Feature

The super-rich are just as miserable as the rest of us

Almost a quarter said they worry "constantly" — constantly — about their financial situation

Let's agree right off the bat that $25 million is a lot of money. Sure, to paraphrase Chris Rock (NSFW), if Bill Gates woke up tomorrow with a net worth of $25 million, he'd jump out a window. But to the vast majority of us, it's a huge sum, more than enough to make some dreams come true. If money can't buy happiness, $25 million should at least be enough for a down payment on contentment — and to generate some envy on the part of us without eight figures in assets.

Well, get ready to get jealous, if only for a moment. The number of American households with a net worth of $25 million or more — excluding their home — reached a new record last year, according to a recent report by wealth management research provider Spectrem Group.

Yet the same survey found that those wealthy Americans still have plenty of financial concerns. Actually, they sound fairly miserable… and that's in a survey taken well before the stock market took a recent tumble. They may travel more, go to ballgames or concerts, or buy nice jewelry, but 70 percent of those surveyed said they get more satisfaction out of saving and investing their money than from spending it. More than half said they worry about the next generation wasting the money they inherit. And almost a quarter (23 percent) said they worry "constantly" — constantly — about their financial situation.

Many others worry less about their own financial situation than about the legacy they'll leave their children and grandchildren, including making sure that the kids develop a respectable work ethic.

Maybe that's all reflective of who these people are, or aren't. By and large, the wealthy Americans surveyed by Spectrem aren't lounging around in their mansions counting their cash. Their average age is 58, and nearly 60 percent are still working, and another 20 percent are only semi-retired. Roughly nine out of 10 wealthy households attribute their success to hard work, and about eight in 10 credit education, while just over half credit "luck" or "being in the right place at the right time." Most are entrepreneurs and business owners (22 percent), professionals (22 percent) or corporate executives (15 percent).

"Additionally," Spectrem said in its press release, "the wealthiest of these 'one percenters' now consist of working households with two income wage earners under age 55, nearly three-quarters of whom work more than 40 hours per week." Plus, those still working likely plan on continuing to work as long as they can.

So maybe, just maybe, being wealthy isn't all it's cracked up to be. Often enough, it apparently still means long hours and more than a few financial headaches. Then again, having $25 million in assets sure could make our current long hours and financial headaches that much easier to bear.

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