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Wealth Secrets and Worries of the Super Rich

By in Personal Finance, Tips, Wealth | 24 comments

The super rich are both similar and different than you and me. Of course they have more money, but the super rich also have problems. Find out what matters to the super rich, their worries and money strategies that you can implement to build your wealth.

The Super Rich Have Problems Too

“The most important thing for everyone to understand is that no matter how much money you have you cannot buy yourself out of the human condition. And that is that we’re all going to die.” ~Robert Kenny, EdD in Town and Country Magazine

Over the years I’ve know some very wealthy folks. Family friends lived on the same island as Gloria Estefan. Jason, a pal I grew up with had a dad who owned a trucking company, lived in a big mansion with full time help, and had lots of cool stuff. Jason’s sister even had a Coach purse in high school! My dad’s best friend died with an estate of more than $10 million. (Back in the 1980’s that was a lot of money!) My husband’s college room-mate was CEO of a fortune 500 firm. You know, the type of company that pays millions of dollars in salary and stock options annually. Now that is really “do anything you want” kind of cash. Those folks aren’t wondering how to pay the mortgage or considering whether to buy a tablet or a netbook.

Bonus; Simple Tips for a Wealthy Life

secrets-of-the-super-rich

I never really thought about lives of the uber-rich until I read an article several years back from the Monitor on Psychology. The article cited a study by Robert Kenny, EdD at the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy and surveyed people worth $25 million or more. Interestingly, Kenny transitioned from academia and is now a senior vice president and financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management. The subjects in the wealth study were asked several questions:

“What is the greatest aspiration for your life?

What’s your greatest aspiration for your children?

What’s your greatest aspiration for the world?

After each question, the subjects were asked how their money helps or hinders their aspirations.”

What the Super Rich Value

The uber wealthy’s greatest aspiration in life is: “To be a good parent. How different is this aspiration than the hopes of the average parent? I don’t know about you, but my greatest aspiration is to be a good Mom as well. And my net worth is not in the $25 million range!

In the interviews with the big time rich people, there were many ways they worried that their money got in the way of being a good parent. For example, they were concerned that their kids wouldn’t know if people liked them for their money or themselves, they worried that the kids wouldn’t have internal motivation to succeed, and they worried about their kids ability to lead meaningful lives. There was also discussion about the access to cash leading to drug abuse and acting out.

These wealthy folks not only worried about their own children, but about the children of world in general.

Although the super rich appreciated the opportunity to build something and amass large sums of money, this situation brought its own stressors. The freedom from financial worries provides the opportunity to do whatever you want, and raises the eternal question as well; “What is the best use of my time?”

Have you ever wondered about the best use of your time? What about the desire to be a great parent? So, far, there are some similarities between the worries of the super rich and those of an ordinary parent.

How to; Go Beyond Keeping up With the Jones’

Granted, most of us lack the financial freedom to buy whatever we want but no amount of money can buy freedom from problems. I’m fascinated when popular celebrities get divorced, overdose on drugs, commit suicide, and experience the problems of day to day living. Their fame and wealth doesn’t shield them from problems.

The researchers were surprised at their own findings. The rich worry about many of the same things you and I do. Next time you’re tempted to dream about a life filled with riches and free from worry, remember that even a life with lots of money doesn’t buy you a free pass for happiness.

When Money Can Buy Happiness – No Need to Be Super Rich

If you don’t have the cash to buy good food for your kids or pay the rent, then money can buy happiness! If you have a minimum wage job and four kids, more money will significantly improve your life. If you need medical treatment and can’t afford it, money can buy happiness.

Yet, it turns out that if you want a designer purse and it’s not in the budget, buying it anyhow will not make you happier. It will create more bills and stress. When your basic financial needs are met, with some money left over for the occasional splurge, then more money won’t make you happier.

Get a Step by Step Primer in Wealth; How to Get Rich

In “High Income Improves Evaluation of Life but Not Happiness”, a landmark Princeton University study by Kahneman and Deaton found that high income does not equate with greater happiness. The researchers discovered that people who earned more than $75,000.00 (in 2010) were not markedly happier than those at the $75,000.00 threshold. In short, if your family earns $75,000.00, more income is not likely to boost your happiness. This figure should probably be adjusted for cost of living and geographic regions. Seventy-five thousand dollars per year doesn’t go as far in San Francisco or New York City as it does in Cincinnati or St. Louis.

