Working in finance is both a blessing and a curse.
The plus side is the industry pays above-average wages and it’s not back-breaking work. Some people in finance do work ridiculous hours but no one comes home with a sore back or blisters on their hands at the end of the day.1 It’s also a profession you can perform well into old age.
The downsides are more psychological in nature.
There is a lot of money in the world of finance. You’re typically dealing with clients who have amassed vast sums of money. And there are always going to be peers or colleagues in the industry who make more money than you.
If you’re addicted to keeping up with the Joneses, the finance industry can be a toxic working environment. There is an endless stream of people with more resources than you.
I work in the world of finance so I know plenty of people who make a lot of money (way more money than me).
The problem is many of these people talk incessantly about money because they’re so insecure about it. It’s how they measure their self-worth which is a tough place to be because there is always going to be someone getting richer than you.
Often times one of the biggest headaches for rich people is…even richer people.
Vanity Fair had an article recently about rich people in the Hamptons complaining about even richer people encroaching on their turf:
Along with random $50s strewn across the beach have come the ultra-monied themselves, who’ve flooded in in numbers many say they’ve never seen before, leaving even the rich people thinking the rich people are ruining the Hamptons. “There’s so much money now it’s nauseating,” said one woman who bought her house in Amagansett in 1991. “I’m a 1-percenter. But I bear no resemblance to these people.”
“Everyone with money is here,” she said. “If I weren’t here already, I wouldn’t come now. The conspicuous consumption is just gross.” After repeatedly passing by a house that belongs to “one of those hedge fund guys,” and watching him have enormous, fully-grown trees planted day after day, she said she finally stopped to ask the dozen or so workers on site about the cost. “They said they thought $50,000 to $75,000 a day,” she said. “I would suspect it’s closer to $100,000.”
Boo-hoo, am I right?
Contrast rich people in the Hamptons complaining about even richer people to the impact of the child tax credit on certain families (via NPR):
The Internal Revenue Service began sending out monthly child tax credit payments of $250-$300 to about 35 million eligible families on July 15. The payments are set to continue through December.
The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a survey before and after the credit was sent out. In a span of just six weeks, it showed the credit coincided with a quick drop in food insufficiency and a drop in those who say they have difficulty paying weekly expenses.
So the new child tax credit is already making it easier for lower-income households to pay their bills and feed their family. That’s a huge win in my book.
These two stories provide a contrast to the things money can provide.
On the one hand, money is a necessity in life. It helps provide food, shelter, clothing and allows us to pay the bills. In this way, money provides comfort, security and safety.
On the other hand, money can warp your brain. It can provide unnecessary stress, angst and pressure in life.
Up to a certain point, everyone needs money to survive. Money can solve a lot of problems in life but it can also create others once you have enough of it. Once you get beyond the necessities of life, it’s up to you in terms of how useful money can be.
For those who use it the right way, money can provide convenience, experiences, comfort, freedom and peace of mind. If you have a positive relationship with money, it can be a wonderful tool.
For those who use it the wrong way, money can provide anxiety, greed, jealously and insecurity. If you have a negative relationship with money, it can ruin your life.
Once you reach a certain threshold of wealth it’s nearly impossible to avoid comparisons to those with even more wealth than you. It’s human nature.
But it’s also good to have a little perspective about money sometimes. There are plenty of people out there who just need a small amount of money to change their lives in a big way.
If your biggest worry is your vacation home in the summer, you don’t have real money problems. Your problem is your relationship with money.
Money itself won’t solve your problems.
If You’re Still Worried, You Aren’t Wealthy
1Save for those who go too hard on their TI-83.