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What Rich People Really Worry About

When money is no object, what replaces the stress dreams everyone else has about debt and their bank balances?

by Nicole Garcia Merida
19 February 2020, 9:00am

Photo: VICE

Wealthy people don't have to worry about the same kind of things as us common muck.

Making rent is of little concern when you own three properties outright. Putting food on the table just means clicking "order again" on your £600 weekly Ocado shipment. Even your daily commute is more comfortable because you can afford the outrageous luxury of an annual business class train ticket, or – if you're Sunday Times Rich List rich – just hire someone to drive you door to door.

But rich people are in fact also human, so must have some worries keeping them up at night. But what?

Jonah*, 27
Software engineer

Nothing keeps me awake at night these days, except for when family are very unwell. The most stressed I’ve felt in a while was a few months ago when my cat got sick, but I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend several hundred pounds out of pocket without a moment’s thought. We called a very good vet to the house and everything was fine.

I don’t think being financially comfortable is just about the obvious, like being able to pay rent or bills. It’s also about stuff like this, which is immeasurably easier to deal with when you have money. The most stressful thing for me to think about right now is politics, but I wouldn't say I'm actively stressed about it. I'm relatively insulated from it, in that I could emigrate very easily in my profession if push came to shove. I'm not really stressed. The question of “what do I worry about” is almost inherently invalid because in asking it you assume once you've escaped certain financial stresses, they must be replaced by a different set of stresses. But in my case, that just hasn't happened.

Richard*, 56
Landlord

For me it’s the usual, things like my health or whether or not I locked the door. But I do find myself wondering if people like me. Am I being an asshole when I post pictures of a vacation, or when I talk to friends at gatherings about a recent investment or purchase? I do also worry about the world, and whether it’s all going to shit. The premise that money is the only thing people worry about, and therefore people with money don’t worry about anything, is flawed. Yes, it's a self-centred worry, but a lot of people worry about a much wider community where their own success and comfort are only a small part of life. The more that you remove the causes of someone's self-centred worrying, the more they'll focus on the wider community issues.

Natalia*, 23
Inheritor of a family fortune

I worry about public perception, and whether or not people like me. Because as much as I don’t like talking about wealth, it can come up pretty easily when talking about vacations or hobbies, and I don’t want to make anyone feel bad or uncomfortable. Whether through jealousy or insecurity, I think my wealth can make people hate me, or think negatively or less about me (and sometimes even physically queasy). Some people can’t fathom spending several thousand dollars on shoes or a bag, but for me, it’s just normal.

Alan, 68
Retired investment banker

I’ve finished working, I’ve retired, I’m free and essentially have unlimited funds – so why aren’t I happy yet? What do you focus on when you have fixed nearly all your main needs? People go back to work all the time because they don’t know what to do with themselves. Having the purpose a job gives you – getting up in the morning, completing a set list of tasks, going home to do it all again the next day – does something to you. Without purpose there is no drive, and you end up floating, lost. You actually have to concentrate on your own happiness. In the absence of work, you have to fill that void yourself. I also worry about becoming unrelatable to friends or new people. The problems you face when you fix money are so different that you become unrelatable to the average person. It’s a different world.

Walter*, 27
Inheritor of an international chain of restaurants

In school I was very shy about having money. I went to private school but still had a disproportionate amount of money compared to my peers. I was always well aware of this, because of my clothes and the cars I got picked up from school in. And people saw those. So I worried about the friends I had and whether or not they stuck around because they liked me or because they liked that I had money. That hasn’t ever really left me. Sometimes I wonder if my girlfriend, who I’ve been with for years now, loves me or just the lifestyle that we have. I never feel sure of the people in my life, and I do spend a large amount of the day thinking about it.

Giles*, 48
Investment banker

I worry about my daughters and their future. I don’t spend that much time with them or my wife because I’m working, and I love my job, and obviously having money. I worry about them resenting me, and I worry about my wife having an affair, despite the money and the comforts that we’re able to have as a family because of my salary. I worry about global warming a lot, too, because no amount of money I have can fix that, and I worry about what that means for my daughters. Having money makes life easier, but it brings all of the other, bigger things like family, health and current events into sharper focus.

@nicolegarciamer

Tagged:
wealth
rich people
wealth inequality
generational wealth