*This might be the first time I post straight from my journal with little editing and… yes, the verbaige of a Truck Driver. So, be warned. Lot’s of swearing/cursing in this one. Enjoy!
In all my years of working with extremely wealthy people doing everything from bookkeeping to financial management, let me tell you, I’ve learned a thing or two about money.
I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that it doesn’t buy you happiness – you’ve heard that a million times before and if we’re all being honest, some of us would like to test that hypothesis. Yeah, we’d all like to have such an abundance of money and see for ourselves that it doesn’t buy us joy. Aimiright?
However, I am going to mention, that like everything else, too much of anything – even money – is not always a good thing.
I like to explain it like this – a slice of chocolate cake. My favorite. If I only had one slice of chocolate cake, that one slice would only be enough for me. I would enjoy it, I would cherish it and I would savor every last morsel for as long as possible.
If I had been given a lifetime of chocolate cake and had it at my disposal – well, in the beginning, that would SEEM brilliant! I would eat a few slices maybe in the first week, then share it with as many people as possible, then maybe eat a couple more slices (this really isn’t that far-fetched, I love, love, love chocolate cake), then eventually, I’d get fat, uhem, fatter – and more importantly, sick of chocolate cake. So sick of it, that I might try and do different things to it to make it more delicious, more fun? Maybe add a different frosting, cut it up into different shapes…doesn’t matter – I have chocolate cake to burn so I’m happy to use it, abuse it and just play with it. Some might think I’m starting to obsess about my chocolate cake.
And my friends, are now kind of sick of me and my chocolate cake issues. Which in turn, pisses me off because… I gave them some! They should understand. They should care. They should want to be around me all the time because I gave them so much…chocolate cake…
You see where I’m going with this? It’s sounds a little exaggerated, but it’s actually not. That’s the sad part.
I’ve worked for many ultra-wealthy folk in the past 20 years. I’ve also worked for “regular” wealthy folk, some self-made, some inherited wealthy folk – and the one thing I can tell you for absolute certainty is NONE of them are happier than any other “poor” or “middle class” folk I know. Not one of them.
The struggle for poor and middle-class folk is real. Rich folk tend to forget that it’s hard to get a credit card or loan if you don’t have the right cache or connection. It’s that weird chicken-egg thing: to get a credit card you need good credit. To get good credit you should have a credit card and be able to pay it off. So some people will jump in and say, “…just get a secured card.” Uhem, dumb-ass, a secure card means you need to put some money upfront AND still be able to pay other purchases monthly. The disconnect between how rich people view why poor people can’t “get it together” is fierce AF (excuse my language).
I tell this story about how “disconnected” folk are all the time – I had this one client who would wait for me to come into her home so she could show me everything she’d bought from Barney’s and Saks the weekend before. It would be an array of ridiculous purchases. Nothing that I would ever see her wearing EVER, but a display of disposable wealth that would just make you sick. To put it in perspective – every month, her husband would give her $30,000 to spend. Did you hear me? Every. Month. $30 Grand. Not to pay the bills, not to pay the mortgage, but to spend on things like clothes shopping, hair-cuts, waxing, psychic readings, dinners, lunch, nails, blah, blah, blah…
She would then mark (rabbit ear?) the catalog of outfits she thought I should think about buying because they’d “look so good on me”. This lady was out of her mind. And I told her that after the third time she tried to push me to go shopping during my lunch break to buy something that would have cost my entire monthly salary, that she was being ridiculous. I quit after that exchange. She would have fired me anyways. I humiliated her. I had reminded her that she was only paying me $15 an hour and why would she believe I could spend $1,000 on a pair of shorts I would never wear? She was “appalled”. She actually used that word – appalled. I think that’s one of the first times I said “bitch please” to a client to their face before I walked out the door. Aaaah, the good ‘old days…
Now, before anyone comes at me, I didn’t just quit because of that. Clearly, there were other issues. The worst one being that she treated her house staff so badly, but that’s another story for another time.
I learned a lot from that experience. One, this woman didn’t have a lot of friends. If she did, she wouldn’t have been trying to chat with me or her other employees, about outfits and things she bought. She’d let us do our work and call a girlfriend for that kind of share. When I look back on it, I realize everyone she had around her on a regular basis was someone she paid to be there. That’s true for a lot of people of wealth. It’s hard to make friends regardless of your financial status. But it’s another layer of difficulty if money is in the mix. So unless you have friends who have the same amount of wealth as you do then, you’ll tend to isolate or be very suspicious of everyone who may want to connect.
And that’s been my experience with a lot of the wealth folk I have dealt with in the past. An enormous amount of fear of being taken advantage of, or not being liked for who they really are but for what their money can do for someone. I have yet to meet a person of wealth who was secure in who they were and the people they had around them. Again, I’ve been doing this work for a long, long time.
Here’s the thing. I’ve had money before. I mean not rich-rich. But I’ve had earnings of $250K a year at one point and couldn’t give away the money fast enough. Not because I’m a do-gooder – which is not a bad thing in my book, but because I wanted to help as many friends and family that I could! But, if I’m being honest, even when I made that kind of money, I wasn’t happy. I was happy in moments to help people – but the work that I did, made me ill. I was traveling all the time (and not in a good way, but for work) and never doing the one thing that would make me happy – creating, sharing, writing. I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed. But had plenty of cash.
My friend Mia mentioned to me various times that she’s always admired how I handled money. Whether I have it or not, I’m always “okay” about it. She mentioned that she didn’t understand how I always managed regardless of the situation. I’ve thought about that a lot.
I truly don’t care about money. I know a lot of people say they don’t care about money, but it’s not true. People are consumed by how much they have and identify value to who they are because of it. I truly don’t. I will tell you when I’m flush with cash and when I’m not. I will accept help when it’s offered graciously and when I have, I give – I help, I do.
The happy medium has nothing to do with how much money you have, but with the ability to be who you are regardless of your income.
Let me repeat that….
The best way to have joy in your life is to understand that money does NOT define you. Whether you have it or don’t have it, it is not a true representation of WHO YOU ARE in the world.
Does money help? Sure, it does. But not in the things you think. For all the things it would help – like paying off your loans and credit card and paying your bills on time, helping you buy that house or take that dream vacation you’ve always wanted – at the end of the day, if you are not solid in WHO you are in the world, lots of money will inevitably NOT make you any happier than you are right now.
Didn’t someone once say, “Mo, money, Mo Problems.” I would change it up a bit and say, “Mo money, Different Problems.”
Look, if you win the lottery or come into a surplus of cash, I’m not saying to walk away from it. Oh my good Lord, NO! What I am saying is – don’t be so jealous of what you think others have that you don’t have. Things are not always what they seem. And in my experience, never what they seem. I wouldn’t trade my life for ANY of the clients I’ve had in the past. Not. One.
Money comes and money goes, but who you are in the world and how you deal with all of it – good and bad – that’s the most priceless commodity there is.
And now, I have this craving for chocolate cake. Jeesh.
Until next time…