When feeling bad is no longer allowed

After receiving considerable criticism for my post, Embrace living paycheck to paycheck to be free one day, I find myself thinking about the existence of a level of net worth that brings equanimity and inner peace and keeps one from feeling anxious. Is there a financial threshold beyond which emotional turmoil becomes unacceptable?

Despite my attempt to turn a difficult financial situation into a source of motivation, critics vehemently argued that certain emotions such as fear, anxiety, and stress should no longer be experienced once a certain net worth is reached.

The dispute arose when some insisted that living paycheck to paycheck should only be attributed to those facing both cash flow and balance sheet issues. Someone truly in such a desperate situation must be working multiple jobs and also must feel a level of despair so deep that prohibitive thoughts begin to enter their mind.

The debate seems to go beyond numbers to include the subtle interplay of emotions and financial well-being.

The threshold of net worth when you can’t feel bad anymore

The primary metric we will use to judge when the negative emotions need to stop is the single variable of net worth.

Annual income will not serve as a determining factor, as critics argue that the income problem itself does not qualify as living paycheck to paycheck, even if that is its purest definition.

Besides, we already know that earning over $500,000 a year brings the highest happiness. Just look at the chart below. 100% of people who earn more than $500,000 are “very happy”! I’m surprised the professors haven’t won a Nobel prize yet.

ideal income for happiness

While only using net worth simplifies the assessment, the challenge lies in navigating the nuanced factors influencing a person’s right to feel concerned about their financial situation.

Although this may seem like an odd exercise because we can’t help how we feel, society arbitrarily determines many things, such as who gets preferential treatment in college admissions or who will be hired for the most desirable jobs.

Let’s start practicing!

Net worth from Negative to $300,000: OK to feel bad all the time

Based on the latest US Consumer Finance Survey, the median household net worth in America in 2022 was approximately $192,000. If your net worth is anywhere from negative to $300,000, it’s reasonable to feel constant feelings of financial distress.

You have the green light to publicly vent all your problems to the world, e.g the drive through line at McDonald’s is ridiculous, let me speak to the manager! With a negative net worth, you get more empathy from people who are willing to listen to your problems and offer advice.

Net worth up to $1.5 million: OK to feel bad most of the time

The Consumer Finance Survey also warns average household net worth in America was $1.06 million in 2022. With a ~50% reserve, it’s acceptable to feel a bit stressed about your finances at times with a net worth of around $1.5M and below.

Since most people are average, nobody hates average or slightly above average people. In fact, there is a great sense of comfort in being part of the majority. As the majority, you can take credit for what the minority came up with because you simply outnumbered them.

Net worth between $1.51-$3 million: Can only feel bad sometimes

Crossing the $1.5 million net worth threshold will get you to mass affluent class in America. With a net worth of over $1.5 million, you outperform over 80% of the population. Empathy on the part of the majority is diminishing, so compassion is acceptable to you only occasionally.

To avoid appearing ungrateful or entitled, you can only have problems once every six months. If you dare to show more than one negative emotion in half a year, you can get on the secret list of authorized complainers.

Net worth over $3 million: If you live in a non-coastal city, you can’t feel bad anymore

Reaching $3 million in net worth is just the beginning the status of a real millionaire due to inflation. At this level of wealth, few people will empathize with your problems. If you live in a non-coastal city, crossing the $3 million mark means you have to to bear challenges in silencebecause your experiences may be difficult for others to relate to.

If you live in a non-coastal city, once your net worth exceeds $3 million, you must experience no pain or suffering. You are expected to manage your matches privately.

Do you have a disloyal wife who provides no emotional support? Divorce her, you can afford it. Do you have to work 60 hours a week under constant stress? You are lucky to make so much money and have so much responsibility. Have your kids been bullied by cool kids? Tell them to suck it up!

If you live in expensive coastal city like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle, you can still feel sick once every six months because the cost of living is so much higher. However, you risk being ostracized by your community.

On your social media channels or when talking to others in public, you must always put on a positive face and share how good things are. Never show any weakness or negative emotions or the piranhas will start biting.

Net worth over $13 million: No more feeling bad

Crossing the $13+ million net worth mark in 2024, a top 1% of net worth, eliminates the right to feel uncomfortable. Regardless of health, marital or family problems, owning more than 99% of the population means being able to solve all problems with money.

Since we live in an ultra-competitive society, no one gives a damn about your plight. They assume that struggles at this level are self-inflicted and the blame rests solely on the individual.

Finns are not allowed to feel sad because Finland is permanently one of them the happiest country in the world. Can you imagine getting upset about paying for a bland Karelian hot pot when it’s just a joy? So how dare you be sad when you are one of the richest people in the world! Shame on you.

Happiest country in the world
Source: World Happiness Report

Limit public sharing of your troubles

If you publicly share that you are doing well, people will tear you down.

If you publicly share that you are struggling, people will call you an idiot or worse.

So if you want to minimize emotional fatigueMost of the things you do and feel should be kept quiet.

If you have a high net worth and want more “credits” to acknowledge the hardships you are experiencing, then share them privatelypreferably with people of the same socio-economic class. Alternatively, you may try to convince people that you have a much lower net worth than you actually do.

Envy is a human condition. If your net worth is higher than someone’s, a certain percentage of people will be you seem greedy. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve worked, how diligently you’ve saved, or how much risk you’ve taken to build your above average net worth; people will not give you credit for your efforts.

There will always be challenges no matter how rich you are

Unfortunately, money won’t solve all your problems. On the contrary, the more money you have, the more problems can arise.

People can come out of the woodwork and start asking you for things. With more money, you can end up buying more things you don’t need, which ends up weighing you down. You can also have more complicated property the more headaches, the richer you will be.

But until you accumulate more wealth, I’m not sure you’ll believe me.

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Questions and suggestions from readers

At what net worth levels should one no longer feel anxious? Put another way, how poor do you have to be to never be judged or criticized for your situation or actions? When do you think you will feel the net worth? What other arbitrary rules can we create to dictate who gets to feel and do what?

If you want to better track your net worth and expenses, take a look Empower, the best free asset management tool available today. I have been using Empower since 2012 to track everything with tremendous benefit.

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