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Is getting rich worth it? (quora.com)
168 points by jesseddy on Feb 7, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments

The next thing you need to understand about money is this: all of the things you picture buying, they are only worthwhile to you because you cannot afford them (or have to work really hard to acquire them).

That was one of the biggest surprises for me. I never realized the degree to which not being able to afford certain things was what was making me want them. That childhood excitement of saving up your money to buy some coveted thing is completely gone. And without it you find you covet the thing far less. When you realize you can bring it home from the store whenever you want, you're often surprised to find yourself thinking "let them keep it there for now."

Curiously, this affects people in different ways. When the excitement of e.g. buying a fancy car is diminished by 10x, some people respond by buying 10 fancy cars, and others just lose interest. I turned out to be in the latter group, and judging from what I've seen in SV, a lot of HN readers probably also would be.

It's slightly sad, in the way that losing one's appetite or sexual desire might be. On the other hand, you're arguably less of a slave to people marketing luxuries, and the other things you long for might be more worth longing for.

It’s interesting that people refuse to believe this, even though they’ve almost certainly experienced it on a smaller scale.

For example, when you’re a poor student, you undoubtedly covet the nice gear in whatever field you’re into. If you’re into photography, you want that new camera or lens. If you’re into computer games, you want the newest rig. If you’re into cooking, you want some Le Creuset cast iron or some copper pots. But interestingly, once you start making even semi-decent money (say, $75,000) you could easily afford these things. And yet, most people no longer covet them when they reach that level. They may make a few initial purchases, but they soon realize that, because they can buy a $2,000 lens or a $500 french oven without much thought or planning, the shine is gone. Instead, they shift their sights to the $200,000 Porsche or the $2,000,000 home.

There’s no reason this doesn’t apply at $20,000,000 just as it does at $75,000. There’s always bigger, better, and more to covet.

My experience is a bit different. After working as a software engineer and suddenly (yes, it was sudden) realizing that I could afford most of the things I had ever wanted, I just didn't want them any more.

I don't find that I want more expensive things, instead I just lost interest in most material objects. Being able to lend/give (I never expected the loan would be repaid) a friend of a friend $3,000 to avoid foreclosure gave me infinitely more satisfaction than anything I could have spent that money on.

Even now, years later, it still amazes me that I simply don't want stuff I don't need. Well, for the most part, anyway :-)

All good points. I can remember being broke as a college student downloading music I didn't even want, and today I only buy music and rarely at that. Once you can afford something, I think many of us take a step back and then ask, "do I really want/need this?". I find I have this exercise not just because it is less exciting to have something you can easily own, but also because owning things has a physical cost. Time to research and buy, maintain, and store.

I'm not rich by any means, but as I've made more and more money, just like you, I've found giving to be infinitely more satisfying than spending on myself.

Truthfully, part of it is just the shocked expression someone can have when doing something that makes them feel special. Another part of it is the "do good" feeling, and the appreciation I have that I'm lucky enough to have the ability to do these things. Hard work means a lot, but I don't kid myself, I could have grown up in a position where my chance of success from child to adult was much lower.

You just described me exactly. I could see how I might have been enticed to just buy bigger and better things as my income increased, but somehow I went the same direction you did. And I feel I could not be happier.

I would much rather live simply and have my few things (laptop, camera, smartphone) and be able to help others with my excess funds.

I've never wanted stuff, just tools, but not necessarily super functional ones. For instance, I'd love to be able to buy and run a music venue and get loads of awesome bands to play and things. Or tape a £20 to the pavement, or get a hot tub and hold amazing parties. Or just ridiculous things, like hiring a load of escorts and having a Tekken tournament. Then there's using the money to invest in people and things that could become awesome, like the local music scene or impoverished charities (like rape crisis centres and anything related to the homeless). Or, fuck it, setting up your own charity to help people sort their lives out.

Just buying material goods and status symbols is never going to make you happy. Doing cool shit on the down-low is a much better goal IMHO.

In 2011 my income was 30k USD.

This is a truckload of money in Brazil, it is harder to get more money than that, I was a "Solutions Architect" and R&D head of a medium mobile solutions company.

To me, I was bloody rich, I mean, I never had this kind of money before, my whole extended family were envious and made lots of really mean jokes (and people made lots of "jokes" asking things, obviously expecting that maybe you will buy it for them).

I noticed then that many things I wanted, I decided to buy them later, for example I still don't own a single game console, because I thought: "Aaah, I will only buy PS3, and I will do it when Final Fantasy Versus get released".

The most expensive thing I bought, were my glasses, because since I need them every day, it made sense to expend some more money seeking quality (I hired a good custom lensmaker and all).

In fact, I did not knew what to do with my money, so I ended throwing good part of it at bitcoins (and losing it doing crazy leveraged trading).

It was a time that I worked because I liked the job (by the way: when I sent the resume, I asked for 18k, I got 30k because THEY offered it, it was not me that asked!)

My wife is from Brazil and people here in the US really don't realize what is a small amount of money in US terms is really a great wage in other parts of the world. Congrats on making what is a good wage, here is to hoping that opportunities in your country keep increasing.

You should consider putting money in small businesses and real estate, I know quite a few people who started out making really low US wages that built up a huge amount of money over 10 or so years of sending money back to Brazil to invest. The people I know who have done this invested in really simple businesses like sapateiros, esteticistas (shoemakers, beauticians), etc. Even though it is not a fun as bitcoin, probably worth you looking into.

The one thing I wish for more money is to be able to afford to work on the things I choose and want to work on without worrying about losing my house and paying my modest bills. Does this desire diminish?

EDIT: I want to be able to afford to volunteer more of my time without taking time away from my family too.

Classic Scarcity Principle. What I find interesting when I see one of those rich guys driving a 20 year old car I think to myself, "Wow, that guy is awesome. He is rich but he just doesn't care about money." After this post I realize, he is probably just like most of us, but once he had the money, he no longer desired most of the things out there we just have no need for.

