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The post has a good quote from Bill Murray:

> I always want to say to people who want to be rich and famous: ‘try being rich first.’ See if that doesn’t cover most of it. There’s not much downside to being rich, other than paying taxes and having your relatives ask you for money. But when you become famous, you end up with a 24-hour job. . . . The only good thing about fame is that I’ve gotten out of a couple of speeding tickets. I’ve gotten into a restaurant when I didn’t have a suit and tie on. That’s really about it.




The unspoken premise of this quote is that fame and fortune don't easily convert into each other. The believe that both go hand in hand is what most people get wrong already.

And there is also a certain asymmetry, because popularity at least can be bought to some degree but converting pure fame into lasting wealth is hard work if, depending on the circumstances, possible at all.


That belief has been illustrated in technicolor over the past decade. Plenty of "famous" people on social media have very little to show for it. I'm not talking about the Logan Pauls or PewDiePies of this world - they're clearly outliers - but the average famous person on YouTube or Instagram (tens to hundreds of thousands of followers), might have a decent to great income but they're not "rich", where rich is defined as not dependent on any source of income[1]. Many of them are in fact enslaved to the need to constantly produce new content, which is fine if you enjoy it but perhaps not so much otherwise.

[1] My preferred definition is actually the ability to do what you want, when you want, and with whom you want, which is a little broader than simply money.


> The believe that both go hand in hand is what most people get wrong already.

That's because it used to be true and was for quite a while. Fame means lots of people know who you are, which requires widely amplifying and broadcasting your identity and work. For most of modern human history, technilogical limitations made that broadcasting very expensive. You had to spend some money for each reached human. Think printing pamphlets in Dickens' era.

This meant that, generally, only the rich could afford to become famous. Fame following money and the direction was very rarely reversed aside from occasional cases of infamy like mass murderers.

Broadcast TV made that much cheaper. A single show could reach millions. But production was very expensive so even though the marginal cost per viewer was low, the barrier to entry was still very high. That meant few got in and those were mostly otherwise well connected or part of an established privileged class.

You do start to see an increasing number of "marginally famous" people here who got recognition from being guests or contestants on shows. Think "Jerry Springer" famous. These people tend to be quickly forgotten but have the misfortune of experiencing everything about fame with almost none of the money.

Then the Internet and video streaming happened. Now the barrier of entry is virtually zero — everyone has a smart phone that can shoot video. The marginal cost is zero — ads pay for distribution so the producer fronts nothing. Some money comes in, but its very little. So now there is a larger and larger group of people for whom fame came first and wealth came later or never.

I don't think our culture has caught up to that reality yet. There's still a presumption that anyone famous always has enough money to deal with the downsides but that's sadly not true. I honestly feel bad for people like mid-level YouTubers who have stalkers and death threats but are effectively making minimum wage.


Why trying to become rich? Once you have enough money to have a great quality of life without stress, having more money isn't improving much your happiness. Sometimes it makes it worse. However trying to become rich can be very difficult, tiresome, and disappointing.


> Why trying to become rich? Once you have enough money to have a great quality of life without stress

Generally speaking, to me being rich (disclaimer: I'm not) means having that kind of money today and the confidence that, no matter what happens (barring large scale events like wars or asteroids) I will still have it for the rest of my life.


To me, being rich is simply about living life through passive income sources. Most of the rich people I know live this way - they make their money through investments, especially fixed income assets like real estate.


This does not exist.

The moment you have money there is people out there that want to take it. It has always been, there is this part on the Bible that says that when you have money, there will be robbers making holes in your walls to take it. That was thousands of years ago.

It is human nature.

For me, being really rich is that you know the way to make wealth(not money) when you need it. This knowledge is more useful than the outcome of it.


If you have a few millions in an index fund and are discrete about it, no one is going to take it.

There are many rich people who live ordinary lives.


You're basically never 100% safe. In this particular case, the broker at which you bought the index fund units can scam you. It actually happened in Poland maybe 10 years ago - managers at a respectable brokerage firm were taking in orders from people but, instead of buying the requested papers, bought something else which they believed would be more profitable. They ended up being wrong and, when the clients wanted to eventually "sell" their papers (which were never bought in the first place), the company folded as it didn't have enough to pay the clients.


You are also never 100% safe if you are poor.


You are never safe but millions/billions gives you options.


Because stock market crashes never happen?


If memory serves, The largest single-day drop was around 25% and the biggest total was around 90%. That leaves 10% to live off of: if you have 10x what’s necessary for the rest of your life invested you can absorb those losses.


To have 10x what's necessary, you need to be able to survive on 1% returns (I'm trying to be generous there). So if you can live on $30,000, you need to have "only" $3MM invested.

