Ask the Readers: Can Someone Be "Too" Wealthy? (Chance to win!)

By Linsey Knerl on 28 September 2010 (Updated 4 October 2010) 60 comments

**Congrats to our winners!**

  • (Comment #26) gina - I don't think that you can have too much money, but just like we all do, you must know how to use it wisely
  • Twitter user oshkoshbgosh123   @wisebread #WBAsk you can be "too wealthy" if you save just for the sake of saving but are stingy otherwise.
  • Facebook user: Eric Starker

 

Is there such as thing as too much money? Can there be a point of wealth that is just ridiculous, even? Or is all accumulated wealth good for something (maybe philanthropy, community, or growing the economy?) We want to know your opinion on the matter.

In today's turbulent political and social climate, there is much talk about wealth and whether it should be capped or even shared. How do you weigh in on this issue? Please take this opportunity to share your thoughts on wealth in a tasteful, polite, and civil manner. All inappropriate comments will be deleted and your entry won't count.

Win one of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards!

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

How to Enter:

  • Post your answer in the comments below,
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry.)
  • Tweet your answer. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, October 4th at 11:59 pm CST. Winners will be announced after October 4thon the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • Only tweets that contain both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" will be entered. (Otherwise, we won't see it.)
  • Only those who have "Liked" both our Facebook page and the contest update will be entered.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Betty D.

As long as the money is put to good use, I don't think you can be too wealthy. I once read that Michael Jackson's money could cure the hunger problem in Biafra. I always wondered why he didn't.

Guest's picture
Kristy

As long as some people don't have enough money, yes, you can have too much.

Guest's picture
Deb

No, I don't think any financial abundance can't be managed. But then, I've always said I want to be a philanthropist when I grow up.

And I'm wondering how the opposite works - can you be too poor? (.. living in a situation where you cannot grow your own food or access clean water notwithstanding.) It seems as though no matter how little you have, someone else is doing better with less. It seems like a lot of it has to do with setting your mind on the difference between true needs and wants - something many of us cannot or do not want to do.

Guest's picture
Patrick

There is no such thing as "too wealthy," but, in my opinion, there are positive and negative ways to use one's wealth when accumulated. More power to everyone to accumulate wealth, to profit from your talents and hard work, but use it, as with any tool, wisely. Don't succumb to the lavish and gawdy. Don't let it go to your head. Help others with it. Use it to improve society, spur innovation and education, cure illness, feed the hungry and have a positive ripple effect throughout the community. It doesn't take millions of dollars to do this either. Even a few dollars can change someone's life for a moment.

Guest's picture
Kelli

The only people that I consider too wealthy are those that have plenty of money but obviously don't know what to do with it, so they spend it on drugs, etc. Celebs like Paris Hilton come to mind. In my opinion, they don't deserve their money if that's the best way they can come up with to spend their lives.

Guest's picture
NJJ

Yes, money-wise I think that people can be to wealthy, After all gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. I don't have a problem with those that have honestly worked hard to accumulate wealth like super stars, media moguls or athletes But I don't like the attitude that some of them have regarding wealth like those that feel owed and entitled special privileges because they are wealthy I'm a firm believer that your only truly blessed when you help others. That's why I think its important for those who have been blessed with a massive fortune to pay if forward to help others who were in their similar situation before becoming famous. Paying-it-Forward to others not only shows that you care about humanity but that money really isn't everything as it can always come and go but a simple act of kindness can sure last a lifetime

Guest's picture
ryan

at some point, yes. Beyond legacy money. Like $250 million dollars. at that point, you stop trying to accumulate, b/c whats the point. Unless it is for altruistic reasons, or the love of the game.

Guest's picture
Michael T.

It's all in the eye of the beholder. *I* can't have too much money, but anyone who is not me certainly can and needs to share the wealth!

Guest's picture
Raina

I think it's someone's right to earn as much money as he or she desires by legal means, but that's not to say it's not selfish once you've already got a few trillion dollars and are still trying to find ways to screw people and whatnot. Hey, nothing wrong with being selfish as long as you admit it.

