When I read the New York Times piece about the poor multi-millionaires lamenting their poverty — while living in million-dollar homes and making hundreds of times more than the average person — I had many of the same thoughts as my friends Mark Evans, Jason at Webomatica and Jeremy Toeman at Live Digitally. In other words, a combination of disbelief, irritation and more than a whiff of outright disgust.

At the same time though, one of the things that the piece brought home to me was that beyond a certain point — in most cases, once people get past having to work to literally put food on the table or a roof over their family’s heads — money doesn’t really matter in the same sense any more.

I’ve seen it happen to stockbrokers and bond traders and men who have made millions in the oil patch: many of them would continue to work just as hard if they were being paid in poker chips or jelly beans, provided everyone else in their social circle was also being paid in poker chips or jelly beans.

At that point, what matters is who you see as your peers, why you are doing what you’re doing, and what you see as important in life. And in many cases, the drive that makes people work so hard can’t just be turned off with the flick of a switch once they make a certain amount of money. In many ways, the money is irrelevant. I wish I knew what that felt like :-)

About the author

Mathew 2430 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

3 Responses to “Money = a way of keeping score”
  1. How very true. Money is about #10 down on my list of happiness must haves.

  2. It seems the most unappealing aspect of these wealthy folks’ lives is how hard they are forcing themselves to work (12 hours a day). No wonder they’re unhappy.

    Personally I like having more free time to enjoy the fruits of my relatively spartan labor. When else would I have time to blog?

  3. I totally agree. As a poker player we have a bankroll of money set aside to play with that never gets spent. Its just a way of keeping score so that other people play properly.

    If you try playing poker with play money or monopoly money other people don’t take it seriously and make rash decisions.

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