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What Rich People Worry About

Tom Sightings
What Rich People Worry About

You might think that people with a lot of money would be immune from the everyday worries that gnaw at regular, middle class people. And to some extent you would be right. But they worry more than you think -- often about the same things that keep us up at night, and sometimes about other issues that don't even make it onto our radar. Here are eight money worries of the top 10 percent:

Having enough money for retirement. A recent survey by Lincoln Financial Group showed that 53 percent of the people they surveyed worry about having enough money for retirement. So, what about the well-off retirees who have over $1 million saved up for their golden years? Still, 48 percent of millionaires admit they worry about having enough money to live out their years in comfort. Apparently, having more does not relieve you of the anxiety about having enough.

Worries about health. You'd think that millionaires, with all their access to doctors, specialists and top hospitals, would worry less about their health. But they don't -- or at least not by much. According to the same survey, 54 percent of millionaires worry about their health in retirement, compared to 57 percent of all those surveyed.

Being sued. According to a series of surveys by Prince & Associates, fewer than 20 percent of people worth less than $1 million worry about being sued. But over 80 percent of people worth $20 million or more worry about being the target of a lawsuit. Perhaps they know that lawyers prowl where the money is.

Identity theft. A little less than half of middle class people express concern about identity theft. But three quarters of wealthy people lose sleep over the issue, probably for the same reason they worry about getting sued. Thieves want the identities of people with good credit, not those who have already maxed out their credit cards.

Protecting assets. Wealthy people may not have to worry about their monthly electric bill, or even the cost of college tuition. But they typically have a sense of responsibility about their money, and they spend time and energy to take care of it. They worry about the Federal Reserve, foreign currencies, interest rates, stock prices and real estate. Even if they hire someone else to manage their day-to-day affairs, they still worry about overseeing their portfolio and making sure the people they deal with have their best interests at heart.

Business responsibilities. We all worry about getting laid off. These days, the CEO can get fired just as easily as we can. Business leaders also worry about the impact of their decisions. It's bad enough if you get laid off, but how would you like to be responsible for hundreds of other people losing their jobs? Then there's reputation risk. If we mess up a job, it's usually a private matter. But top figures in business, politics or sports all fail in public, with their shortcomings analyzed and sometimes ridiculed by critics from coast to coast.

Worries about kids. Wealthy people know that many a fortune has been squandered by a playboy son or jet-setting daughter. They also know that the prospect of a large inheritance can undermine the ambition, and the dreams, of a child of fortune. Why take on the nasty realities of schoolwork and a job when you have access to a trust fund? Wealthy people, especially those who have made their own fortune, know the answer even if their kids do not: In work there is self-confidence, self-worth and a sense of accomplishment that no amount of money by itself can provide.

Keeping up with the Joneses. Finally, we live in a competitive society, whether we like it or not. The brand name of your college, the zip code where you live, the car in your driveway and the place where you vacation all say something about your status in life. The wealthy tend to be more competitive than the rest of us, and so these things mean even more to them than they do to us. Keeping up with the Joneses -- or the Buffets and the Gates -- takes on a meaning that produces even more anxiety for them than it does for the rest of us.

Of course, it's hard to summon up too much sympathy for the rich. Most of us would love to have their problems. But just because you're wealthy doesn't always mean you live on Easy Street.

Tom Sightings is a former publishing executive who was eased into early retirement in his mid-50s. He lives in the New York area and blogs at Sightings at 60, where he covers health, finance, retirement and other concerns of baby boomers who realize that somehow they have grown up.

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