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May 16, 2021

The lives of the rich and sad

Ever wonder what it might be like to be really rich? Not going to happen? Well, have a look at the most recent issue of The Atlantic and you may feel a bit better.

Mag “The Secret Fears of the Super Rich” delves into the results of revealing study of the very rich (in this instance, folks with a net worth of more than $25 million) from Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.

Paul Schervish, a sociology professor and the college's director, has been studying the lives and philanthropic habits of the super-wealthy for some time now.

And, guess what, they’re just like that nervous guy next door, exhibiting a surprising litany of anxieties including their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.

At its core, the survey underlines the fact that while money may ease some worries, others always remain. Most of the uber-rich still don’t consider themselves financially secure, for instance. For that, they say, they would require on average one-quarter more wealth than they currently possess.

Well, who wouldn’t?

But too many dollars, can create problems maybe every bit as psychologically unsettling as too few, the results suggest. One example: Many super rich don’t look forward to holidays, because they’re “always expected to give really good presents.”

Taken together, “the survey responses make a compelling case that being fantastically wealthy — especially when the wealth is inherited rather than earned — is not a great deal more fulfilling than being merely prosperous. Among other woes, the respondents report feeling that they have lost the right to complain about anything, for fear of sounding — or being — ungrateful….”

Can you identify at all? Even if you're merely affluent, do you worry this way? Or is this all simply a nice problem to have?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...