Money Secrets of the Super Rich

Invest in Index Funds

Warren Buffet, the 87 year old founder of Berkshire Hathaway is reportedly worth $85 billion. Buffett is financially conservative or some might say, frugal. He lives in the same home in Omaha Nebraska that he bought in  1958 for $31,500. He enjoys the simple pleasures in life such as coca-cola and living in the town where he was born. He shies away from  owning multiple homes and cars and many of the trappings of luxury. 

Buffett elects to invest his money instead of splurging on luxuries. And he’s frequently touted the benefits of investing in a passive index fund strategy

Start Investing Early

John Bogle, is 89 years old and the Founder of The Vanguard Group, Inc. Bogle is widely accepted as creating and promoting the widespread passive index fund investment strategy. Bogle promotes the magic of compounding and recommends starting to invest as early as possible so that your money will grow exponentially. 

Maintain a Cash Cushion

Billionaire Li Ka-shing, chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, is one of Hong Kong’s richest men with a net worth of $31 billion. He dropped out of school early to support his family and opened his first factory in his early 20’s. Ka-shing was an early investor in Facebook. 

He began as a plastics manufacturer in the 1950s and always maintained a cash cushion.  Than enable him to expand into other sectors. For the regular guy or gal, keep a healthy cash cushion allows you to buy more investments when markets are down and avoid going into savings when a big expense pops up. 

Learn From Your Mistakes

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, with a net worth of $54 billion explained one of his earlier mistakes, that probably cost him billions of dollalrs. When he started Facebook, he divided up the equity among the founders without establishing a vesting schedule, because he didn’t know what it was. 

Everyone makes mistakes, especially investors. The most important lesson is to learn from your mistakes and try not to make the same one again. If you invested in a loser, don’t be afraid to sell it, take the tax loss and more on to a more promising investment.

Pay off Debt Fast

Sixty year old Marc Cuban, star of Shark Tank, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and founder of many businesses including the successful startup Braodcast.com, Cuban has a wealth of money advice. He currently clocks in at a net worth of $3.7 billion. Similar to Warren Buffett, Cuban strives to raise his children with a conservative mindset. Don’t spoil your kids so that they can grow up to become contributing members of society.

Cuban eschews debt and advises young people to pay off debt as fast as you can. If you’re paying 20% interest and earning 2% on your savings account, you’re losing 18% of your money. Take your savings and pay off your debt. The bottom line from Cuban boils down to living conservatively, beneath your means. 

Super Rich Action Steps 

Write your own answers to these questions:

  1. What is the greatest aspiration for your life?
  2. What’s your greatest aspiration for your children?
  3. What’s your greatest aspiration for the world?
  4. What small step can I take today that will lead to wealth?

What do you need to do to realize theses aspirations? Create a plan to reach your personal and financial goals to maximize the wealth in your life.

Can’t Get Enough Values and Wealth?

What is your greatest aspiration today?

A version of this article was previously published (prior comments remain)

    24 Comments

  1. Makes you stop and think about priorities in life. It’s not about the rat race. Faith and family are by far more important than earning millions.

    Brent Pittman

    July 10, 2012

  2. I’m glad that the wealthy care about the same things the rest of us do. There is a well-known stereotype that the rich only care about money and neglect their families. Hopefully, it applies to only a few.

    Family is the real wealth in life. There will be problems, but the time we put into our families is well spent!

    Maggie@SquarePennies

    July 10, 2012

  3. I think there are so many people out there with their priorities out of whack. It is so important to take time to stop and consider where you are putting your energies. There are many thins in life more important than actual cash.

    Thanks for the shout out too.

  4. My priorities were always my family because it gave me the most happiness. The things I remember most were the experiences with family.

    In most cases, the additional funds just buys bigger and more expensive things you really do not need. A bigger house or nicer car does not make you happier.

    krantcents

    July 11, 2012

  5. @Brent, Maggie, Krantc, & Miss T, The universality of values is enlightening. If family relations are poor, life stinks. The real test is to synch your stated values with your actions!

    Barb

    July 11, 2012

  6. Great points! I have tried to step up my life so I don’t aspire for objects but rather aspire for balance in my life with work and future family. Hopefully I am off to a good start.