Guest's picture

No. The question itself implies that there is a standard of "just enough" with which to measure against. Someone in India living in a small room with his/her entire family might think that I am wealthy because I have a 3 bedroom townhome for just the four of us. But just a mile away, there are 4000-8000 square foot homes with 6 bedroooms and just a family of four.

Guest's picture
Des

No, I don't think the amount of money is as important as a person's perspective on money. If it doesn't own you or define you, and you got it through legal and ethical means, I don't see there being any certain amount that could be considered *too* much money.

Guest's picture
Lynda

you can be "too wealthy" if you save just for the sake of saving but are stingy otherwise.

Guest's picture
Dee Medlock

I don't think you could have too much money. There are so many things the wealthy people could do to help others in their communities.

Guest's picture
Bobby Berry

I think if a person works hard and earns a lot of money they deserve to keep it and do whatever they want with their money. No one should tell them what they can or cannot do.

Guest's picture
Aaron

I think so.. if you are "too" rich, it probably means you aren't giving your money away or helping those less fortunate.

Guest's picture
Becca

Today I talked about this exact topic with friends at the gym. We had a discussion as to why health insurance is going up. Obscene insurance company profits? Most people are surprised to learn that the industry average for health insurers is a profit margin of about 3%. Well, what about the obscene pay to CEOs? If you look up the CEO's income (including income from stock options) and divide that by the number of people his company covers, each insured person might be contributing just $1 annually to the CEO's income.

One of my friends objected because it was a matter of scale. It felt wrong to her that some people have so much. If that CEO worked for free, it would matter very little to each of the people insured. I am not worried about it. It is between him and God, or his conscious, or his sense of morality.

If it is a matter of scale, who is to decide what is the right scale? If 1000 to 1 is not okay, is 100 to 1 okay? If so, why? One could argue no one should have more than anyone else.

The way I see it, I am super-wealthy by the standards of people in third world countries. How many times have we seen those ads for kids with cleft pallets, and read that for a mere $250 we could profoundly change one kid's life. Yet have we donated? I haven't. And yet nearly every family in this country could afford to send $250 overseas. Many of us in the middle class could fund 10 operations a year. But instead we have Netflix, or feel we deserve to eat out once in a while, or want a fancier cell phone. We don't donate because somehow we feel disconnected from what we know is happening in other parts of the globe. We fault CEOs for being similarly disconnected. It's the same thing.

I would not trade places with any CEO. The reality is few of us would want to do what he did to get there... starting as an exceptional high school student, getting into a first-rate business school, many years of working 80 hours a week to get to the top of a corporation, doing work I would not want to do, and living some place I would not want to live.

I have only one life to live, and I like the one I have. I am rich in different ways. I've have the time to spend with my kids. I have a degree of freedom. My basic needs are met. I am happy. So I don't worry if someone has more money than I do.

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Laura D

I don't think you could set a specific amount of money as being "too much," but I do think it's possible to be "too wealthy." My interpretation of Christianity leads me to believe that we're called to share what we have and help others. Accumulating money just for the sake of accumulating money seems like a wasteful and selfish thing to do.

Guest's picture
Jackie H

I believe that someone is too wealthy if they start loving things/money more than people...so it's not an exact amount, per se, but when your attitude starts to change. My 2 cents. :)

Guest's picture
RYR

I tend to think that since this is America, a person is entitled to keep all monies he/she earns, excepting taxes, of course. I think every dollar earned brings with it responsibility. I echo the comments about Paris Hilton and other "squanderers", but I don't believe their monies should be capped.

Guest's picture
Steven P

No they cannot.

Guest's picture
Crystal

No I don't think you can be "too wealthy". But after you hit the trillions, it does get a little ridiculous. I hope people that wealthy spread the love to philanthropic causes, the arts and schools.

Guest's picture

Don't forget that money is merely a medium of exchange, which we use because it's easier to conduct transactions with than the investments (in one's labor, or in other things) that it represents.
The only way someone can have too large an accumulation of wealth is if he acquired it dishonestly. The basketball player who works diligently at his craft, exploiting his opponents' weaknesses and finding an employer ready to profit off his labor for an annual $25 million ($40 million with endorsements) doesn't have "too much" money. But the $25,000/year retail clerk who steals $100 out of the petty cash drawer does.