Like Warren Buffet's house.

It seems like this would be domain specific. You have a more than respectable library (although that presumably cost more in effort/taste than in money). I have a huge collection of digital media, firearms, specific types of tools, etc. If I had >$1b, I can't imagine ever getting excited about spending money on clothes, and I'd rather have invested early into TSLA than owning 10 Ferraris, but I'd also be buying Freedom Group from Cerberus right now.

Agreed. While we're clearly not as rich as you or the top commenter on Quora, we're definitely in the "not really limited in purchasing" category of wealth. Sure, we can't just up and buy a second home, but we are definitely of the "just buy that nice mid-range car you want, in cash" category.

There is a third way to deal with the loss of excitement of buying -- not just buying 10x, or buying nothing, but engaging in the thrill of the hunt. Instead of expensive off-the-shelf commodities, rarer things. They don't have to be expensive.

Ex: I spent 6 months off and on looking for the right medicine cabinet for the bathroom in our "new" 265-year-old house. The new cabinets I saw at all the home stores looked cheaply made, or too cold, or too glam. I ended up finding a barber's cabinet with an extending mirror-door… super cool, not really unique but certainly not something you'll find in anyone else's house, from probably around 1910, just like the other piece of furniture we put in the bathroom (a dental cabinet made of solid quarter-sawn tiger oak).

It wasn't that expensive as far as medicine cabinets go ($300 — you could easily spend that at Home Depot on some poorly joined piece of crap from Indonesia). But it was an extremely satisfying way to spend not a lot of money. It's just perfect for the room, for the house, and it really did take a lot of looking and digging and strategizing to get it. It makes me happy every time I look at it.

That's the joy of collecting. You don't have to spend a lot to get the joy, either. I love old cameras ($20-50/ea) and West German art vases ($10-100/ea) and paintings by a certain pair of California impressionists ($80-300/ea). It's fun to be always on the lookout. And as far as thrills go, it's a lot cheaper than 5-star restaurants, and the result (ownership) and the experience (the hunt!) lasts a lot longer. There aren't a lot of meals that you can enjoy every time you sit in a certain room, but that's how often I enjoy a small painting I won in an eBay auction.

Teach yourself to enjoy the hunt and enjoy deal-making and you can get a lot more out of your money at any income level middle-class or above.

EDIT: It also gives you room to overspend for things that are "unreasonable." For example, I want some cabinets made for my living room. I don't like the off-the-shelf options. So instead I am taking woodworking classes and hiring one of the teachers to help me plan and build the cabinets at $60/hr. This will end up costing 2-3x what a cabinet would cost at Crate & Barrel, and take a lot longer than if I simply hired a professional (esp. considering my time), but I will get exactly what I want and have the pride of having made it (with help). The whole experience & result will be a lot longer, more joyful and challenging than outright buying what I can afford. Still, spending $2000 to $3000 on a built-in wall unit isn't even remotely in the same category as collecting cars.

I'm surprised there isn't any answer to this, after seeing the heavy (and undeserved) criticism to Dustin Curtis for his post, The Best: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4755470

Probably because I don't describe what I buy as "the very best," which implies some kind of universal judgment. And I think some people reading his essay think he sounds self-congratulatory. I don't think that anyone reading my comment would take it as anything other than an entirely personal pursuit.

Ex: back when Dustin was shopping for pans, he tweeted something like "What's the best cookware?" and I responded that he had to answer what "best" meant for him, because there are many "best" pans — some are the easiest to clean (non-stick), some are the most beautiful (copper), some are the most durable (Le Creuset), some are the most versatile (copper pans can't be used with tomato sauce, you know), some are the best at creating even heat dispersal (cast iron). No pan is the best in all categories. IMO there is no such thing as "best". The world is too complex. And even then some people would say that a wok is easier to "clean" than non-stick because you never use soap; some people don't think copper is the most beautiful (although I do), etc., etc. Like I said… complex.

I've got no illusions that I have "the best" of anything. I may say something is "Perfect for the room" (as I did about my new medicine cabinet), but that's deceptive because there are many things that are "perfect" for the room. They create different effects. I swapped sofas because one was sagging and I was shopping for possibilities without something particular in mind and found several totally different sofas that would have been awesome. I picked only one of them. It's perfect for the room. So would have the other one I liked best.

Looking for "the best" sounds like it could eat up your entire life. I'm positive there are better medicine cabinets out there, even for my purposes. But I didn't find one, and it won't keep me up at night. I had a blast and I love the one I found (and negotiated for).

For me, it's about fun and enjoying what I have.

> Most people now want something out of you

This is a common mistake, esp among the newly wealthy who are young: The last thing you want is for anyone to know that you are wealthy.

There are many ways to make sure people stay ignorant of your wealth. For the people (and dates) that don't know your wealth, then you sure as hell don't educate them by words or bling. For people that know you had an exit, they never saw the documents and don't know what your number was. And if they probe, then "the investors got most of it, and uncle sam took half of the rest. At least I made a profit."

And the truth is: Yes, having the money is nicer than not having it, but it really doesn't make your life worth living or give it meaning. That requires a great deal more effort.

Edit: I think Prawks should be top HN comment. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5182922

Do what sivers did - create a trust to pay you a livable income, and lock up the rest. That way, all the vultures and insects can't go for your "wealth" - because it isn't really yours, it's just this legal vehicle that pays you until you die.

The other piece of advice I always here is that as soon as you have the money, put it away in some safe financial instrument (after you've paid any outstanding debts) for at about a year and keep living your life on exactly the same income you had before you became rich.

This is a good idea. But even this strategy isn't foolproof, in so far as someone can just start buying things on debt in anticipation of getting access to their money.