You should also not be investing more than 25% of your assets into a single asset class, so you need to have $6-12MM of assets (range depending on considerations) in the first place.

I think having even $3MM is a reasonably called 'rich', but others may disagree.


Oh; you certainly have to be rich to pull this off. But the context was “a few millions in an index fund,” which is what your analysis came up with.

Also, if you’re going to posit funds in other asset classes, you should also include the worst-case returns of those funds in the analysis.


I don't think the people who are non-obvious rich put their money solely in an index fund. They'll generally have about 50-500 apartment units in some big city, which (if properly insured) guarantees you can weather anything except for wars and asteroids. Maybe they put their earnings into an index fund though ...


Not solely, but index funds are probably the most common investment. Just look at the total money Vanguard has under management.


$5M in Vanguard also is safe from everything but wars and asteroids.


If you’re smart you diversify so you’re earning a few percent a year on some portion at very low risk.


Donald Trump was once asked, “how much money is enough?” He answered, “just one dollar more.”


"have enough money to have a great quality of life without stress" is how many people define "rich".


>>"have enough money to have a great quality of life without stress" is how many people define "rich".

sure, but "great" is not easily defined. A new car or a jet? A $500K home or a $15M one to host parties with rich and famous. But people usually like to show off, one way or another.

If you hit it big with a company, and have, say, $10 Million you can live extremely stress free everywhere in the world. And very few would know, at least no one in your town or extended family. But quite a few hint at their wealth, political donations, charity (announce it publicly) etc etc. It's tempting, but once you hit the news is over.

In USA people might sue you for one thing or another, but in banana republic countries you can "taxed" by criminals: Give us $1 Million or your child is...


It's very hard to find a life partner who is willing to live merely comfortably knowing they can draw more blood from you, and had to resign your children to mere comfort, knowing they'll have to compete for ever scarcer living-wage-paying jobs.


Merly comfortably? At 10 million dollars, you can live off of 4% of that for the rest of your life. After 15% cap gains, that gives you $340,000 to spend a year. Outside of the bay area, you can easily afford a 5000 square foot house in a top school district, own multiple cars, take lavish vacations, own a second vacation home, pay for your kids college education and more.

What additional benefits are you imagining in which having more money would not "resign your children to mere comfort"?


Ever meet old money? They manage it; that's how they pass their money on through the generations. If you're a tech dude in the Bay Area though, you have my sympathies: many predators.


True. I guess "rich" because you can pay your family bills and have the hobbies you love and "rich" in "rich and famous" don't mean the same kind of wealth.


The threshold is whether you need a job.

The difference in stress of needing to hold onto a job, versus of being their voluntarily, is huge. And it's not binary. If you have a few years cushion saved up, it's a huge decrease in stress. If you have a mortgage paid off and enough to retire off of, most people in the world would call that 'rich.'


Even though I know what you mean - stress can be caused for many things that are not money though. Love (or lack thereof), loneliness, illness,..

But yeah, living without money-related stress is how I'd define it. That doesn't even have to be a lot of money :)


Then why do so many of the richest people have so much stress?


> Why trying to become rich?

Because there is an unlimited number of things you can do with it. You're limited only by time and your imagination.

I've never understood the premise I'm responding to, it doesn't make sense, unless a person has zero ambition and zero creativity - and I don't think that's true of anyone.

I could never have enough money. I could never run out of good things to use it on. Give me $100 trillion and a thousand years, please.

You could spend $100 billion and 60 years of your life on just going after Malaria and you might not manage to vanquish it. You could spend tens of millions of dollars and decades on trying to eliminate homelessness in a small city and still not eliminate it (swap out homelessness for any number of problems that need fixing in most any nation, or city). There is what might as well be an infinite number of good uses for money, at every possible scale. I'd run out of time long before I'd run out of positive uses for large amounts of money.


Yeah, the DOT has some value to baseline effectiveness of programs: if they have $30,000 they can improve some intersection or stretch of highway and save one life a year. They can always turn extra cash into lives saved, so they use that to measure the effectiveness of spending. (Preventing malaria deaths is much much cheaper, maybe the conversion rate should be lower, but let's go with 30k for now.)

If someone says they don't want $30k because they live comfortably, even though they could immediately donate it to GiveWell, it's like saying they don't value saving other lives because their life is fine.

Substitute in anything else you value. You could sponsor modern art competitions, or film preservation, or buy land for ecological preservation, or help fund policy research on key issues from think tanks...

People reflexively associate money with consumptive hedonism, so it can seem like a negative, but it can also support almost any value you have.

Money can build you and tacky gold lined apartment and buy you a loud sports car, but money can also cure the sick, feed the hungry, and house the homeless.


Yes. The more proper way to see this is that consuming leisure is perfectly fine as well.