Guest's picture
Guest

If someone says "at this point, money is just a way to keep score," they are saying they have too much money. Let them have their "score" and take their money away, so it can be used for something more useful, like improving the world.

Money and wealth doesn't just materialize from nothing. It's created by work. So if someone has so much money that you can't imagine how it's possible that said person worked so hard, or so efficiently to merit that much money -- then they probably have too much money. These days, CEOs with 7 figure salaries are suspect, in my opinion.

Guest's picture
Emily

You're too wealthy when all you can think about is your money and you become obsessed with keeping it. When you're terrified of losing any fraction of it, then you have too much.

Guest's picture
Zenc

"Greed is go(o)d", says a famous quote from the movie Wallstreet.
This is not a reasonable question because how can you measure wealth objectively and still ask for someones opinion?
But to play along I would claim there is no limit to the sky... its just about your image in the public and you living with yourself. Because there are many different types of greed.
There is the positive greed that makes you want to achieve goals and improve your life and that of your family and there is the greed to rip somebody off like the Goldman Sachs greed, kick your own clients butt on that "shitty deal".
Can someone be too wealth.
I doubt that.

Guest's picture
gina

I don't think that you can have too much money, but just like we all do, you must know how to use it wisely

Guest's picture
Meghan

No, I just hope the person who has all the money is grounded and knows how to be a good steward of it. Actually, if there were more weathly people, it could improve society as a whole because more givers = more recievers.

Sadly, you often hear of horror stories when it comes to people becoming rich quick or greed. Those are examples of the negatives.

Guest's picture
W. Ly

There is no such thing as having too much as long as you are an enlightened person and understand that altruism is the only way to live a fulfilled life.

Guest's picture
Eric

Yes, you can be "too wealthy", but it is not a specific numeric value. It is your attitude with money and your level of contentment. If you are squandering your money in an irresponsible lifestyle, then you are too wealthy! (See today's "reality" stars and pro-atheletes...too much money way too early in life leading to a troubled life)

Guest's picture
Dawn

This is a tough question to answer as it all depends on your personal circumstances. Wealth seems to have a lot of judgement attached to it - we want to feel that those who are wealthy "deserve" their money and worked hard for it in a manner which we find acceptable. A while ago, I read a study that equated happiness with wealth. The results showed that up to $75k annual income, each increase n income did have a positive affect on a person's happiness but that after that income level, the degree of happiness did not increase at the same ratio. I do believe that money can change your life for the better if you realize it is merely a tool and that the accumulation of it alone does not make you an important or worthy person. However, I don't think the government should legislate what I consider to be a moral choice. People are allowed to be greedy and selfish even if it isn't the moral thing to do. The only choice we have is how we decide to use our own money, reagrdless of the amount, to be a positive influence in the world. Thanks for the giveaway!

Guest's picture
mary

If this abundance of money has been made due with the sweat of the "worker bees", and the scale of justice used to measure the quality of life all players experience is way off balance...yes indeed - someone can be too wealthy.

The word of the century is greed.

Having shared this thought, one must remember that our Fore- Fathers were wealthy land owners. Citizens of our country were simply grateful for having a job. Our Fore-Fathers abundance of money, exposure to education and, the opportunity to network with the elite few resulted in an economy that was in all truth a monopoly on the market of dollars. Hence born the grateful, for anything worker bees.

Well, worker bees are far more educated and have awaken. The word Greed means no more will you live a life of abundance based on my sweat when you offer me a life of scrambling for the basic necessitates. Shelter, food, warmth, health and education.

Guest's picture
kerrythomas

There is no such thing as being too healthy, too wealthy, or too wise.

Guest's picture
gt0163c

I think the idea that someone can be "too wealthy" places too much value (pun not intended) on money. Money itself is neither good nor bad, profitable (again, pun not intended) nor evil. It just is. It's the attitudes which people have about money, those things which drive people in how they use their money that are good or bad.

I also think it's wrong to put a cap on wealth or require people to share what they have made in terms of money. I think it's good and right for those who are wealthy to give to those who have less, to an extent. But those are my opinions and, at least living in the US, I don't get to enforce my opinions on others.

