According to an article my wife read, the current recession has even the wealthy starting to worry now. Some of them have taken a big enough hit from the stock market that they're beginning to realize that maybe there's a finite amount of money out there. That maybe they can't have everything. That maybe they'll have to cut back by a yacht or two.
And she's talking about people with millions of dollars.
It's funny. I remember reading about people leaping out of 20th floor windows during the Great Depression because they had been reduced to a "mere" couple of million dollars - in actual cash, and thinking that if you "reduced" me to that much, I'd be a very happy person.
What the heck was going on then, and what the heck is going on now?
These people have absolutely no clue. You know what would make me rich? $200,000 a year. Doesn't sound like much to you? Well maybe that's because my goals are more modest.
You see, to me, being rich isn't about moving out of our cozy little house in a nice city neighborhood and being able to have the castle on the hill (and be able to heat it). It's not even about being able to buy the McMansion on the other side of the county. Those aren't my style. For me, being rich would mean that I could have our soggy basement fixed right now and put a guest room (and another full bathroom) in it without having to take out another home equity loan. Heck, it would enable us to pay off the home equity loan we took out two years ago to have energy-efficient windows installed.
It wouldn't be about having the Mercedes, the Lexus, the BMW, or some other fancy, expensive car. Instead, it would mean that we'd actually be able to pick out the color and features of the next minivan we bought - new, rather than picking a used one up off the lot in whatever colors they happened to have. And if the color we wanted wasn't offered, having that much money would mean that we could have a custom paint job done.
It would mean that when we traveled, we could stay at a Holiday Inn Express instead of a Red Roof Inn or a Motel 6, and that we could stay in the city we were actually visiting, rather than on the outskirts of town, where it was cheaper. Although we'd still stay at the Reeves Motel and the Traveler's Haven Motel when we visited Cape May and Ottawa. Those two tiny little motels seem like home to us now.
Then there are the college funds for my two kids. With $200,000 a year, they could pretty much go anywhere they wanted.
And of course there's giving some of it, maybe even a lot of it, away. There are a lot of causes that mean a lot to me, and it's a no-brainer that I could give more to them if I had more money.
But the important thing is that I wouldn't think for a moment that I had access to an infinite amount of money. I'd just have access to a larger finite amount.
And within that larger finite amount I could live very comfortably.