Best way to save your money and not go crazy with it? Take responsibility for something. Have something to keep you occupied and engaged every day. Something that depends on your time, care, and attention. That something could be a job you find meaningful and challenging. It could be a child and a family. It could be a big project that you now have the ability to pursue, having come into financial freedom. The point is: have something to focus on other than material.

(Hell, this might even be another company, in which case, even more money flows in. Not the worst problem to have).

We're all familiar with the old saying "A fool and his money are soon parted." Well, in the case of the very smart who happen to come into money, I'd warn "A bored or unhappy person and his money are soon parted."

Money can indeed be a ticket to freedom. But too many people conflate "freedom" with "freedom from responsibility." That line of thinking is dangerous. It leads to boredom and idleness at best, and recklessness at worst.

That sounds an excellent idea - plus, to be fair, it kinda solves the "what if I go crazy and spend it" - if the right amount is tied up in trust funds for your children (enough to do something, not enough to do nothing) then you can consider the rest risk-potential and worry less (one hopes)

In general however, people who win lotteries tend to go back to their norm of happiness within a year. By the time you are 18 you are either a happy person or not. Sorry.

> By the time you are 18 you are either a happy person or not. Sorry.

I agreed with everything until your last sentence, which I can tell from personal experience is not true :)

The quantifier of 18 is not really accurate, although I agree with the general sentiment.

For many (most?) people, 18 is simply the start of the journey. That journey may be short or it may take decades, but the idea that you are somehow static after a certain age is certainly something coming from a very young mind.

perhaps it was phrased wrongly - certainly there are convincing studies that one gets happier (by whatever metrics) as one progresses through the decades.

However if we have happy as a spectrum, I contend people are placed by the end of childhood on a point on that spectrum - some lucky ones far to the right, others not. One can move up the spectrum, but not everyone ends up crowded to the right - we can easily imagine two people, one in left 2nd std dev, one in the right. THey both get happier as they get older, but the person on the far left of the bell curve just never gets to be as happy as the other was in their twenties.

I colloquially would say one is a happy person. The other not.

Just to reenforce that.

I knew a family where one member made wise investments and eventually became wealthy (but didn't announce it). These were older people, close to retirement. But once the sibling sought to give some of his wealth to siblings as a nice gesture, the other siblings wanted to gang tackle him for more. Now that he was wealthy, how could he be so cheap as to only give them X? They demanded X+Y, or threatened to make his life miserable (they'd come by drunk, repeat expletives, threaten force, say nasty things, etc.) They only turned 'nice' once he relented and gave them what they thought was appropriate.

Anyhow. A man now sees his brothers and sisters in a different light. He probably wishes he'd never become wealthy, in some ways.

Nice post but the guy completely forgot to say that over a certain level of richness you start to stop worryng about work.

That for most people here means probably to work even more, but just coding what they believe is significant, when you feel with the right energy, and not what the current company / job believes it is.

I believe there is a significant amount of people that every day wake up and go make something they believe it is useless, just to pay the bills. Richness can stop this massive personal sacrifice.

Clarification: As you can guess I'm very happy with my current job, the problem is, I wrote useless code for many years when I started to pay my bills as a programmer. Later I created companies and I was able to escape the sadness of writing useless code. However the fear of returning into this condition is always present, especially with a loan that I used to purchase a new house, children, and so forth.

I go to work every week day to do stupid stuff people want me to do it stupid ways to pay for a stupid house and stupid food in order to make sure I survive. For the area I live, I get paid reasonably well I'd say and I do it they way because they pay more than the other guy.

Money offers choices. It allows people to live and work where they want and makes it a helluva lot easier to stand up for yourself or leave your job to find your passion. I currently have none of these allowances.

Even without any it's plain to see how money can make it easier to be happy in life, but at the end of the day happiness is up to yourself. I'm reasonably happy without any money, but I know if I had some, I could probably make myself happier. :p

He did say it: you don't have to worry about money as much anymore, so you can quit your job at anytime because you don't need the money.

Yes! This is my overarching goal currently. I'm trying to make as much money as possible building line of business apps so I can work on something I think is more important. I would still write software, even if I was filthy rich, but the difference would be the resources I'd have at my disposal. I currently volunteer doing web sites for charities and schools from time to time. If I were rich, I could spend more time doing that, as well as paying other people to do that. I would love to build software for under served philanthropic organizations.

I want to get rich.

But I don't want to do it because I want stuff. I don't want a Audi, or a Maserati, or a fancy home, or the newest gadget.

I have a objective, a plan, for me, and for future generations, and I know how much it will cost, and doing it will require me to be rich.

And I know how much problems it will attract, how much relationships it will wreck, and how much danger it will bring to my life.

But I don't want to get rich for pure hedonism, far form that, it is because of my beliefs, I believe some stuff need to be done, and I concluded that few people will do it, meaning that I will have to do it, since I have to do it, I will figure a way to get rich, and do it.

To me, it will be worth, because it will be having the means of pursuing what I believe, but it will also be a sacrifice, it will be the opposite of a life that I had for a long time, it will be the opposite of being laid back, almost lazy, work only for pleasure, and live a peaceful life. It will mean politics, hardwork, backstabbing...

But I believe I have a duty to do, and I must do it, and I will venture doing that, and when I get rich, I know I will have to fight very hard to use the money for what I planned, instead of wasting it all in pleasurable stuff.

The OP seems to think most people want to get rich because they think it will make them happy, and he may be right. But in my life, most of the decisions I've made with my happiness in mind have had the side effect of reducing my income -- going to music school, leaving my day job, choosing to spend time with my girlfriend instead of getting in 8 billable hours every day.

That being said, I've recently made the decision to become, if not rich, at least well off enough that I have money to spare. My parents are aging and deeply in debt, my younger sister is sick (as she has been her whole life) and will never be able to support herself or hold down a job to give her health insurance. And I'd like to have kids and give them as many opportunities as I had.

It's not about happiness for me, per se. I've been given certain gifts, and I think I can use them to provide for my people. I think that's my responsibility.