    Lance@MoneyLife&More

    July 11, 2012

  7. It isn’t surprising that uber wealthy people have a lot of the same concerns the rest of us do.

    One thing I’ve noticed as we accumulated more and more money – it takes more and more time to manage it!

    Thanks for mentioning my post on Prairie Eco Thrifter!

  8. I have been asking myself many questions about priorities lately; not least because I have been feeling a bit out of balance. In theory ir is the people I love; in practice I often neglect them in the pursuit of …well, things that are not so important like success, career etc.

    maria@moneyprinciple

    July 11, 2012

  9. Life is mind boggling, as the poor want to be more secure in life and the rich can not buy happiness. The middle class is stuck in a power struggle trying to avoid falling below a certain income level and never really seeing an improvement in life. Great Post.

    RichUncle EL

    July 12, 2012

  10. @Lance, Balance is the key to a golden life imho.
    @Marie, There’s a down side to everything, even having more money. Go figure.
    @Rich uncle-Quite a conundrum making a go of it, no matter what your financial station.
    @Nivene-There is no substitute for a great family!!!!

    Barb

    July 12, 2012

  11. Hi there,
    I recently completed an academic paper on whether money can buy happiness. It provided one interesting insight in particular. Absolute income does not bring extra happiness once your basic needs are met (as mentioned in the post). However, relative income (i.e. being relatively richer than your neighbour) does bring small amounts of increased happiness. Maybe we should all move to a poorer neighbourhood :D. Just an interesting result, make of it what you will.

    MultimillionaireRoad

    July 13, 2012

  12. @Multimillionaire, I totally love that comment, move to a poorer neighborhood. Actually, Jean Chatsky, in her book, The Difference, said we would be well served to compare ourselves with those who have less than we do, rather than those who have more. A twist on your recommendation :).

    Barb

    July 13, 2012

  13. I rather cry in my ferrari

    L Marie Joseph

    July 13, 2012

  14. I cannot say that I know just tons of wealthy people, but the ones that I do know just seem like simple people. They just made good choices with their money and they actually live pretty frugal. I love that!

    Whitney

    July 14, 2012

  15. @Marie 🙂 Sure, why not?
    @Whitney, That has been my experience as well.

    Barb

    July 14, 2012

  16. This post reminds me of an article I came across few months ago. It said, “Money cannot buy happiness but it can buy the things that can make you happy. Therefore, money CAN buy happiness.”

  17. Cherleen, Great point. But…. it can’t buy family 🙂

    Barb

    July 14, 2012

  18. Well, the super rich don’t have to worry about making money, so they really have different aspirations if you compare it to someone who is barely making it even with overtime work

    Aric Jorgan

    August 1, 2012

  19. Aric, That’s exactly the point. Even though the super rich don’t need to worry about making a living, they still share some concerns with the rest of us (although not all :).

    Barb

    August 1, 2012

  20. Great post! I think at our core, human beings desire the same things. All the ‘fluff’ – the materialistic things are secondary to the richness of our basic necessities and fulfilling relationships (whether with our children, spouses,etc.). That’s why perspective is so important: appreciating what you DO have, and the things you can improve on within your sphere instead of focusing on what you lack, or coveting what others have.

    Sher@knsfinancial.com

    January 20, 2014

  21. Very interesting post and captivating title. Personally I believe that money can’t buy happiness, all money can do is buy time and freedom. Once you have that freedom you have the choice to be happy or miserable. Money is important but it isn’t everything.

  22. @Sher-So true. Whenever I feel that green envy monster creeping in, I switch my focus to all of the good I have in my life.
    @Nick-The interesting part about your comment is that although money can buy “time” frequently more money requires additional “time” to manage one’s financial and other affairs. Personally, I never understood why anyone would want more than one home, too much maintenance and upkeep!

    Barbara Friedberg

    January 21, 2014

  23. @Barbara – It definitely takes time to manage money however I like to keep things as simple as possible so I can spend time on what really matters. By simplicity I mean investing in index funds automatically, investing in a portfolio of Dividend Aristocrats automatically and sending money to bonds and bank deposits to beef up the emergency fund.

  24. @Nick, Very expedient approach. And considering the research on efficient market hypothesis investing, seems like you are on a great financial path!

    Barbara Friedberg

    January 22, 2014

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