What I (Would Probably) Hate About Being Filthy Rich


I need to start off with the disclaimer that I am not actually filthy rich. I don’t even think that I would want to be.

Sure, rolling around in giant piles of dollar bills would be fun at first. Buying caviar and Wagyu beef might give me a kick for a while as well. However, I think I would eventually end up hating being so rich that I could bathe in the finest champagne and buy my own islands.

The Guilt Factor

Wouldn’t you just feel a little bit guilty about having so much money when a quarter of the world’s population lives below or around the poverty line? In fact, 40% of the people who live on this planet only receive 5% of its total income. I remember being amazed when I walked around the streets of Rio on a trip to Brazil. The gulf in finances between the inhabitants of the city is staggering. You can see houses that look as though they have been flown in straight from Hollywood very close to the most miserable shacks you’ll ever see. The thing is; I never felt any jealousy towards the people with the fancy houses. Instead, I felt bad about having so much more than the rest of the inhabitants. I can’t imagine being happy knowing that I have way more money than I need and more than the vast majority of humans who have ever lived.

The Obsession with Money

I have only known a couple of guys who were genuinely fantastically rich. I worked in a bank in Spain for a while and two of my customers had sold businesses in their home countries and bought amazing mansions out there as holiday homes. At first they seemed like nice guys but after meeting them a couple of times I realized that they were absolutely obsessed with their cash. They would complain more bitterly about a small bank charge than my customers who had far less money in their accounts. I think that it is probably a good idea to have enough money to be comfortable and to be able to forget about financial worries. However, I think that there is a worry that if you get too much of the folding stuff you could end up becoming even more driven and becoming obsessed about getting more and more of it.

The Bad Attitude

Those two rich bank customers I mentioned earlier were pretty arrogant and unlikeable. They clearly thought that they were better than everyone else and I can remember one of them being very condescending about poor people when speaking to me once. I am sure that you can easily think of a few rich celebrities who seem like they also have a really bad attitude. Yet, before I label all rich dudes as selfish morons I need to consider the astonishing philanthropy of people like Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffett and Ted Turner. So why does having so much money have such different effects on people? One theory is that once you are rich you feel freer to do and say whatever you please. This means that your existing personality traits are magnified. If you are a generous person and are free from the shackles of your loans and your mortgage then maybe you will decide that starting a charity is a good idea. Alternatively, maybe you are a bit vain and selfish and will get so wrapped up in your own self-importance that you become an utter moron. For me, the risk of it going the wrong way just seems too high to take.

The Verdict

I would love to try being amazingly rich for a week or so but don’t really want to have so much money for the rest of my life. If you ever win a massive lottery prize or make a billion on the stock market then let me know how it works out, though.

12 Responses to What I (Would Probably) Hate About Being Filthy Rich

  1. kammi says:

    No offence, but this is kind of a superficial broad analysis of the rich. From my personal experience, you get a wide range of people. The ‘sorta rich’ were always the snobbiest, fakest, rudest from my experience because they always want to ACT like they have something to prove. The truly filthy rich (and I’ve met a few of those growing up; like Forbes 500 rich) are not like that. If anything, they’re stand-offish because everyone seems to WANT something from them. People come out of the woodworks. People expect that you should GIVE because you have so much more than they do. They appreciate their privacy and are used to efficiency. That’s why they care so much about money; they have a DISDAIN for incompetence and little tolerance for that stuff, which comes off as rude, but it’s just being curt.
    A lot of the time, it’s really very hard for them to spend on islands (unless they’re in the wannabe/nouveau category) because they’re too busy building companies, selling companies, etc. Most end up re-investing into their businesses (you HAVE to to keep up). They’re workaholics, too; they’re the people you can never get to take a break (the ones I’ve met, anyways).Quite the opposite of your theory; most super rich people I’ve met you would NEVER know WERE super rich. Some are embarrassed by the magnitude of their wealth. How would you feel always being afraid that you or your loved ones might be kidnapped because now EVERYONE can look up high net worth individuals? I’ve had a few friends like this; they can’t go ANYWHERE without being afraid that someone is going to either kidnap or do something worse to those they love. It’s a constant source of worry; I had a friend who had to call every time she left to and from anywhere outside of home because her parents were so afraid of her being kidnapped. In the end, people are just people. That’s just my opinion.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Thanks Kammi. It seems to be a subject that attracts a lot of interesting and heart felt opinions. My article was based on the things I would hate about being filthy rich, which is why I focussed on the negatives. Now, if you get me started on the things I would love about it then I reckon there’s enough to make another article out of it. I’d still settle for being financially healthy rather than a billionaire, though. The security fears is a good point too

  2. I think I could handle it.

  3. This is a very interesting take on being rich from a finance blogger – thanks for sharing! I think that to whom much is given much is expected. SO, for me, I would love to be rich, but I do not think it would be easier by any means. I also think that become rich by way of earning the money versus a windfall is hugely different. The former is more manageable; the latter is much harder. So, I prefer to become rich on my own rather than winning the lottery.

    • Robert Bell says:

      Thanks Natalie. I think that being financially stable and independent is a fantastic thing but I simply don’t like the idea of being filthy rich. Maybe it’s just me 🙁

  4. I am pretty frugal so I would likely be bothered by some of the higher expenses Id face. Higher property taxes from living in a bigger home and higher broker fees from using a more expensive broker are some of the things that would likely bother me if I was wealthy

    • Robert Bell says:

      Good points Dan. I guess you need to bite the bullet and some point and accept that having more money means paying out more on certain things

  5. Your point about money magnifying personality traits may be valid, but I do think you need to look at what it takes to be extremely successful. You have to be driven, a perfectionist, bold, a tough negotiator and willing to p*** people off. I’m not saying you should burn bridges, but even Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have rubbed people the wrong way. I think it also makes perfect sense that your rich client would complain about a bank change more than a less wealthy client. He likely pays attention to where all his money is going with an eagle eye, and perhaps became wealthy because he was frugal and watched for places where money leaked out of his account(s). Ultimately, I’d love to be filthy rich. It gives you so much ability to make changes in the world!

    • Robert Bell says:

      Thanks for the interesting comments BM. There is certainly a difference in the mentality between rich and poor people. How many rich people have lost it all and then went out and made a fortune all over again?

  6. I don’t think I’d fall into any of the above traps. Although I think there may be a difference in perspective depending upon if you were “born” into money vs being a “self made” millionaire. If I became rich now, I think I would stay more or less exactly as I am now. Humility is a trait that I focus on, and try to pass on to my son.

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