Cheapskate Wisdom … About the Downside of Having Too Much Money

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“Money is like fire: it will warm your feet or it will burn your socks off.”

This insight comes from Paul G. Schervish, a sociology professor at Boston College and the director of the college’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. Schervish studies the lives and philanthropic habits of the super-wealthy, and many of his surprising findings are summed up in a fascinating new story in the Atlantic.

The main takeaway is that too much money can lead to stress, isolation, distrust, and, because when you’re rich there’s not much reason to work, feelings of uselessness.

Robert A. Kenny, a developmental psychologist who also works with the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, told the Atlantic that the richest folks out there stress about money as much as anyone else—perhaps more so because they simply have more money to stress over:

“Sometimes I think that the only people in this country who worry more about money than the poor are the very wealthy,” Kenny says. “They worry about losing it, they worry about how it’s invested, they worry about the effect it’s going to have. And as the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger.”

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