Why Some Millionaires Are Extremely Unhappy

April 19, 2023

Is it true that most millionaires are unhappy and unfulfilled? In this highlight, Bo and Brian go over the data behind this topic and discuss if this is true or not.

For more information, check out the full episode called “The Dark Side of Being an American Millionaire! (2023 Edition).


So, we’re talking about the dark side of a millionaire. We’re talking about what causes people to not do wealth well. We’ve already said one of those things is that they hate their jobs. We’ve already said another thing is just not being good with money, not being a solid financial decision-maker. This next one, and this is something we’ve seen again manifest in millionaires that are unhappy, that are unfulfilled, that money did not solve the problem they thought it was going to solve, those millionaires are not generous. I was shocked by this one too, I gotta tell you, Daniel. And I don’t come to discussions or debates very often, but this show did kind of – I was like, ‘That’s not true, Daniel. Go check that again.’ And then, sure enough, here’s what I think is interesting. We have the slide, and like I said, I went back with questions on this because Daniel found that Americans making thirty thousand dollars or less, they give 6.6 percent of their income to charity. What I think is crazy is we know that the average savings rate in this country is, like, it’s right four or five percent right now, you know, went as high as seven percent during the pandemic.

So Americans under 30k are giving about the national average savings rate. That’s interesting, right? Like, that’s there’s something there to be noted. Well, the counterpoint to this, because you hear 6.6 and you’re like, ‘Okay, well, people with higher incomes, I’m sure that they’re gonna at least match, and if they don’t match because I could see the argument like, ‘Well, thirty thousand dollars, six percent of that, you know, so these people are given right under two grand.’ I mean, if a person’s making a hundred grand and they’re giving, you know, eight thousand dollars a year, yes, it’s, you know, it’s right at what these people are doing over even six grand. But what we’ve found is that people who have higher incomes actually are only giving point nine percent of their income. So what if you just did the math on this? The people making less than 30 grand are giving right under two thousand dollars. The people making a hundred thousand or more were giving right up less than a thousand. Now, that’s sad. Now, hear us out. I want to be clear because I want to make sure it doesn’t sound like we are saying, ‘Oh, wealthy people are not generous.’ That’s not what we’re suggesting. There are a number of wealthy people out there that are incredibly generous. What we are saying is that not being generous could lead to a decrease in happiness. It could lead to not finding fulfillment. If you’re finding your fulfillment in the dollars that are stacking, perhaps there is more to the equation. Perhaps there is something else that you may ought to be thinking about. We’re gonna talk about a moment. It’s not just money. It’s not just how big of a check am I riding. Well, yeah, I mean, because I am the last person that wants to just beat up on successful people because, I mean, that’s who we work with. That’s who we reside in that camp, and I just I don’t like it. I already feel like there are so many things out there that are anti-success that I don’t want to pile on.

When I see this about generosity, it does frustrate me, especially when, like you just set up, Bo, if you’re generous, where does the saying, ‘It’s better to give than to receive?’ I know that sounds great and something we tell our kids or around the holidays and so forth. But here’s the actual data: there’s a huge study over 200,000 people on the impacts of generosity. What it found out was that people who gave generously showed positive impacts to their happiness, and just a lot of positive benefits to making this a deliberate action. Now, again, I cannot dictate how much money I am giving away or how much of my checks I am giving away. But if you are someone who has a unique skill, knowledge, or talent (and by the way, that’s all of us), there are probably people in your life that could benefit from your generosity. Maybe it’s just talking with a co-worker and showing them how you did something. Maybe it’s talking to a younger person and sharing wisdom with them. Maybe it’s helping an older person. There are ways that you can be generous and pour into the lives of other people. And I think you will be amazed that when you start doing that, when you start recognizing those opportunities, not only will it make you feel better (you’ll actually start appreciating what you have more), you’ll start recognizing that things are pretty good. You won’t feel as dissatisfied or unhappy. You won’t feel as empty. You’ll feel like you’ve got purpose and worth, and there’s a reason why you’re doing the things that you’re doing every day.

Here’s what I think: there is a direct express lane between happiness and generosity (as we already shared, that’s what the research showed). But the reason why, if you’re asking this, if you’re a skeptic, is that I have found the more you receive, if you make this goal of being wealthy all-consuming where you lost yourself, I think if you can be selfless and actually be generous, it actually still lets you be a good steward with the resources, but also know who you are, what makes you tick. You’re just better with money because it lets you tie into your why, your legacy, what makes you work well, and the relationships around you in the world. This is why being generous instead of making it all-consuming, “I’m building so I can have more and more and more,” lets you be purposeful and get outside of the money so you can actually think outside of being selfless. And I think that makes you just a better human, too.

Want to know what to do with your next dollar, you need this free download: the Financial Order of Operations. It’s our nine tried-and-true steps that will help you secure your financial future.



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