>But in my life, most of the decisions I've made with my happiness in mind have had the side effect of reducing my income -- going to music school, leaving my day job, choosing to spend time with my girlfriend instead of getting in 8 billable hours every day.

But this is exactly it. If you were dirt poor you couldn't have done these things. Conversely if you were richer you would be able to do less of them. I suppose, anyway.

This is a long time after, and maybe you won't see my response. But in fact for most of my adult life I have been dirt poor. I scraped by for years as a freelance musician. The decision I made as a high school student was that money wasn't important to me, which is why I chose a field that would make me happy instead of being lucrative.

The day job a I quit was a 34K/year entry level web dev gig that didn't pay me enough to live in NYC and do any saving. I quit without having any runway because I was miserable and decided that I had learned as much as I was going to there.

My point is that I've been poor, and decisions I've made about being happier have not involved making more money. I've been rethinking that decision lately.

Why backstabbing? Is that really necessary? Sure, politics and hard work, and even hustling (as used by Steven Corona here: http://stevecorona.com/college-was-my-biggest-mistake, rather than the "semi-legal activities" pop definition)

I just don't see backstabbing as a necessary (or even effective) means to accomplish an end, no matter how noble the end may be.

I don't mean I will backstab.

I mean I will get backstabbed.

When you are rich, or working toward getting rich, people WILL backstab you.

Wherever you go, there you are.

It's very possible that you are right. Some things are too far out for the mainstream economy to support. However, if you see a real need, then there should be a way to finance a solution.

What can you do for your dream before making your first kajillion? You can develop the proper skills, research the problem, form a plan. You can find people who agree with you, raise funds. Start small and switch to it full time when you can.

Waiting to hit a golden figure will really delay the start of your project. Worse, you may find yourself always needing "just a little bit more" before you can cut over and start. If you truely must wait to self-fund this way, keep that target figure in your mind always, and have the guts to jump when you're ready.

Good luck!

Before the rise of the ideal of the "self made man", the nobility was popular, not because they were rich or nobles, but because their self-sustaining income meant they could engage in things society needed but were not profitable at the time, like science, art, culture, defensive military (of course, being a mercenary, or a plunderer, is quite profitable), and so on.

When the industrial revolution happened, the necessity for workers, in all levels, including managers, directors, and so on, made necessary for society to invent a reason for people to do those jobs, to change their old ways, then it became honorable to be a self made man, a guy that would use hard work to earn his income, instead of being a noble.

It was that time, that then being a noble became a thing to be derided for, and of course, the behaviour of many nobles did not helped things for them.

But originally what made a noble, "noble", was being to sacrifice himself, and do what needed to be done, without expecting payment, and he could do that because he already had income (usually in the form of some contract with people that farmed his land, be taxing them, or loaning the land to them, or something else).

Not sure why you got downvoted... Seems like a very cogent, honest and down to earth comment.

This is a very noble comment. I feel the same way about my side project, except I don't think it requires me to get rich to attain it. In fact, I'm not sure what it requires, so I'm finding out as I go along.

That's how I see it too. The article seemed to focus on, yeah you can buy more stuff but stuff doesn't make you happy. Yeah, we know that, what money really buys you is the freedom to pursue your own goals and not be slave to someone else's. Especially if your goals are things that are not "profitable" in the pecuniary sense, pursuing them full time is just not an option when you need to eat.

I am curious what your big goal is and why you think it requires "wealth" to accomplish it. You can email me if you don't want to state it publicly (my gmail is talithamichele).

Oh, it is very political and related to very long term thinking, if I disclose here the result will be a crazy flamewar (because it is a sensitive topic, that I know lots of people support, and lots of people think it is horribly wrong).

So, it is better not :)

If it is politically sensitive, money may be the worst way to pursue it. If you cannot get grassroots support, probably better to leave well enough alone. But less ego gratifying, certainly. Feeding your ego is usually a really terrible reason to do something "political". Given your response, I would encourage you to spend some time wondering what your real goal and motive is.

On the contrary, money is the "best" way to pursue political ends, much more successfully than grassroots support.

Please notice that I put the word political in quotation marks. Due to his unwillingness to genuinely discuss it, even privately, I have no idea what it is. Most likely, neither do you.

Also, please stop bugging me. You have a track record of hounding me. You have done nothing at all to prove that aren't merely looking for new ways to harrass me.


I don't want to be a politician, and there are grassroots support already, but it is something that although affect politics deeply, it is also highly cultural.

I believe there has been a conscious efforts by my opponents to sneak their people into classrooms for generations, I cannot undo it, but I can try to sidestep it.

But I won't discuss here because the main point of the opposition was exactly make lots of people believe they are 100% right and that those they oppose, are not only wrong, but evil.

Look, I am really not trying to bust your chops. You could have emailed me. You chose not to. I am abundantly familiar with controversy and firestorms. That is why illuminate is harrassing me. He has a history of calling me a "quack".

I originally wanted to try to gently suggest that you may not need riches to accomplish something. I do not have riches. In fact, I am currently quite poor. But I am making in roads on a large goal. Due in part to the ugly attacks I get subjected to when I talk about this thing I am doing, I chose to not bring up what I am doing. But if you are going to accomplish anything in the world, at some point you have to discuss it with people in some fashion.

Anyway, this conversation seems pretty pointless and I am running a fever. Later.

Does it happen to involve an island shaped like a skull or a really really really large orbital mirror?

If so, are you hiring?

>and for future generations

One of he worst things you can do for your kids is give them a reason not to work.

Believe me, they will have lots of work.

My project is not get rich and dump money on the kids. Hell no.

Obviously, I expect that two or three generations down, if thinks work well, my family will have kids being born already rich, I hope that those kids won't undo that I will try to do.

What's wrong with hedonism? Or am I misreading what you're saying.

I am very much against hedonism.

