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When you become Wealthier, You will still be Anxious about Money

You have to live with whether you have enough money or not.

Whether you are poor or rich.

If you are poor you have a set of anxiety. You will be worry about whether you have enough to put food on the table for the next month, and whether your kids will have money to continue with their education.

However, that anxiousness goes away, when you suddenly come into possession of a large sum of money right?

What I realize for myself is that this is not true.

I started my journey with money at 18 years old when I stop taking pocket money as I got into compulsory military service. I struggle with part-time job for food and allowances in 3 years of university.

Then I got out of university with a small debt to repay and gradually build up my wealth to this point.

I realize the anxiety never went away.

It just changed from one form to another.

It surfaces during certain moments and dives when those moments were adverted.

The New York Times has an article profiling rich men and women and their anxieties with money.

I thought it is a very good summary for myself to consider. Many of them are rather true.

I will try to summarize some of the important points here.

Money Equals Many Emotional States and Goals we think it will Solve

When we do not have the money, we believe that once we have enough, or reach our goals, it will resolve most of the following:

  1. Love
  2. Power
  3. Security
  4. Control
  5. Self Worth
  6. Self Love
  7. Freedom
  8. Self Esteem

When we are near that goal, reach that target level, or near that goal, we realize that is not the case.

Our assumptions about it was wrong.

The Stress does not End When You Become Wealthier

The anxiety does not go away due to the lack of knowledge about money.

Your path to wealth might be luck, or working in a field where you leverage your human capital.

It doesn’t mean that you level up on the wealth knowledge.

Many of them feel like the do not have enough money. This is even by society standards they are very well above average.

Their worry stems from:

  • Not knowing if the money will last them
  • Would they live longer than they anticipated

They are also worried about making the wrong money moves:

  • Whether they are making smart money decisions
  • How well they are spending
  • Whether they have money to passed on to future generations
  • Suspect about the motivations of the people providing the advice and consultations

They Struggle to resolve the change in Identity

When you become more wealthier, you also realize that your social standing shifts.

The people that you stay around also shifts.

And this could cause some anxiety.

You may have become “those people” that you wish you could become, but detest because they have more than your family.

You grew up hearing money messages like rich people only care about themselves or other negative beliefs about the wealthy and then you become wealthy yourself.

When you become “those people”, you become anxious what should be the right posture. Should you be yourself, or should you do what people with greater status of wealth do?

Would having more money make you corrupted and insensitive to other people’s feelings?

You may be afraid that with so much wealth, your children would be very unmotivated and de-generate into very unproductive individuals by society standards.

You are also anxious and frustrated how your relationship with friends, family, relatives change as you come to terms with more money. People will hit you up for loans and gifts.

The Solution to This

The first thing to conclude is that, if you are not so rich now, don’t think that by being rich, a lot of your life’s problems will go away.

Yes, the tangible survival and security aspect will be resolved.

Most people just want some form of financial security (in my 10 stages of wealth here) but sometimes they do not know it. And to achieve it, they don’t have to push themselves crazily to an extreme end to reach financial independence.

Greater wealth often gives you:

  1. the wrong kind of love
  2. not enough power
  3. less control than you imagine
  4. no self worth
  5. no self love
  6. not enough freedom
  7. less self esteem

Money like my friend Christopher Tan from Providend said, is an enabler of life, and if you associate having money as the ultimate problem solver, you will be disappointed.

The solution is to live and discover life, with money as the support infrastructure.

This may be profound but its not an area I have high competency in. So I will not bullshit so much.

Secondly, a lot of the anxiety that deals with money can be solved by increasing the knowledge and wisdom on building wealth. This is why I list acquiring Knowledge and Wisdom as 1 out of the 4 important determinants of wealth.

You are anxious because you do not have enough convictions and you do not have enough convictions because you don’t really know whats the truth, what is false, how far ahead or behind you are.

Let’s go though some of these examples.

Some rich folks are worried about:

  • Not knowing if the money will last them
  • Would they live longer than they anticipated

This is a question about whether you have enough retirement or wealth withdrawal competencies. Whether you have adequate or not can be determine by going through some of the literature of retirement and financial independence. ( I provided a section on retirement here)

A good wealth planner provides you with a few versions of plans, with action steps to bring you closer to your goals. They also provide good knowledge to help you make the decisions better.

When you know what are the assumptions, what are the dangers, how much you have now, your anxiety dissipates and gets replace by either relief that you are actually in a better situation or grief that you would never retire or your money will not last. At least it is some form of moving on.

When you worry about:

  • Whether they are making smart money decisions
  • How well they are spending
  • Whether they have money to passed on to future generations
  • Suspect about the motivations of the people providing the advice and consultations

Again, having a depth of knowledge, and a good environment of people who manages wealth well, would allow you to alleviate these concerns.

The problem for many is that they deemed they are uninterested in money, too troublesome to learn all these things.  That’s fair.

And what you will get is that, if you are unwilling to partake in building a set of wealth competency, you cannot rid these anxiety because at the back of your mind, you do not trust your advisers, and you know, even after all these, you do not know enough.

Lastly, surround yourself in a good environment where everyone has a focus on improving their wealth position in a sound manner. This gives yourself an ideal place to find people in the same situation, and would have the same anxieties and how they live with these problems in the first place.



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Tan Siak Lim

Tuesday 21st of November 2017

If you still anxious about money, it's because you are not rich enough. $300k is rather poor. Will you still be anxious about money if you have $3m? $30m?


Tuesday 21st of November 2017

Hi Siak Lim, the idea is that you will still be anxious about money even if you have a lot of it. Your relationship when dealing with money changes. So does the anxiousness. If you have $3 mi and 30 mil, your anxiousness would be rather different.


Tuesday 21st of November 2017

it is the mind that can set us free. in singapore we plan too much into the future - Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. the mind always needs something to chew on, hence even if we managed to reach financial 'balance' there is always something-else. lol

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