Most people like the idea of getting rich which is why so many buy into to get-rich-quick schemes. While having more money can ease financial stress and give some level of freedom, it can also come with a lot of potential downfalls when it comes to you fast. Every person and situation is different, but there are some common problems associated with getting rich too quickly.
One of the first potential problems that comes up when people get rich in a short period of time is that it can change them pretty significantly. When you make money quickly, you don’t have much time to settle into a new lifestyle; you’re just thrown into it. It can go to your head and you start indulging in lavish habits and developing expensive taste. That isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but if your attitude changes with your lifestyle you might start to behave in a way that comes off as snobby or pretentious to the people around you.
And that’s significant; among the challenges that a sudden increase in money brings, the strain in relationships is said to be one of the hardest. Your changed persona can contribute to this, but even without any change in you, the new financial situation can make you feel isolated from friends and family. Being able to afford a different kind of lifestyle often leaves your loved ones behind because they don’t have the money to take part in the same activities. You might think that including them in your new adventures can sidestep the problem but they can then feel awkward about the costs you’re covering for them. Or, the problem might be as simple as them seeing you differently and then acting differently around you. Markus Persson, founder of Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, sold his business for $2.5 billion. He later tweeted, “Hanging out in Ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I’ve never felt more isolated.” Even with his friends and surrounded by people, the sense of isolation persisted. Gaining wealth quickly is likely to wreak havoc on relationship whereas becoming wealthy over a longer period of time allows you and those around you to adjust to the change more smoothly.
Envy is another issue that can get in the way of your relationships. Money is something that most people want more of, even if they have enough to afford everything they need. When you suddenly have a lot and they don’t, your friends and family can become jealous of what you have and even bitter about the fact that you have it. Their feelings will start to form a rift between you and, because it’s based in their own feelings and not in something you did to them, there’s little you can do to resolve to problem. It’s something that they have to work through, and you can only hope that they’ll be able to accept that you’ve become wealthy and move past it. It’s another instance where a slow increase is better since it gives everyone a chance to adjust to change over time. You aren’t responsible for how other people feel, but you are affected when they don’t react well to your newfound wealth.
You won’t only notice a change in your relationships because of how other people feel about you, though; you’ll feel differently about some of the people around you, too. We’ve established that money changes people, and it can change your friends or family. You might find that some of the people you care about start to ask for favours, investments, or loans. This can cause you to feel uncertain about your relationships, especially new ones—do they like you for you, or do they just want your money? Experiencing this kind of behaviour in just one friend can spark paranoia about other friendships too. When you accumulate money over time, it doesn’t seem as dramatic an increase in wealth and people are less likely to see your financial gains as an opportunity for themselves. When it comes all at once, they see you as having enough of an abundance that you could spare some, and some people might be bold enough to ask you to share.
Your relationships with people aren’t the only ones that can go through changes; how you relate to money and your belongings will change too. Starting with a modest income and accumulating wealth gradually creates a scenario where you recognize its value clearly because your money has to be managed wisely for it to grow. Coming into a lot of money in a short time, you can feel like you have plenty to spend and you’re likely to splurge. You feel that you can buy expensive things whenever you want and the value of those things is diminished because you haven’t had to wait or save up for them; you can easily get what you want when you want it. You become less appreciative of the things you have and that car you dreamed of or the house you’ve always wanted doesn’t feel as exciting or significant as it would have if you had to wait and save to get them.
When the things you’ve always dreamed of become easy to attain, it’s common to feel that you’ve lost a sense of purpose. In the past, if you set a goal that required money to pay for—whether it was to take a trip, start a new hobby, or some other big purchase—it became motivation for you to work toward. Even if you were steadily becoming richer, you’d have to save until you were in a place where you could spend the money on what you wanted and still have money in the bank. If you suddenly become rich and can buy whatever you want as soon as you want it, you might find yourself with fewer things you have to spend time working towards. Have you ever played the Sims and used a cheat-code to start the game with a ton of simoleons? You probably jumped right into building a big house with all of the most expensive items, then played for a little while and got bored because you already had everything. It’s a lot like that. You can set goals that aren’t dependent on money, but most material desires that acted as motivation in the past disappear because you can fulfill them right away. It can make you feel like there’s a lack of purpose in your life, like there’s little left to work toward.
With all this considered, it’s understandable that there can be mental health ramifications with getting rich too quickly. You can lose balance and fall into depression, feel guilt for having more than you need when others are in poverty, or develop anxiety over not knowing who to trust or how to hold onto your money. Any significant change in a short period of time can throw an individual into mental instability, and that includes becoming rich, even if it initially seems like a great thing.
Thankfully, if these things happen they don’t have to last. The effects of becoming rich quickly have been carefully examined by psychologists and one expert, Dr. Stephen Goldbart, coined the term “Sudden Wealth Syndrome” to describe the phases that people typically experience. The first is the honeymoon phase where the individual feels powerful and is prone to spending sprees. The second is wealth acceptance where they still feel powerful but also realize that they’re vulnerable and need to set limits. It’s in these two phases where a lot of the relationship chaos and personal imbalance are felt. But then they move into phase three, identity consolidation. The individual realizes that being rich isn’t what defines them and they start to think about who they want to be and what they want to do in life. In the final stage, stewardship, they’ve settled into their wealth in a mature way and start planning what they want to do with their money. As they move through the latter phases and they become comfortable with their finances, their relationships have a chance to stabilize and they feel more comfortable with the idea of having it. They learn to be responsible and live a life that isn’t entirely defined by the money they’ve gained.
Not everything is what it seems. Typically, when we think of suddenly getting rich, it’s something exciting, freeing, and ultimately a really good thing. It definitely has its perks, but becoming wealthy too quickly can really create chaos in your life, leaving you with fewer friends and in emotional turmoil. Not to mention less money than you started with—just ask any one of the 70% of lottery winners who’ve gone broke. It’s better to grow your wealth over time, to start small and accumulate your riches at a steady pace. It gives you more time to adjust to having money and the chance to really appreciate what you have.