It is wrong because hedonism is usually tied to individualism, and a individual pursuit of happiness, that sometimes might work in short term, or for one generation or two, but end always results in problems for the collectivity that make everyone LESS happy.

The current way of life, hoardings things, "stuff", without a purpose or objective, wanting to be in the "haves" just to not be a "have not", agressively wanting more money aiming just to pleasure yourself or be more happy, only results in people, inadvertently or not, taking things from others that needed them.

Many societies with far less money and technology were happier, because what make people happy is a question of how they are spending their time.

If you work 70 hours a week for a very long time, to buy things that make you happy, you are wasting your time, you won't get happy this way, and might make others unhappy, starting with people close to you, like abandoned family or significant other, or children, to people that you hurt without even knowing, when for example in your own pursuit for happiness you do things without noticing how evil they are, like working for a cigarrete factory for example.

The most happy societies were ones that people worked 40 hours a week, period, no more chores, if the men were working 40 hours outside home, women worked 40 inside home, but both worked 40 hours, nothing more, our society people started to take increasingly burdens pursuing more money, and don't noticed that most people now work way more than 40 hours, and have long commuting times, and have few time to do what they enjoy, or to improve themselves and others.

My uncle once told me, that he noticed how pointless it was how much he was working, when he finally could buy a big TV and a PS3 (those are absurdly expensive here in Brazil, and people have much less income too, so they are absolute luxuries) and noticed he did not had time to enjoy it, he bought his dream videogame, and his dream game (Gran Turismo 5), and just could not play it, then he realized, what was the point?

Hedonism isn't about hoarding stuff. Working more hours to buy more stuff is the opposite of hedonism. Contemporary hedonism implies something like partying at Ibiza 24/7, but the original meaning was more like the enlightened dad spending more time at home cooking organic meals for his family.

Hedonism is doing whatever you do, seeking pleasure.

Sometimes yes, this mean working your ass off to hoard stuff.

Sometimes it means using your daddy money buying fancy cars and crashing them.

...James Gatz?


A character from The Great Gatsby: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby

I have a similar idea.

I'm totally tired of seeing people getting rich, so they can humiliate others from the top of their wrongly concepted superiority. They came, see and conquer for the very sake of saying they did. And they don't stop. They suck every working class neck dry so they can feel more powerful in society, like they are super humans for what they've accomplished.

But feeling powerful, in this case, is a social concept. And as a social concept it needs a society to exist. Like sound needs matter. And so, this people only feel this way for wasting thousands of lives, because the lives they waste are feeding their ego! Media is aways talking about this kinds, because its what we all want to hear. We all purse professional success and money to be looked upon, to be served, to have whats exclusive. We feed it.

What's worse of it all is that we teach this behavior to our kids, by giving them fancy stuff. We forge the pointless consumerist concepts of superiority into their heads and towards their very character, as our father did to us. And thats why we just can't be free of the thoughts of having. Because it's printed to our very psychological ids.

I also want to get rich. And I also have a plan for future generations. I want to have the time to create a new concept of education from scratch, based not on competition, individualism and fear like the one we have today, built over a mass production platform, teachers that only teach for a living, ranking grades that only tell that you have better memory, or that you cheat better, that carves into students heads that their dreams are impossible to achieve, that they must work 70 hours a week, obey the rules and be a law abiding mediocre form of life whose only legacy will be their obituary expenses; but based on cooperation and curiosity, printing into the young ones heads better values, like teamwork, self development, sharing, humility, honor.

I want them to know that they can do everything they imagine, I want them to know that nothing is impossible and that they have every requirement to achieve all of their dreams. But they must know also that they must work together and that they must work for , not the self, not society, but for humanity, and that's where they'll find their pleasure to feed the hedonism. I don't want people to keep away from pleasure. I just want to redirect it to something more constructive than consumerism, power, individualism. And if I can teach this to a few ones, they will multiply over generations and gradually take the world.

I may sound religious but i don't consider myself not even agnostic. The only thing I believe is humanity. And for 24 years I've seen it's darkest side ruling over the world. But I know that in every sucked out neck there's hope and good will to change our situation. In every new brain there's another chance to build good character to multiply the idea. I have no kids yet, and I don't know if I want a child of mine living in this horrible world we live in. But if you do, rethink the values you want your child's character to be built upon. He/She will feed the status quo, or help change it.

As long as we, the voiceless millions, compete against each other, we will be weak. Competition divides. Division makes us smaller. We must cooperate. Human cooperation is not linear, it's a geometric progression. Apart we are lots of ones. Together we are millions. Together we can change.


"The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the supposed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.[1] According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. Brickman and Campbell coined the term in their essay "Hedonic Relativism and Planning the Good Society" (1971).[2] During the late 1990s, the concept was modified by Michael Eysenck, a British psychologist, to become the current "hedonic treadmill theory" which compares the pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill, who has to keep working just to stay in the same place."

Very good link. From the article,

> And contradicting set point theory, there is apparently no return to homeostasis after sustaining a disability or developing a chronic illness.

I can vouch for that. I was an avid runner, but two years ago I got cartilage damage in both knees that left me unable to run or even walk entirely normal (I'm 22 years old). After surgery this year, I'm doing much better, but I feel like I've lost a part of myself that I won't ever get back short of complete healing... which unless we get some radical new cartilage science, isn't bound to happen anytime soon.

I'm still very happy on a daily basis, just not as much as I used to be.

Do you think your measure of 'happy' changes as well too? It's hard for me to compare my measure of 'happiness' at 22 vs 19 (even when I was 22) because so much was changing in my life at that point. I'm not suggesting you're 'wrong' in your feelings, but for many people, that age period brings about a lot of changes anyway, so comparing 'happy' levels even a few years apart is not a precise science.

I think the answer from Paul Buchheit on that post is the better one:

"I certainly don't regret it.

