Why Even Millionaires Aren't Happy About Their Finances


How much money would you need in your bank account to make you happy? Would $250,000 do the trick? Maybe a cool $1 million? How about $5 million?

Well, a study from the Harvard Business School asked over 4,000 millionaires that question. The magic figure, it seems, is around $8 million; less than that, and life just wasn't giving them everything they needed. However, the vast majority of respondents said that to be truly happy, they'd need far more than that.

How can any of us be happy if that massive amount of cash isn't making those people content? Or to put it another way, what can we learn from these loaded malcontents?

Things are not as important as experiences

Whether you die a pauper or a billionaire, it is highly unlikely that you will look back at your life on your deathbed and wish you had bought more stuff.

A 2015 UBS Investor Watch polled 2,215 millionaires to learn what their biggest regrets were. It turns out, rich people have the same regrets as the rest of us; namely, not spending more time with family, focusing too much on career, not traveling enough, and not taking more chances.

Rich or poor, we can all agree that "stuff" brings only fleeting happiness. Indeed, when most people grab something from a burning house, it's usually a photo album, letters, or other personal keepsakes. Everything else can be replaced, and in many cases will be obsolete in a few years anyway. (See also: 5 Reasons Being a Millionaire Is Overrated)

Don't try to keep up with your richer neighbors

Trying to keep up with the Joneses is never going to work out for you, and that is true regardless of where you live and what you earn. And even once you strike it "rich," the problem doesn't go away.

Millennial and Gen X millionaires are facing this age-old struggle more than other generations. In all likelihood, social media and technology are to blame. According to the UBS Investor Watch survey, 48 percent of millennial millionaires feel they must keep up with the Joneses. Coming in right behind them are Gen X millionaires, at 44 percent. By contrast, only 22 percent of baby boomer millionaires feel they have to "keep up." It's said that we measure our misery by our neighbors, and now those neighbors are on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, showing everyone just how fabulous their lives are. You really don't know the back story, though. They could be drowning in debt, in a marriage that's falling apart, or dealing with severe emotional problems.

Focus on yourself and your family and friends. Are you good? Great! Don't pay any mind to the trappings of other people's lives. (See also: 4 Money Lessons You Can Learn From the Joneses)

Your time on this planet is finite

From the moment you are born, the clock is ticking. No one knows just how long that clock will tick, but one thing is for certain — one day, it will stop. So many millionaires and billionaires realize this too late. They spend decades amassing great fortunes, spending weekends and evenings doing deals and taking business trips. Before they know it, they're 65 and have 20 years (not the best 20, either) to make up for lost time.

Don't find yourself chasing the almighty dollar for so long that you have no time left to enjoy it. Instead, make plans to see and do the things you want to do while you are young and healthy enough to really enjoy them.

Have you always dreamed of visiting Australia or Iceland? Find a way to make it happen. Want to backpack around Europe? How can you do it sooner rather than later?

When it comes to money and treasures, you can't "take it with you." But you can live life to the fullest, and look back on years of wonderful memories. Your time will always be way more valuable than money.

Good health is critical to happiness

Money can buy you almost anything. When it comes to health care, it can get you the best doctors, the most advanced treatments, and access to medicines and cures that many people just cannot afford. But when you're sick, you're sick — and that can have a huge impact on your happiness.

Steve Jobs or David Bowie would have gladly traded their great wealth for good health and a long life, but they both died from cancer. Queen Elizabeth I said, "All my possessions for a moment of time" on her deathbed. So, you may not be rich, but you should do everything you can to stay healthy. Exercise, a balanced diet, and plenty of laughter are all invaluable.

Friends and family cannot be bought

Well, some "friends" can, but are they really the kind of friends you'd want anyway? Rich or poor, you need good people around you. True friends and trusted family members are essential to a happy life. And almost every rich person out there has said that they wished they had spent more time with their parents, children, and siblings instead of working day and night to make the millions.

Learn from these people. Family and friends are more important than money. Make time for them, and when you've done that … make even more time. They're worth far more than possessions or fat bank accounts.

Do more of what makes you happy

It's easier said than done. After all, how many of us are stuck in a job we really do not like, but have no other choice because bills need to be paid?

Many millionaires spend decades doing things they don't like only because it forged their path to wealth. However, they also regret spending so much time being miserable for the sake of money.

So, even if you are in a job that is draining the life out of you, find ways to balance it with the stuff you really love to do. Maybe you can turn your favorite hobby into a side-hustle — one that could eventually become profitable and become your main source of income. (See also: 6 Signs It's Time to Make Your Side Gig Your Career)

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