Being rich is better than not being rich, but it's not nearly as good as you imagine it is.
Money, money, money. The more the better, they say.
But is there ever enough to go around, even for those rolling in it? Is there a way to earn more of it, without going to school forever?
BBC Capital rounds up our best Quora columns of 2014 with responses from the question-and-answer site on the downsides of being rich, the upsides of debt, and the jobs that pay a lot more than you might think.
The downsides of being rich
Many of us dream of becoming wealthy but is getting rich worth it?
“Being rich is better than not being rich, but it's not nearly as good as you imagine it is,” said the anonymous respondent, who reported having $15m after selling a tech start up. “First, one of the only real things being rich gives you is that you don't have to worry about money as much anymore. There will still be some expenses that you cannot afford (and you will wish you could), but most expenses can be made without thinking about what it costs. This is definitely better, without a doubt.”
The downsides of being rich can outweigh the benefits. “The first thing you are thinking reading that, is, ‘cry me a river.’ You are not allowed to complain about anything, ever,” when you’re wealthy, wrote one anonymous respondent. “Since most people imagine being rich as nirvana, you are no longer allowed to have any human needs or frustrations in the public eye. Yet, you are still a human being, but most people don't treat you like one.”
Other downsides stretch to new parameters with friends and family. “Most people now want something out of you, and it can be harder to figure out whether someone is being nice to you because they like you, or they are being nice to you because of your money,” the anonymous respondent continued. “If you aren't married yet, good luck trying to figure out (and/or always having self-doubt) about whether a partner is into you or your money.”
The upside of debt
We’ve all bitten off more debt than we can swallow: borrowing to go to school, borrowing to buy a house, borrowing to pay for holiday gifts. In many ways, debt is all about convenience and the ease of credit cards makes it all the more so.
But what happens if we always struggle to pay the bill at end of the month? Is it really a worthy goal to be debt free?
For some people running a deficit is worth it, particularly if your return on the money is greater than your cost, Gil Eyal said. “Simply put, if you could borrow at a 2% rate and be guaranteed to make 5%, you should strive to be in as much debt as possible,” he said. “This actually isn't that far-fetched. If you are a great real estate investor for example, you would always try to finance part of your deals with low cost debt, knowing you are making money on other people’s dime and spreading your own over more deals.”
In some cases, debt should be embraced as a way to create an awesome life, according to Jeremy Karmel. “For many people debt is an extremely useful tool for achieving that goal.”
Karmel cites the cost of education as one place where debt is justifiable. “If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer and you don't come from an extremely wealthy family, good luck trying to do those things without borrowing money for school.
That job pays how much?
Whether too rich or too debt ridden, many of us strive to have a job that pays well. The good news is that you don’t need to be a doctor or lawyer to earn big bucks. There are plenty of jobs most people assume don’t make a lot of money but, in reality, pay very well.
Opera singer David Leigh says one of the best paid jobs is that of a theatrical carpenter in New York City. “The lowest-earning carpenters at Carnegie Hall made $300,000 in 2009, and the props master made over $400,000,” Leigh wrote. “At the Metropolitan Opera, the master carpenter earns over $500,000 a year, which is about 20% more than his boss earns.”
Other well paid jobs often fill a service niche and offer peace of mind. A good dog walker, for instance, can make a mint, according to Aaron Boodman. “Our dog walker charges $25/session,” Boodman wrote. “He takes up to eight dogs walking at a time (soon to be the legal limit in my city), twice a day. That's $96k per year, much of it in cash. Once he's picked up and dropped off all the dogs, each run to the dog park takes about three hours round trip. So his workday is about six hours.”
Quora respondents are required to use their true names under the site’s Real Names policy. To help ensure legitimacy and quality, Quora asks some individuals, such as doctors and lawyers, to confirm their expertise.