Or as my friend jokes about my blog, I write a little "about this 'n' that 'n' some of that."
Below is a piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It got a lot of reader response, mostly from people who have no sympathy at all for the concerns of wealthy people . . . they just don't want to hear about them.
|KGO AM 810 in San Francisco|
As I point out, it's hard for any of us to summon up much sympathy for the wealthy. But what got me interested was a 2010 study by Princeton University economists which concluded, as you'd expect, that people in lower economic groups are not as happy as people who make more money. But beyond a certain level, more income does not produce more emotional well-being. The level is about $75,000 a year. So increasing your income up to that point does correlate with increased happiness. But beyond that, making more money just doesn't help.
I suppose there are a lot of reasons why not. But one seems to be that having more money does not necessarily cure you of your anxieties, or mean that you have fewer worries in your life.
So why do I bring it up now? Because I got a call from KGO AM 810 radio in San Francisco. Michael Finney has a show called "Consumer Talk," and he invited me to be interviewed on his show. So, if any of you are within earshot of San Francisco, tune in this Saturday, June 28, at 3:15 p.m., and you can hear me stutter and stammer my way through an interview about . . .
What Rich People Worry About
You might think that people with a lot of money would be immune from the everyday worries that gnaw at regular, middle-class people. And to some extent you'd be right. But they worry more than you think.
Here are eight money worries of the top ten percent:
Having enough money for retirement. A recent survey by Lincoln Financial Group showed that 53 percent of people surveyed worry about having enough money for retirement. So what about retirees who have over $1 million saved up for their golden years? Almost as many millionaires, 48 percent, admit that they worry about having enough money to live out their years in comfort. Apparently, having more does not relieve you of the anxiety about having enough.
Worries about health. You'd think that millionaires, with all their access to doctors, specialists and top hospitals, would worry less about their health. But they don't – or at least not by much. According to the same survey, 54 percent of millionaires worry about their health in retirement, compared to 57 percent of all those surveyed.
Being sued. According to surveys by Prince & Associates, fewer than 20 percent of people worth less than $1 million worry about being sued. But over 80 percent of people worth $20 million or more worry about being the target of a lawsuit. Perhaps they know – lawyers go where the money is.
Identity theft. Less than half of middle-class people are concerned about identity theft. But three quarters of wealthy people lose sleep over the issue. Probably for the same reason they worry about getting sued. Thieves want the identity of people with big bank balances, not those who have maxed out their credit cards.
Protecting assets. Wealthy people may not have to worry about their monthly electric bill, or even the cost of college tuition. But as a rule they have a sense of responsibility about their money, and so they spend time taking care of it. They worry about the Federal Reserve, foreign currencies, interest rates, stock prices, real estate. Even if they hire someone else to manage their affairs, they still worry about overseeing their portfolio and making sure the people they deal with have their best interests at heart.
Business responsibilities. We all worry about getting laid off. These days, the CEO can get fired just as easily as we can. Business leaders also worry about the impact of their decisions. It's bad enough if you get laid off, but how would like to be responsible for hundreds of other people losing their jobs? Then there's reputation risk. If we mess up, it's usually a private matter. But top figures in business, politics and sports all fail in public, with their shortcomings analyzed by critics from coast to coast.
Worries about kids. Rich people know that a large inheritance can undermine the ambition, and the dreams, of their children. Why take on the nasty realities of schoolwork and a job when you have access to a trust fund? The wealthy -- especially those who have made their own fortune -- know the answer even if their kids do not: In work there is self-confidence, self-worth, and a sense of accomplishment that no amount of money can provide.
Keeping up with the Joneses. Finally, we live in a competitive society. The brand name of your college, the zip code where you live, the car in your driveway, the place where you vacation – they all say something about your status in life. The wealthy tend to be more competitive than the rest of us, and so these things mean even more to them than they do to us. Keeping up with the Joneses – or the Buffets and the Gates – takes on a meaning that produces even more anxiety for them than it does for the rest of us.
Of course, it's hard to summon up too much sympathy for the rich -- most of us would love to have their problems. But still, just because you're wealthy doesn't always mean you live on Easy Street.