What It Feels Like to Have Lots of Money

My feelings of safety and immortality quickly gave way to scarcity. After all, I thought, if I could make 10 million dollars then it must be too easy. In fact, I honestly thought, everyone else had probably already made 11 million dollars. So then I felt poor again. I now needed 100 million dollars to be happy. I drove in a car with a friend of mine and his wife. I said, “everyone has 10 million dollars now.” She quickly said, “not everyone.” — James Altucher

There’s a fascinating thread on Quora asking, “What does it feel like to be financially rich?” The responses are revealing. Take author and investor James Altucher, who explains why a rich person with $10 million would feel poor, and how he had to be reminded that he’s not actually poor. (Live the life you want to live and stop comparing yourself to others or you’ll never be happy.)

Here’s another excerpt of an interesting response by Mona Nomura, who works in the tech industry:

When my parents finally divorced, she left my brother and me with our dad and succeeded career wise. So much so, she retired in her early 40s. After she attained what she thought was success, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She spent the days up until her death regretting almost all the choices she made and beat herself up day after day. One of her last journal entries included reflections on how unappreciative she was with the things in front of her, and finally realizing happiness does not lie within superficial matters a little too late.

More responses can be found in the thread. [Thanks to Katie for the link pointing me to this.]

Photo of James Altucher: Wikimedia Commons

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9 Comments / Post A Comment

j a y (#3,935)

I promise to feel rich forever if someone gives me a million bucks!

Heck, I feel rich right now, comparatively speaking – I can basically eat whenever I want to, and I can afford to start buying furniture now. It’s only security I think that’s lacking. If I magically had a million bucks, my life wouldn’t really change other than not working, I’d just feel more secure in my modest-but-happy lifestyle.

$1M = $25k/year for a good long time!

garysixpack (#4,263)

@j a y
$25k a year really isn’t a lot to live on, especially when you have a family. And if you’re young enough to think $25k is enough to live on, then you’ll probably still have years left after you exhaust your initial $1M. Then what will you do?

j a y (#3,935)

@garysixpack Yeah, I realize that, but I’m single and my expenses are super low… roughly $1100/month all-in for necessities and car (although, no car replacement included in that, just insurance and gas and repairs). I realized a long time ago that since I’ll never make a ton of money, the easiest way was to reduce expenses :)

With non-necessities factored in, I spent a grand total 30k last year, but that included a super expensive (for me) vacation for two.

So… assuming no interest on the $1M, that’s 40 years. After that, I’m in Canada and will be in my seventies so there’s old age pensions etc.

(look at me, planning on how things will be if I magically get a million bucks!)

And actually, I make more than I thought I would when I was younger and only making a salary of $32k (gross) but as I got older, my lifestyle hasn’t really changed. So I guess that’s why I feel ‘rich’ on a relatively middling income.

Meaghano (#529)

@j a y Once you pay the taxes on your imaginary capital gain (which would best-case scenario take your 40 years down to 30), that 25k/yr would be after taxes, which is basically like living on a $40k/yr salary — pretty doable!

j a y (#3,935)

@Meaghano In Canada, lotteries and inheritances (equally likely scenarios that are my only possibilities for a 1M windfall) aren’t taxed!

jquick (#3,730)

@j a y Where do you live that has such low cost of living?

j a y (#3,935)

@jquick I’m in a suburb of Ontario. The cost of living isn’t truly that low … I’m both lucky and don’t need things that are necessities to others… Like a car or supporting a family.

So the one major thing was that I rented and saved everything until I could almost buy a home outright and was lucky enough that the real estate market had not gotten quite to the point where it is today… Although five years earlier would’ve been better still.

Also I was lucky to have a job that I could get to without a car.. And doesn’t require maintaining a professional image. I used to walk an hour or so to save the bus fare too!

So my housing and transportation costs are very low. And I have some solitary tendencies that keep the social spending low. I used to only buy food that was around $1/lb (raw ingredients on sale)… But unfortunately that went out the window a while ago… It’s the one area I’ve had significant lifestyle and belly creep.

But basically, I’m privileged now that my accumulated wealth(modest though it might be) is reducing my living expenses.

j a y (#3,935)

@j a y
Also on the luck/thankful front: no major setbacks (health, unemployment). Allow me this one off-topic rant: Despite my limited social circle, I’m close to 3 families (including my parents in their old age dealing with cancer) who would have been financially devastated without Canada’s socialized medicare. I don’t begrudge any of the taxes that make that happen. (along with schools, roads, infrastructure, poverty, etc)

jquick (#3,730)

Reading Altucher’s blog used to be the highlight of my reading/news day. Check out his stuff from over a year ago. Lately it hadn’t been as good. I guess we know his stories.

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