Wealth removes constraints. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on the extent to which you needed those constraints. If you have a serious alcohol or other drug addiction, wealth could be fatal for you. In general, it makes people more of whatever they already were. If you're an asshole, getting more money will probably make you more of an asshole. However, if you have purpose and meaning in your life that goes beyond chasing the golden carrot, money can give you the freedom to focus on the things that truly matter to you.

One of the biggest dangers of wealth is that it often causes people to cut themselves off from the larger society, either out of fear or the belief that they are somehow better than others. We are all one."

This should have been the HN link. (And yours should be top comment.)

Many many worthy comments in that thread.

Edit: To crusso's point, I didn't realize it requires a login. I guess I finally broke down and got one over there a while ago.

Well, that link tried to force me to register or log in. That's not appropriate for a HN link.

*Not appropriate for any website.

My mistake, I assumed a link to Quora wouldn't bombard you with a registration request, it's been a while since I've registered.

Hmm, I just clicked "close" in the dialog and was able to read all the replies.

I hate having to dig through the console to delete the modal signup wrapper.

> First, one of the only real things being rich gives you is that you don't have to worry about money as much anymore.

I disagree with this. One thing being rich gives you is the ability to make things happen.

Being a benefactor of a cause or artistic organization or an investor in a startup means that you can help set into motion meaningful projects that you believe in that would not otherwise have been possible. I'm a singer and one group I sing with has a benefactor who has financed all of our recording projects. We put his name in the CD notes and that guy can know that without his support the CD simply could not have happened. I have to believe that's a deeply gratifying feeling.

> One thing being rich gives you is the ability to make things happen.

Money does not have exclusivity on this ability.

I'm a member of the Friends of Northampton Castle[1], a group of people interested in the heritage of my home town.

Time is far far more important than money to groups like this.

We've had an architect put together a 3D reconstruction in his spare time (which I scripted and voiced in my spare time).[2]

We've spoken with the local library to get copies of some photos of the castle to put on our website (gathering local press attention by doing so).

We've lobbied and met with various groups with huge amounts of success. Not because we're well funded but because our members are able and willing to give their time to the project.

I've given my time to blog, tweet and facebook for them, etc etc.

In large part thanks to our activities, the people in charge of redeveloping the site (now a train station) have performed an archaeological exploratory trench - and found castle walls and a saxon brooch.[3]

Don't be tempted to think that you can't make real changes without money.

[1] http://www.northamptoncastle.com I run the website, would be interested in feedback.

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lp6TCRc9KVo

[3] http://www.northamptoncastle.com/posts/castle-station-evalua...

That's very cool. I certainly wasn't meaning to say that without money you can't make things happen. Just that money can be a very useful way of helping to make things happen.

I'm sure you didn't mean it like that but I felt that it could be taken to mean that money is the best way of making things happen so I wanted to provide a counter-example.


Capitalism is a system of alienation. For us hackers this is clear as day as the many proprietary software programs out there directly alienate people from the process of software production. Perhaps the best thing about being a capitalist is that you are no longer alienated from production like everyone else so you can make things happen.

That's what's so twisted about the American Dream™, is that it's the desire for a certain type of individual freedom, but a freedom that is always based on the subjugation of others. It's not a universal freedom, which to me is the only kind.

Absolutely. The article does not include the cost of alienation and serfdom into its calculus.

How much would you pay for freedom?

Money isn't useful for it's own sake. Money is a proxy for power, which is why people complain about how it changes their lives.

I'm not rich, but when i was a teenager and still living with my parents i went from being without heating for a month in the winter because we couldnt afford the bills to now where i earn more than enough to live. I've experienced what the author is talking about.

I remember having to make sure we only spent a certain amount on food and clothes and now i dont even need to consider such a thing. Day to day life is better by a country mile knowing i have enough money to pay for general life expenses. I still cant go out an buy a car without thinking about it, but i could buy a TV without thinking about it.

Once you have that level of complacency you start aspiring to other things and its difficult to maintain a level. I like good food and once went to the best restaurant in my city i spent £250 for a meal for 2 and i didnt care about the money, i could do that once every few weeks, but i wouldnt do it more than once/twice every year, because i know it would bring my level of expectancy higher.

I think its important you keep yourself comfortable, but dont allow yourself to get used to the finer things you love, because then you wont love them any more and you'll expect them and they wont be special any more.

> but dont allow yourself to get used to the finer things you love, because then you wont love them any more and you'll expect them and they wont be special any more.

I agree with most of your comment, but the last one causes me to ask: If simple repetition is enough to lose love for these "finer" things, then why waste effort on them anymore? Why not spend effort on things that will hold your love more permanently? (or at least with a longer time constant...)

Well i'm not saying there aren't things like that, but for instance, nice restaurants, quad biking and weekends away with the gf are things i enjoy immensely but dont do very often because if i did i think i wouldnt enjoy them as much, the very fact its a treat and not a normal occurrence is a large reason i enjoy them.

That isnt to say you shouldnt work towards finding longer term things that are less fickle and bring more overall life enjoyment that sticks, but the examples i gave are temporary by nature and my point was that not doing them often makes them special and i personally want to keep that.

I dont know why i would give these things up just because i'd not love them any more if i did them every week. They provide long term happiness because they're rare and i can look forward to them and remember them.

Also there are countries that have regulated economy or highly monopolized markets. In that case even if you have the money you can't use it, cause there's no stuff on the store shelves.

Proletarians suffer from the four kinds of alienation Marx referred to in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (1) alienation from products (2) alienation from the act of production (3) alienation from ones own life (4) alienation from fellow laborers. The forms of alienations the bourgeoisie have to go through are not nearly as acute as the alienation of the proletariat.

Perhaps the most important aspect of being as rich as a bourgeoisie is that you have a secure existence. You don't have to worry about finding a job, paying for health care, paying child support, paying rent on time so that you don't have to join the masses of homeless people living in the cold, or any of the other things ordinary people have to worry about. Having a secure existence is a major stress reliever and it makes your life better no question.

