or unfeeling. Rich people are envied and distrusted; people cheer when their rich neighbours struggle. It can feel horrible to be misjudged based solely on your wealth. Making a lot of money suddenly casts a stigma on you that you may not have been prepared to face. If feeling as if everyone hates you doesn’t leave you miserable, then I don’t know what will.
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