Now, on an individual level, I think that someone can be too wealthy for their own good. A person who has issues with money and wealth may be better off, more emotionally/spiritually healthy at a certain economic level rather than at a higher economic level. The idea of the man who continues to work long hours in the pursuit of more wealth, at the detriment to his already financially stable family comes to mind. But that's an individual thing and can not and should not be regulated/enforced.

Guest's picture
de

You only have too much if it becomes your life.

Guest's picture
Margaret

Who am I to say? "Too wealthy" is subjective. I think we have become a nation of jealous, envious, judgmental people who think we all should be entitled to LV purses and McMansions. We watch "reality" shows about celebrity weddings and homes, and over the top sweet 16 birthdays...and we feel we are entitled to those things. When we cannot afford them, we blame the rich. Who cares? Focus on your own life, your own success and your own happiness....stop worrying if other people are too rich.

Guest's picture
Guest

Margaret, You nailed it! I could not have said it better myself. Our entire country needs to change its view of almost everything. No one here anymore is willing to accept being just happy....everyone measures success by what the neighbor has. They peer out the window of their cheaply built albeit, MASSIVE home and envy the "Jones" new Lexus. It is ridiculous! These people need to face facts. In any society, not everyone can be rich. Our jobs go overseas...why? Because we are all to good to work at a factory....unless of course that factory pays as much a being a doctor....and " I had Better not get dirty". Then we wonder why things cost so much. We get upset at large corporations for moving operations overseas. Why wouldn't they? They cannot afford not too..we are simply too expensive.People in other countries are happy to have a lower paying job and live a moderate life. More of us should be.

Guest's picture
Walter Daniels

I believe that it is possible to be "too rich." Beyond a certain point, the money controls your life. Bill Gates is a good example. He and his family need bodyguards to prevent kidnapping attempts. The only way to have a normal life, is to either be anonymous, or stay below a certain point.
Once I have enough to enjoy a "normal life," do charity work, and leave something for the future, I don't need more. I don't even want it.

Guest's picture
Michelle

I don't believe you can be "too" wealthy. You can have wealth as long as wealth doesn't have you.

Guest's picture
Anne

Yes someone can be too wealthy, as one persons wealth is anothers poverty. If someone is making too much, someone is spending too much.

There are some good articles about this and credit counselling at nomoredebts.org . I highly recommend checking them out.

Guest's picture
Bev

No, you can't be too wealthy. It's great that we live in a free country where we have the liberty and opportunity to earn. If we start putting parameters around how much is too much, we lose our freedom.

Guest's picture
CRuth

Yes, there is such a thing as "too much" wealth. Some gain wealth to just have it; it's more about being sensible and sensitive to the world around them. Seriously, one can't "live" on $32 million a year? That more than some make in several lifetimes...those are the people I'm talking about.

Guest's picture
carma

if the money was earned ethically and through hard work, I'd say "no"

Guest's picture
Eric

It depends on the person, I expect. The more money you have, the harder it is to figure out how to use it well, and keep it from causing enmity with friends and such.

Guest's picture

I don't think you can be, and I'd love to try to be super-rich to find out! (For research purposes only of course ;)

Guest's picture
Kim Caron-Lohman

Yes, I do believe that someone can be too wealthy. It's important to take care of your own needs and those of your family and have an adequate nest egg. But after that it's all fluff. Rather than hoard money I'd rather let it go.... out to help someone in need.

Guest's picture
Marie

No, because we all have different levels of what's "enough" - and most people probably don't have a sense of what's enough - they just want MORE. We can judge "wealthy" people's spending all we want, but compared to the average person in the world, if you make more than $1 a day, you are wealthy.

Having said that, I think we should all think about ways that we can share our money with the community or those less fortunate. Even if you think you are not wealthy, a small donation here and there would do wonders for a child who is without food, for example.

Guest's picture
Melissa Pont

There's such a thing as too much wealth when it's used for selfish reasons. If you have billions and are not giving away to those in need, that is far too much wealth.

Guest's picture
Michelle

I think when you start defining yourself with money, that's when you've become to wealthy.

