Poor, sad, rich folk. No, not an oxymoron. A Royal Bank of Canada commissioned study found that less than half (49 per cent) of Canada’s millionaires feel they have grown happier as they have accumulated more wealth.

The bank attributes this sorry state of affairs to the fact that having more money creates more complexity and more problems in one’s life. The worries include managing investments, planning for retirement and succession planning.

Frankly, I doubt this reasoning. I’m sorry, but I think there’s a lot more stress associated with living paycheque to paycheque, as 60 per cent of Canadian report of themselves. And what about having to go into debt to get braces for your kids, never mind education down the road or, gasp, retirement?


I’m not saying that people with money don’t have problems, they do. But I think there’s a different issue at work.

Many people are successful at setting a goal — say a net worth of $1 million — and then striving mightily to reach it. But when they’ve arrived, it doesn’t seem adequate so they move the goal posts to, say, $2 million.

This moving of the goal post is what creates unhappiness, because there’s never the satisfaction of completing a job, only the continuing pursuit. Some thrive in the pursuit but most don’t.

One solution is to couple a financial goal with a specific reason. The question then is, Why Do You Want a Thousand, Ten Thousand or a Million Dollars? If you don’t have an answer you probably won’t be satisfied when you reach that magic number.

On the other hand, if your target is a cottage, your own business, early retirement, a second shot at education or perhaps the ability to help a disabled family member, then you’re more likely to be satisfied in the end