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Top 10 Surprising Disadvantages Of Being Rich

by Himanshu Sharma
fact checked by Jamie Frater

It’d come as a surprise to no one that rich people enjoy a certain set of advantages the rest of us don’t. They’re overall healthier, more satisfied with their lives, and—most importantly—have a ridiculous amount of money, which is its own reward, really. The advantages of being rich have been discussed by philosophers and amateur financial bloggers alike, and for good reason; having a lot of money really is pretty awesome!

What they don’t tell you, though, is that there are quite a few hidden downsides to it, too, most of which remain largely undiscussed due to the unsaid social stigma around money. And no, we’re not talking about problems like ‘my lawn is too big’, either. Being rich comes with real issues that could potentially affect everything from your health to your personal relationships.

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10 Alcoholism

Even if we don’t realize it, a lot of people intuitively associate alcoholism with financial stress and lower income levels. While there may as well be some connection between the two, we can say for sure that it has nothing to do with the money itself. On the contrary—according to one study at least—alcoholism seems to be much more prevalent in the richer sections of the society.

Conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the study was carried out in over 40 nations in Europe. They found that countries like Britain, Ireland and Portugal drink the most, though there were differences in the rate of alcoholism within each country, too. Almost across Europe, the rich seem to be drinking much more than the poor.

While it may sound counter-intuitive, other studies suggest that it may simply have to do with access; rich people drink a lot because they have more alcohol to drink.[1]

9 Anxiety And Depression

There’s no doubt that being rich alleviates mental stress and raises your overall level of life satisfaction, though it comes with quite a few other mental issues, as well.

Being rich has been linked to higher levels of various mental disorders—like anxiety—in many studies in the past, along with a few other problems you wouldn’t expect. One study, for example, found that young people living in affluent suburbs are much more likely to display indicators of maladjustment—like higher levels of anxiety and depression, narcissism and substance abuse—than inner city kids.[2]

8 Making More Money Only Makes You Moderately Happier

We assume that most of our problems could be solved by just having more money, but as we’d prove—step by step—with this list, that’s not even close to being true. Being rich is associated with quite a few short and long-term problems, and the tradeoff is hardly worth it, too.

Making more money doesn’t increase your overall happiness beyond a point, unless you hit it really big. Research proves it, too; while it’s true that making more money comes with a higher level of happiness, it only applies till you hit a certain number. Beyond that, more money barely has an effect on your happiness level. That means that someone with a net worth of $10 million is likely to be as almost as happy as someone with $100 million, even if earning that $90 million still takes a huge amount of effort.[3]

7 It’s Boring

The one thing about getting rich that excites most people is the prospect of never having to work again. Imagine how much time you’d have for yourself if you simply had too much money to live off your entire life?

While it’s true that having a lot of money allows you more hours of the day for yourself than someone who has to work for a living, it also gets pretty boring. According to one millionaire, that’s actually one of the biggest disadvantages of making a lot of money. Working for food and shelter doesn’t just provide food and shelter, but also motivation to do even better in life (mostly to get even better food and a bigger shelter). A lack of that motivation and drive can—and often does—lead to other, bigger issues, like depression.[4]

6 It Makes You More Averse To Taking Risk

It’s a commonly-held notion that the richer you are, the more risk you take than others, simply because you have more money to risk. While that line of reasoning sounds accurate—as rich people do have much more leverage to, say, invest in a risky startup—science says it’s not, or at least not when a lot of money is involved.

Studies show that while rich people do like to take more risks, that only applies when the sum is relatively small. When it comes to larger amounts relative to their overall wealth, they’re actually the safest spenders we know of.[5]

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5 Stress

Looking at how bad the job market is right now for almost everyone, it’s fair to assume that the most stressed part of the workforce would be the younger and poorer one. Millennials and other younger generations are popularly seen as under higher levels of stress than any previous generation, too. From rising student debt to exorbitant property rents in most urban areas around the world, things don’t look too well for anyone who isn’t old and well-to-do.

As it turns out, though, that perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite a few studies indicate that older[6] and richer[7] workers actually report much higher levels of work-related stress than their younger counterparts. While that may mean that more money comes with more stress, it may also mean that younger, less-experienced professionals are just more tolerant towards everyday work issues.

4 Wealth Guilt

As the world gets ready to experience (yet another) economic slowdown, the differences between the haves and have-nots have become even starker. No matter where you look, there’s a growing—and rapidly-spreading—wave of discontentment against rising inequality and the excesses of power and money, something that first came into focus in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.

One of the social impacts of that wave of unrest is a growing sense of something called ‘wealth guilt’ among the wealthy, which is exactly how it sounds. The rich—even the ones doing it the right way and minding their own business—are increasingly taking measures to not come across as too rich, which is in direct contrast to the ‘got it, flaunt it’ attitude of the early 2000s.[8]

3 It Makes You Less Generous

If you take a quick survey of everyone around you that donates to charity, you’d find that quite a few people don’t do it because they just don’t have the spare cash. That’s fair enough, and would even lead you to assume that traits like generosity are just dependent on how much money you have.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all, and it has been proven by quite a few studies in the past. More money actually makes you more protective about what you have, and in turn makes you less generous.[9]

2 …And Less Empathetic

Making more money doesn’t just make you more protective about it. Some research suggests that the more power and money you get, the less empathetic you are to the plight of others. While it may sound depressing, there are some valid evolutionary reasons for it.

During our hunter-gatherer days, leaders were supposed to be good at leading, and any distraction or empathy towards, say, an injured member of the pack would have jeopardized the safety of everyone else. The reduced empathy helped leaders get better at their job and successfully pass on their genes. That’s why the people with the most amount of power seldom use it to fix things; they’re just not evolutionarily-wired to do it.[10]

1 Narcissism

It’s unfair to paint any group with a single brush, though the ‘entitled brat’ stereotype is too widespread to not mention here. It’s a common notion that the richer you are, the more self-absorbed you become, though how accurate is it, really?

If scientific studies are anything to go by, pretty accurate. At least five studies suggest that being rich is overwhelmingly associated with narcissistic tendencies—like regularly looking at yourself in the mirror—and entitlement. The reasons for that, however, aren’t as simple as ‘rich people are just jerks’.

Having more money than others comes with the social and psychological cost of reduced trust in the world around you, as you never know who just likes you for your money. It leads you to only look inwards for solutions, which is obviously not a very healthy way to live in a society, leading to mental issues like narcissism.[11]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater
Himanshu Sharma

Himanshu has written for sites like Cracked, Screen Rant, The Gamer and Forbes. He could be found shouting obscenities at strangers on Twitter, or trying his hand at amateur art on Instagram.

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