Guest's picture
Guest

The question is the wrong kind of question if you think about it. It presumes to come from a perspective of not having enough. The thing that is striking about it is that wealth doesn't get handed out (except in the few inheritance cases). Someone had to work real hard and smart for some time doing something in order for it to materialize as a byproduct of something they love doing anyway.
I grew up in a household where my stepfathers networth was 20 million, you would never know about it though. I didn't for years. He grew up in the depression and worked hard. Got an education and worked hard. Helped start a business with 2 other guys and worked hard. He spent spare time going to school. His entertainment was reading, or taking clients out to dinner. He didn't own a car until he retired because he had a company vehicle. He was disgusted with the idea of purchasing a vehicle since it was a poor investment choice. He viewed everything as an investment, either a good one or bad one. We didn't have the latest and greatest gadgets and brand name clothing. We never lacked for anything, but the marketers had no sway in the house. He is the norm for the wealthy people that I know, not the exception.

If you want to excel, just show up and work. Most people stop at just showing up.

The real question should be, why do you feel you don't have enough and why? Leave others out of that question and see about the results.

Guest's picture
Guest

Wealth is at the root of many of our current social ills. I suggest a possible solutuon is to CAP all individual income at $10,000/month or $120K/yr. This solves endless issues and funnels billions back into companies or jobs VS corporate exec's, and a very limited few. You have to ask yourself if anyone needs to make more than $500/day? When every other country instituted National Health Care, it required that they control costs, reduce and cap salaries. It was predicted that doctors would walk away in disgust, YET... this did not happen. Weeding out those in it for the money mainly coudl be a good thing. Only a handful of individuals with uber wealth have used this for the common good. (out of 300 Billion poeple)

Guest's picture
Sushi

If you're using your wealth negatively or are otherwise managing it poorly, then it's definitely possible to be too wealthy.

Guest's picture
DP

Too wealthy? Yes, absolutely. Accumulating riches just isn't healthy nor just.

Guest's picture
At least make hte captchas in english, please.

God forbid your multi-million dollar idea which allows you to accumulate wealth should actually employ people to share in the profits of your idea...

Guest's picture
Shea

No, I don't think you can be too wealthy. You have the right to keep what you've earned. I am not a proponent of socialism where someone else decides you have too much money and that it should go instead to the collective populace.

That being said, I don't believe that those who are wealthy beyond imagination should not have morals, ethics and a philanthropist drive.

Helping your fellow man is laudable, but having someone force you to do it because they think you have more money than you deserve, is not.

Guest's picture
Guest

"Too wealthy"? No such thing. Wealth is being self-sufficient, or having the means of production (including having enough accumulated money) to make you self-sufficient without depending on outside sources.

WHAT YOU DO WITH IT, however, is another matter. I point to Bill Gates & Warren Buffett as examples. Are they wealthy? You bet! Didi they EARN it (as opposed to senior employees of certain companies that were bailed out by CONgress) Yup, they sure did!

GREED and Lust For Power, however, is a different matter. You can confuse them very easily with the healthy self-interest desire to be wealthy.

Guest's picture

Interesting question. It also applies one's values to someone else.
We can look at someone driving a Ferrari and we don't know if
a) it's dads
b) it's mortgaged (15 yr mortgage for these things)
c) the driver just donated $10M to help a tornado struck village in the Pacific.

I see a billionaire (Warren Buffet) living what appears to be a frugal life (last I checked, my TV is bigger) and planning to give it all to charity. Then a see a guy (Trump) who took advantage of the rules, legally of course, and after bankruptcy, still claims to own a fortune. I don't care for his attitude or his lack of philanthropy. None of my business, of course, but when I remark about Trump, it's not envy, my hair is my own and my ego is in check. And I know many who have far more than I do, and happy for most of them.

Guest's picture
T

Yes, I believe someone can be "too" wealthy it encourages a person to buy more and use more resources than necessary for one person. They would spend excessively on things and feel like they will never have enough money it will lead to greed and dangerous behavior because they might feel they are above the law. Also they may feel they are above others with less.

Guest's picture
Night Runner

I don't think it's possible to be too wealthy... Those who climbed the social ladder deserve to hold on to their money.

Guest's picture
Mim

Recent research has suggested that anything over $75,000/year doesn't make a person any happier, and can in fact add to your woes. I make way less than that, but I'm happy to believe it. :-)