I want to get rich, not for the sake of it, the "power" or statue. I want to get rich so I can fulfill some of my dreams - I want to live near my birthplace where the job opportunities aren't so good, I want to own a snooker table and a nice house and most of all I don't want the pressure to always have to provide for my eventual family.

I want to get rich so I can get away with working with fun, but high risk, projects without having to live like a student. I would like to be able to make indie games for a living, but the risk is too big for me to stake my family on.

You should read "So Good They Can't Ignore You."

It lays out a clever mental model for turning interests into skills into control over your career.


I might actually do that. Thanks for the tip.

I'd rather have wealth than money. I'd rather live in a world where our needs are met through a wealth of automation than be a rich man today.

Money Is Not Wealth

If you want to create wealth, it will help to understand what it is. Wealth is not the same thing as money. [3] Wealth is as old as human history. Far older, in fact; ants have wealth. Money is a comparatively recent invention.

Wealth is the fundamental thing. Wealth is stuff we want: food, clothes, houses, cars, gadgets, travel to interesting places, and so on. You can have wealth without having money. If you had a magic machine that could on command make you a car or cook you dinner or do your laundry, or do anything else you wanted, you wouldn't need money. Whereas if you were in the middle of Antarctica, where there is nothing to buy, it wouldn't matter how much money you had.


The mere suggestion that all of us middle-class schmucks are out here dreaming of an Audi or some other bling shows how out of touch he/she is with middle class America. Maybe that's the way it was in the 1980s, but now most of us in the middle class are just desperately trying to pay rising insurance bills, electricity bills, childcare, groceries, and clawing with all our might to not fall out of the middle class. I can honestly say I haven't thought about wanting money for something that wasn't an absolute necessity for a decent middle class life since my early 20s (I'm in my late 30s now). Many of us don't even dream about getting rich -- we just dream of having enough income to pay the bills. Based on my experiences, and that of my peers, middle class life around the country is changing drastically. I've watched a number of families formerly in the upper middle class fall into the mundane middle class, and middle class folks fall into the lower classes. I wonder if the boom in SV has isolated many of you from this. If that's the case, I'm sincerely glad you don't have to deal with it -- it's depressing to do well in school and work hard, only to see the dreams of a stable, secure middle-class life float away. For most of us, it's just paycheck to paycheck now.

> For most of us, it's just paycheck to paycheck now.

Everything is going according to plan. When you see how perfectly all of this lines up with the interests of the plutocrats you just have to wonder to what degree it is conscious collusion. What lies do they tell themselves in the pursuit of economic power and the subsequent subjugation of the population, or have they completely dispensed with even the pretense of plebeian morality?

I know a few rich and I haven't seen something mentioned here:

Everything becomes boring. Hobbies are awesome because you have to anticipate and wait to do them. Imagine doing nothing but your hobbies 14 hours a day. Then when you're bored of all your hobbies you have nothing else to do. So you hit up vegas. That lasts 2-3 years then you call it. Anecdotal? Yes, but I've seen it happen way too often.

Figure out something to do. Just something, start a cheap cafe and hire workers, a manufacturing plant for wallpaper, whatever. Just have something to do thats not all about you so you don't have to keep asking yourself what should I do now? Becuase that question will become a thorn in your side.

I want to get rich because money, that commonplace, almost vulgar device, can be traded for time, the most precious thing in the universe, and for influence, a multiplier of time/action that can help me to achieve more good things in my life.

Can't most of these great injustices be solved by the newly rich person not bragging about it and living roughly on what they were consuming before plus 25-50%?

Yeah, yeah, you just got this big chunk of change and you want to spend it on Tesla cars and the French Laundry and vacation homes! But when you engage in flagrant consumption people notice and start wanting in on the action.

Figure out what the average amount consumed for someone in the 90th percentile and stick strictly to that budget (and you won't be taking on debt to do it!). Throw any excess money you have around in interesting investments and social ventures. Even if people find out you're loaded, if you're living modestly they'll know not to expect you to act that differently.

> Can't most of these great injustices be solved by the newly rich person not bragging about it and living roughly on what they were consuming before plus 25-50%?

Not if you listen to those (many) who consider it anti-social behaviour to hoard money instead of spending it (because spending feeds the economy, pays salaries ...), or even getting interest as a "no-work income".

[I disagree with those people: if your money does not participate in the economy, the relative value of other people's money increases]

The bank uses your money where you do or not.

I'm entirely uninterested in these people's problems. The mere question in the title seems preposterous, verging on offensive.

I think you're illustrating the first point of the article quite well.

I agree that that point is a valid complaint, but a complaint is all it is.

If the money was really bringing someone down so much, the problem could be dispensed with by writing one check to a charity of their choice.

The fact that wealthy people do not give all of their money away is proof that having it is better than not having it.

I don't think it's that simple. It's possible that you don't like what your life has become, but still wouldn't give your money away because that would make you even more unhappy. It's a nice problem to have, but we shouldn't trivialize the human psychology, just try to understand it. Nobody is completely rational, and even if part of them is rational, they will always have an emotional part. Choosing to be childless for instance, is pretty much the rational choice for many people, but that doesn't mean that would make them happy.

I completely agree, that is what I meant by saying that it is a valid complaint.

My disagreement with the article is simply that saying its better to be rich than not is understating it.

Of course wealth is not a panacea to the human condition. It is however a better way of living by at least an order of magnitude than the average middle class life in the harsh, socially atomized globalized economy of the developed world. At median income levels in a nation such as the US, essentials like proper health care, education and marital stability are difficult to grasp.

oh yea for sure. Then again, assuming you're not born into it, I would assume it's difficult to just give away a large portion of the wealth you've accumulated through hard work. There is also the 'rainy day fund'...which signifies another point the author made about worrying about investments. If he loses his money, and suddenly needs it there is a significant amount of regret.