Sure being rich is nice, you can do more things than most people.

My point is that you will probably never be rich. The concept of rich people is to be more healthy than most people. So you should probably not have a shitty lifestyle because you want to be one of them but you aren't succedding. If you enjoy trying, good for you.

Ambition and creativity is different than wanting to be rich. A researcher usually does not care about money but would love the frontpage of Nature or a Nobel price. A musician is usually more thinking about its art and the people than the sales. A politician wants power. Lots of examples.

Saving the world and making the society better with a lot of money is good, but thankfully rich people are not the only solution.


The structure of this comment gives the (very American) idea that you want to become rich so you can save the world. You really just want power.


It's not usually helpful to tell people what they're thinking. Assume they know their own thoughts better than you do.


It is a useful illusion to have while destroying it. Hey, we will fix this in 10 years with our billions. It is a huge pill we incidentally forget we swallow daily. No need to remind.


> You really just want power.

How do you know this?


If you don't become rich, the money that you would've earned will land in somebody else's pockets and presumably they can also use it for some good (possibly even greater one).


Money is life force in a quantifiable form. We literally trade life for money. If you have a drive to accomplish something greater than you alone could accomplish in a lifetime, then you need to amass capital so you can buy other peoples time and energy.


This. When people act like money is worthless after $X, I think of Musk and Bezos pushing us towards space. I'm sure they both spend plenty of cash on useless shit that doesn't improve their lives at all, but if they only had $10 million each then nobody would landing large reusable rockets right now.


> Once you have enough money to have a great quality of life without stress, having more money isn't improving much your happiness.

If you mean without having to continue working, that is indeed what many would consider being rich.


That depends on your personality and the job. Although, as I've noticed, seeking money as the number one goal tends to lead to jobs which cause more stress and a lower quality of life. For example, I could make more money at top tech company but then I'd have bureaucracy and a vacation policy (I took 6 weeks last year) to deal with.


Top tech company offers 5 weeks vacation per year and offers unpaid leave too. The hard part is extricating yourself from (fake-) important projects long enough to enjoy a vacation.


Depends on the company, Google I believe begins at 15 days and you only get more after a certain tenure.


No, a normal job is enough to be happy in most societies in my humble opinion.


You can lose a job, and it can play out pretty bad. That's a persistent background dread in most people lives.


You have unemployment and more than enough time to find a new job. And let's say you don't find one, the state will still give you enough money for you to survive. Maybe you will have to reduce your lifestyle and be unhappy for some time but there is no need to seek to be rich just to prevent an unlikely future.


> You have unemployment and more than enough time to find a new job. And let's say you don't find one, the state will still give you enough money for you to survive.

Quite a few commenters on this forum live in parts of the world where that is not the case. It's certainly not the case for the majority of the world's population.


I sense an optimism of someone who yet not lived through a major recession. When the economy takes a nosedive, even janitor jobs can be hard to come by.

And welfare, even where it is available, is usually severely capped both in amount and duration. You may not die of hunger but losing your place to live is entirely realistic.


It's true, I haven't experienced a recession. I rather take the risk of having a hard time during a recession than having a hard time my whole life though.


Yeah uhhh... having lived in below poverty level, Fuck that noise. I’m a us citizen so if I lose my job I’m pretty much fucked either way.


Which societies are in a situation where a normal job supports a spouse, children, and aging parents?

Most people want to be in a financial situation where they can support more than just themselves.


The spouse can work, we are not in the 1960s anymore. But even if she does not work, you can have a happy life in many Europeans countries.


This suggests that the cost of living adjusted salaries of today is half of what they were in 1960s if two people need to work now versus when only one needed to.

Also immigrating to a country with good social benefits does not solve the need to take care of elders and relatives , which would not benefit from the social system of the country to which you would immigrate


> This suggests that the cost of living adjusted salaries of today is half of what they were in 1960s if two people need to work now versus when only one needed to.

It's that, or people's "needs" (wants really) just got inflated over time.


> However trying to become rich can be very difficult, tiresome, and disappointing.

Some people enjoy making money regardless how much wealth they already have.


I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding this and we came to the conclusion that there is a balance with wealth. For us, the more important factor was freedom, and having enough money to facilitate whatever that definition of freedom is for you.


That really depends on your personality. There's a lot of things where objective value is hard to determine, and depends purely on your subjective feelings. Two people with narcissistic and schizoid personalities could have completely different experiences with fame: one could feel inspired and happy by the recognition, while the other would get anxious and depressed.

In the end, learn who you are and what's comfortable for you, before listening to anyone else's advice.


Bill Mahar was talking about fame recently and he said it was very nice. Because people generally perk up and are friendly most everywhere you go.

But I think it goes the other way when you become super famous.




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