Unless you learn to let go of your materialist cravings things, that is.
On Sunday, The New York Times published an article called “The Millionaires Who Don’t Feel Rich.” in this article, you will meet lots of millionaires from Silicon Valley. They have net worth measuring in the millions of dollars, sometimes tens of millions of dollars. As I write this, I am certain that I would retire if I had $2 million. After all, even if invested at 5%, $2 million would produce $100,000 per year of interest. Tell me who couldn’t survive on $100,000 per year? This article from The New York Times suggests that I should not be so sure of what I would do under such circumstances.
The problem seems to be that many of these multimillionaires feel compelled to buy expensive houses and cars. They feel compelled to send their children to the best schools and to take exotic vacations. All of these things cost considerable money. What do you do to keep the money flowing? You keep working. Take for instance, Mr. Hal Steger, featured in the article:
Each day Mr. Steger continues to toil in what a colleague calls “the Silicon Valley salt mines,” working as a marketing executive for a technology startup company, still striving for his big strike. Most mornings, he can be found at his desk by seven. He typically works 12 hours a day and logs an extra 10 hours over the weekend.
Steger and many other Silicon Valley millionairs have “made it,” you see. 70 hours of high stress work. Don’t forget to subtract out the commuting time, chores around the house and, of course, sleep. If you commute for an hour per day, do an hour of chores (laundry, shopping, cleaning up, maintaining your car, fixing up, paying bills) and 8 hours per day sleeping, that leaves you a grand total of 23 hours per week for leisure.
A big reason that many of the multimillionaires are not satisfied with the money they already have is that they notice others who have much more. According to Gary Kreman, the founder of match.com (a popular Internet dating service), “everyone around here looks at the people above them.” The article quotes from numerous financially unsatisfied residents of Silicon Valley, including numerous people having net worth between $2 million and $5 million.
This article reignites my interest in why people so deeply crave having things that they don’t need. So many of us, including all of us non-millionaires, feel that we need things that we merely want. Such cravings make us slaves to our possessions. They own us. I’ve written about this deep craving to display expensive things from the viewpoint of evolutionary psychology here and here and here.
About the Author (Author Profile)Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Daylight Atheism > The Treadmill | January 1, 2010