It is not easy to be rich, but being rich can be boring. As WSJ columnist Robert Frank commented in his recent post "Wealth Fatigue Syndrome":
"For the super-rich, houses, yachts, cars and planes are like new toys that they play with for five minutes and then lose interest in," a psychoanalyst named Manfred Kets de Vries says in the article. "Pretty soon, to attain the same buzz they have to spend more money. All the spending is a mad attempt to cover up boredom and depression."
He adds that when someone has and spends so much money, "Feeling any sort of excitement means taking more and more risks, financially and physically."
Money, in other words, is like a drug; the more you have, the more you need to get a buzz. When a first-class plane ticket no longer satisfies, today’s wealthy board private jets. When that feels common, they buy a private jumbo jet. And so on.
Without being "super-rich" and without being able to afford yachts and planes, I can still partially relate to this. Several household examples:
1) Every couple of months, we find our wardrobes are too small to store our clothing.
2) We regularly try to find new spaces for our son's toys.
3) We eat out a lot more, and at finer restaurants. When we eat at home, we have our in-house maid/chef cook all the time.
4) Earlier in the summer, We moved to a new apartment that is 50% larger than our old place.
5) After I flied business class in my business trips, it becomes psychologically challenging to squeeze myself and family to economy class seats in our self-paid trips.
6) And we travel more -- the upcoming Christmas trip will be our fourth overseas family trip for the year.
Four years ago in 2003, in my first year of blogging, I estimated that our family can make ends meet with $45,000 a year forever (adjusted for inflation). Four years later in 2007, we are likely to finish the year with an annual spending of $90,000.
On the other hand, from time to time, my wife and I still feel we have the frugality inside of us. While we doubled our spending between 2003 and 2007, we almost tripled our income in the same timeframe. All in all, while in 2003 we spent 35% of our income, we are only spending less than 25% this year.
Certainly, we can easily save a grand or two by cutting some corners here or there, but we live our lives not only for a number we can boast. My wife and I now feel it is morally okay that we will spend more and enjoy life more if our income grows in the future. There is no need to contain our spending under a specific absolute dollar number, as long as we will contain to save more on every dollar earned.