You want to be rich. Perhaps you plan to be very wealthy indeed.
Who wouldnât? Talking about the pros and cons of being wealthy seems as one-sided as a boxing match between Warren Buffett and Muhammad Ali.
However Iâve been giving this some thought â inspired by my strange and unfounded fear of winning ÂŁ56 million pounds in the lotteryâ and there are quite a few bad points.
Donât get me wrong â itâd be a nice problem to have. If you searched out âthe pros and cons of being wealthyâ as a sanity check before accepting a briefcase of cash, I say take the money!
Later on you can come back and tell us how hard it is being rich. But letâs start with the good points.
The pros of being wealthy
Unless youâre very religious, contrarian, or youâre visiting our planet ahead of the full-scale invasion from Mars, youâll know how great it is to have money.
The esteemed rap poet Nas sums up the general picture as follows:
Clothes that I buy, Ice that I wear,
Clothes that I try, close your eyes Picture me rollin, sixes, money foldin Bitches honies that swollen to richesâŠ
Mr Nas is a bit weak in rhyming the clothes heâs trying with those that heâs buying, but then he doesnât need to try too hard â Nas knows weâve all dreamed of being rich. He just has to flick the switch.
At the very least, being wealthy gets you:
Â§ Financial freedom
Â§ Holidays anywhere
Â§ A great home
Â§ Funding for your pastimes and passions
Â§ Good suits
Â§ Great health care
Â§ A swimming pool full of girls in bikinis
Â§ Gold teeth
Feel free to substitute your own desires. Personally, Iâd like an island.
The downsides of being wealthy
When I said this article was about the pros and cons of being wealthy, I meant it: having a lot of money has drawbacks, especially if you get rich overnight.
Iâve met a fair few rich people over the years, mainly through work, and Iâve also read widely on the subject, and I feel confident in listing these negatives.
(For clarity, Iâm talking about being really rich â ÂŁ10 million / million net worth or more).
Money doesnât make you happy
After a surprisingly low point, more money doesnât make you happier. Rich people get depressed, just like the middle classes. True, thereâs no evidence that money actually makes you unhappy (although one rich man is giving it all away) but it could distract you from fixing your real problems.
The end of your goals and ambitions
You see this with children born into money, as well as people who built a company up for several decades and sold too late to start another. When you have the money, what next? The trick seems to be to find a substitute to your old goal of achieving financial security. Thatâs why you canât walk far in Africa without tripping over a philanthropist.
Being judged unfairly
People are very critical of the wealthy, especially here in the UK. In the US entrepreneurs are celebrated, but newly rich Brits will find many people waiting for them to fall. Iâve seen it in work â a self-made man or woman leaves the room, and someone says âwell, he was luckyâ or âheâs out of ideasâ or even âwhat an assholeâ. Not nice, but it happens.
Someone is richer than you
Rich people are human, too. Your yacht isnât as big as the one next door, or you had to buy your furniture, unlike your neighbours who had theirs passed down from the 17th Century. Nobody is the richest person in the world on every measure â how many billions would Buffett give to be young again?
Money canât buy the love of your friends and family. âDonât feel bad about being rich,â they say. But do you believe them? One has a broken boiler, another has a child with special needs, and then there are distant relatives who canât afford nursing care. Do you help them all? Can you? Where do you draw the line?
Being rich is a big deal
Buy a country house and you need staff. Invest your millions and you need accountants. They move your money offshore, and now you donât understand the taxes. Youâve no time to learn, because youâve three different architects coming over to quote on your summer home. You think youâd be different? So do I. Didnât they?
Scams and fraudsters
One reason youâll need to all those professionals is because youâll need help warding off the crooks attracted to your wealth. Nobody wanted to pretend to be you when you owed the bank money, but now youâve millions parked away itâs a different story. Letâs hope your financial advisers arenât swindlers, too.
I love you (and your money)
The big one. Does she really find you fascinating, or just your bank balance? Is he really won over by your beauty, wit, or experience, or does he just hope to bleed you dry while banging the French au pair?
Money can be all consuming
The most surprising thing about How to Get Rich (US link) by Felix Dennis is when he urges you to stop with money after you make the first few million, because beyond that youâre wasting your life.
The incredibly rich founder of Maxim magazine writes:
âLet me repeat it one more time. Becoming rich does not guarantee happiness. In fact, it is almost certain to impose the opposite condition â if not from the stresses and strains of protecting it, then from the guilt that inevitably accompanies its arrival.â
And he should know.
To conclude with the rapperâs perspective, what I didnât tell you earlier is that the lyrics were from a song called Hate Me Now, in which Nas laments the ill-feeling his wealth inspires out on the streets.
Our bard sums up his frustrations thus:
You wanna hate me then hate me; what can I do
but keep gettin money, funny I was just like you I had to hustle hard never give up, until I made it Now yâall sayin thatâs a clever nigga, nuttin to play with
Of course, the single was a hit and it made Nas even richer, just like Dennisâ How to Get Rich book has become a bestseller.
Being wealthy has its rewards, but irony â thatâs priceless.