'Keeping up with the Beckhams' means millionaires have no fun

Sarah Coles
Review of the Year 2014
Review of the Year 2014

Being a millionaire will not make you happy. A new report has found that in fact having a million in the bank will just make you feel jealous of those with more, guilty about spoiling your family, and terrified that you could lose it all at any time. Millionaires don't feel able to relax and enjoy their wealth, because they feel stuck on a treadmill and forced to make even more money.

A new study from UBS interviewed more than 2,000 millionaires in the US and found that 62% of them had wanted to be millionaires from an early age. Some 77% of them had started out as middle class or working class, and had spent their lives striving towards the goal.

However, when they made their million, it fell a long way short in making them happy. Many of them had made sacrifices to get to this level of wealth. Some 68% have regrets about the choices they have made - often to do with their spouse or family.


One of the problems is that the wealthier people get, the more their expectations grow for their standard of living, and the more money they need in order to maintain this standard. Some 58% of people in this survey agreed that they had fallen into this trap. As a result, 52% of them feel they are stuck on a treadmill, trying to keep up their income, and worried that if they stop, they will be sacrificing their family's lifestyle.
At the same time, they worry that their level of wealth is spoiling their children. Two thirds of them already think their children take things for granted, 65% say their children don't understand the value of money, and more than half think their children feel entitled to their wealth. More than half of them think this will have an impact on their family's life choices: and that 54% of children lack motivation, 54% have unrealistic expectations, and 50% are likely to take an unstable career path.

They also become terrified of losing it all. Half of those with between $1 million and $5 million are concerned that one major setback - like losing their job or a stock market crash - would take it all away from them. For millionaire parents, the number living in a state of anxiety rises to 63%.

Keeping up

Even if they don't suffer any kind of catastrophic loss, they won't enjoy their wealth, because they are too busy trying to 'Keep up with the Beckhams'. This is particularly true of younger millionaires, 48% of whom feel pressure to keep pace with their peers, and 68% of whom worry about how much money they have compared to their friends and family.

Younger millionaires are also likely to put pressure on themselves to make more money. While older generations said they would feel wealthy once they had $5 million, Millennial millionaires needed $10 million to feel rich.

It's enough to make you think twice about hankering after your first million, and the luxuries you always assumed came with it. But what do you think? Do you still want to be a millionaire?

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