You have to compare the worry over potentially losing investments to the worry of not having any investments or rainy day fund at all and being totally at the capricious mercy of an often cruel and arbitrary economy with a minimal safety net.

Flagged for linking to a site that is blatantly stealing content. Link should go to the original on Quora:


it says so right on the box:

"curaqion is a monthly curation of high quality answers from fascinating topics and questions on Quora."

I'd like to become rich. Not to buy stuff I can't buy today but because of the possibilities it gives you. If you have a few millions in your bank account, you can take whatever job you like, create a company without fearing that failure will put you on the street etc. Then again I can imagine the downsides, as the article explains. I think it all boils down to "dont tell people how rich you are".

Tldr version: http://tldr.io/tldrs/5113da0cb507aa413100001d/is-getting-ric...

Everyone live in their own personal bubble. Go volunteer at a food bank sometimes.

I guess I just can't follow these thoughts. Of course if your alternatives are "be rich" or "not be rich" than it is worth it. Why wouldn't it be? If the option is "abandon your family to attempt to get rich" versus "prioritize your family such that you are comfortable," it seems the latter will win.

Also, just because you get "rich" doesn't mean anyone else has to know that. It just means you no longer have to worry about money income problems. Please do not underestimate that, as that is HUGE.

My plan, if I ever manage to get rich, is to live like a student forever, without having to go to work. I don't really care for owning things, as long as I have got a bass guitar, a laptop and a cat, I'm happy.

So, why exactly can't you do that right now?

Tuition inflation?

So you think.

I'm just kidding. I'm the same way. What makes me happy is my four cats, making other people happy and having a great idea to work on.

But it's the idea part that can cause me problems. If I have a good idea I'll do nearly anything to make it happen. I'll spend my bill money to make it real. If/when I become money rich (I'm already rich in other ways) I may scale this risky behavior and still find myself in trouble (as I am now).


I sometimes wonder if the reason that I always push things to the limit in an attempt to do as much as possible with my resources is somehow down to years of playing strategy games on computers, where correctly timing several turns of complete poverty results in massive success 50% of the time.

Unfortunately, this behaviour doesn't translate well to a medium in which the "reset" button involves 6 years without access to credit.

Hasn't happened yet. Nearly. But fortunately not yet.

4 cats!? You must be rich already! lol

Rich in hairballs, yes.

I don't want to be rich, per se... I'd rather simply obtain "financial independence" where I am sufficiently happy with what I have and I can do what I absolutely love to do for a living and not necessarily have to worry about money. Getting "rich" would just simply jump me quicker to this state of "financial independence."

Don't give a loan to friends and family. Give a gift.

I'm not rich. But I do follow this one principle that I also strongly recommend.

Despite reading the entire post, I still want to be rich. That's pretty telling about how marginal all these problems sound to someone without money.

This quora thread provided a great deal of illumination for me on the question "Is getting rich worth it?"


Top answer summary: Here's my answer: being rich is better than not being rich, but it's not nearly as good as you imagine it is.

As much as I am working my butt off right now, if I don't get rich then it wouldn't have been worth it. When I do get rich, and for some reason I find it wasn't worth the sacrifices, then I will lie to myself about it. Humans have an amazing capacity for denial.

My putting arguments from an explicitly European perspective always gets me in trouble here. But here I go.

There may (MAY) be some Socalization [sic] going on here. I.e. Americans think this is what people do in America, therefore they must be like this everywhere.

Americans might keep expecting you to give them a car as a Christmas present. Europeans would never be so materialistic as to want or expect one. Have at it.

The overall TCO of a nice German car is easily $1m. So most people don't understand that 15m is only 15 cars. And I mean only. And you can't buy anything else on that hypothetical basis.

Is my partner into my or my money? Maybe I DON'T know the answer to that. But I'm past caring.

So, according to the author if you let people already in your life know about your wealth, they may act weird and have unreasonable expectations about sharing in your wealth. I think that can be a good thing. It brings out a side of people you never knew. It could tell you who your true friends and family are. The true ones are the ones who don't expect a free ride.

I object to the idea expressed near the end...that if you aren't happy now, money will not change that. While I am nowhere near as rich as the author, my financial situation has changed drastically in the last year. The lack of stress that I now experience is absolutely a factor in my increased happiness.

This title is slightly misleading." Most of the downsides he has about being rich revolve around OTHERS KNOWING THAT HE IS RICH, and are not a product of him actually being rich.

The post should be titled,"Why I Don't Want Anyone To Know When I Strike It Rich, Especially My Relatives."

Not for me but I do need enough money to fulfill what I want to. No excessive money needed.

Is eating healthier, living in a better environment, having access to better health services etc worth it? In the capitalist system you can't have them without a non trivial amount of money.

He says "being rich is better than not being rich..."

So sure it is worth it. Totally understood that it introduces other complications or it may not be as fulfilling as you imagined.

I don't know if its worth it, but I don't really like the alternative (being broke). These days, you either have money or you don't. There is no middle class.

My dad only gave me a few bits of advice, but on money he said, "Money does not buy happiness, but it does whitewash a lot of problems".

A good target would be to become a person worthy of the wealth. This is also the reason why lottery winners are said to go bust.

Honestly, I want to get rich. To have a stable life. To prove my self worth.

Your second reason is an interesting one. Winning the lottery may be nice, but I don't think it would impact my level of happiness in a big way. The confidence I'd get from selling my company for millions of dollars, that's another thing entirely. That's something I strive for.

You're right. Lottery is not one of my plan to get rich.

Other than money. I believe getting something you strive for is really worth it. It will give you happiness.

Money is the world's curse. May the Lord smite me with it.

There's only one way to find out for yourself.

Wealth simply amplifies who you already are.

Yes. Next question.

An extremely authoritative opinion from some Anonymous that appears more like speculations doesn't count.

Do this experiment: 1. Go to Google.com 2. Enter "filthy stinking" into the box 3. Notice the first autocomplete suggestion

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