A Lot of Money

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by Ryan

I hear the phrase “a lot of money” well… a lot… but what is a lot of money? Recently I asked what you’d do with an extra $20,000 and to some that was “A lot” of money, but to others it was not a lot of money at all. What gives?

Bringing this topic up reminds me of how different perspectives are in the world of finance primarily due to the external environment one lives in and the benchmarks they have in their mind because of their previous experiences. If you’re being raised by billionaire parents who live a highly extravagant lifestyle I actually feel sorry for you because your previous experience will make your “a lot of money” a lot more than my “a lot of money” and therefore you’ll probably have to work “a lot” harder if you want to achieve that status that’s created in your own mind. However, you do have the benefit of the knowledge handed to you by billionaires which may help at tad as well.

A lot of money in London is a lot more than a lot of money in Houston which is a lot more money than Des Moines Iowa, which is a lot more money than in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which is a lot more money than in Thailand, which is a lot more money than in Rwanda. Therefore, if you want to feel like you have a lot of money, why not just move to somewhere with a lot lower cost of living and live like a king?

Does Your Perspective of A lot of money change how much you make?

If you think that $100,000 is a lot of money that may limit your goals and how hard you work to achieve a lot of money (if money is the goal). However if you think $1 million is peanuts do you think that will change your actions so that you’ll more easily reach the million dollar goal since you perceive it to be less challenging and more realistic. This scenario reminds me of dating and women. If a guy thinks that he can never get the hottest girl in the room because he’s not good enough then frankly, he’ll never get the hottest girl in the room because he doesn’t even try. Perhaps the same thought process works with finances and if one thinks they’re inferior to say, $1 million in net worth, how are they going to ever achieve it?

I Don’t Have a Lot, But I Don’t Have Not a Lot (got it?)

Considering popular perspective values the idea that you never have enough and the ideology that more is better I’m guessing most people in the world think they don’t have a lot of money. Where I work If you make $250 in a night my coworkers will say that’s a lot of money or rather that’s “good money,” but at other careers/jobs making $250 in a day is something to be laughed at (why is money laughable at all?). I don’t have a lot compared to the environment I’m in which is Honolulu, but if I drive up to Waianae where there are tent cities along the beach, I’d say I have more than enough.

I wrote a post a while back titled the richest poor person you’ll ever meet in which I outlined how even a person without much wealth still lives a life of wealth, especially in America. Just because you’re not buying things and stuff doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot. You simply don’t have a lot of things and stuff, which after all aren’t fulfilling and are often trashed anyways.

It’s all relative

The reason a lot of money can’t be defined is because we all lead different lives and have different benchmarks for success and ultimately how much money is a lot to each of us.

Perhaps a lot of money is simply whatever makes you considerably richer than everyone else in your current fishbowl. Therefore you can either become a bigger fish, move to a smaller fishbowl, or change your fish perspective. I chose the latter.

How much is a lot of money to you?

Do you ever think you’ll come to a point where you consider yourself to have a lot of money?

Are you able to avoid comparing with others so that you don’t consider whether “a lot” even matters?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil July 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Hi

I think that what you view as a lot of money is definitely detrrmined by how much money the people that you know have. At the moment I’m working with people from India that are delighted to have a salary of approx. $4,500pa. This is a bit less that my monthly salary but they are probably happier with their lot than I am! It is also of course related to the cost of living wherever you are. In India this is very low, in the UK it is very high.
.-= Neil´s last blog ..Solve Your Debt Problem – Talk About It =-.

Andrea July 1, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Ryan,
A lot of money to me is when I don’t have to worry about paying the bills. I can be financially free to do whatever I want without worrying how much this or that cost. One of these days I’ll get to the point where I’ll have enough money not to worry. At least I have a roof over my head and food on my table. I live in Washington DC, and right down the street from the White House you see people who are homeless… although I could use an extra $20,000, or even a million; I don’t need it as bad as someone living on the streets.

Ironically my favorite song of the moment is by Travie McCoy called “Billionaire” lol
.-= Andrea´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

Mark Bell July 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I think how you define “a lot” of money really depends upon your lifestyle. To me, a lot of money will open up new doors and experiences, because I’d have the money to spend out. But then, when you have the money to do this, and your lifestyle changes, the goal posts on what “a lot” of money is change again. I don’t think it’s possible to quantify across the board what “a lot” of money is.
.-= Mark Bell´s last blog ..Lecturing to Undergraduates Effectively =-.

Darren July 1, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Being a competitive person, I don’t know if I’ll ever think I have “a lot” of money. I may be okay and content for a moment, but I’d also still think about improving and getting better.

If I were totally satisfied and content, I think I’d be bored out of my mind.
.-= Darren´s last blog ..529 Plans – A Powerful College Savings Tool And More =-.

Roman Soluk July 2, 2010 at 2:12 am

For me a lot of money is achieving financial freedom. It’s when I do not depend on money. And, YES, I think I will come to this point in future.

Thanks a lot, Ryan, for the nice post!
.-= Roman Soluk´s last blog ..Exclusive interview with D Devonshire- a former VP at Motorola Inc =-.

MakingAMillionDollars July 2, 2010 at 4:47 am

I think the key is just living within our means. Making sure your expenses are much less than what you bring in and having some type of regular cash flow besides your normal job. Today there are many opportunities to setup a passive income that helps you have regular income streams on top of your regular job. Once you attain this you will truly be more secure.
.-= MakingAMillionDollars´s last blog ..Passive Income Ideas – How to Make Money When You Sleep =-.

Aury (Thunderdrake) July 2, 2010 at 9:56 am

It would seem that perspective has a pretty darned big impact.

I’ve grown up dirt poor all my life, and even the smallest amounts mean the most to me. I guess growing up in that environment of scarcity and poor education has done a lot on me, and coming to terms with financial markets as a whole made me realize how every dollar counts. And I don’t mean just saving. I mean investing and understanding the trends in the marketplace as well.
.-= Aury (Thunderdrake)´s last blog ..Movie Review- Prince of Persia- Sands of Time =-.

Early Retirement Extreme July 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I would expect “a lot of money” to be relative to either your income or your asset base e.g. 50% more than you earn/have. I am wondering whether the amount tapers off, that is, if you have everything you need and want which money can buy, would a lot of money still be a lot of money even if it is no longer motivating?
.-= Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog ..The 1500 bicycle =-.

finallygettingtoeven.com July 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

hm…a lot of money? At first thought I would say multi-millions is a lot of money. But in reality is it? Isn’t a lot of money just relative to the individual person really. If you have enough to live the life you wish to live with a little left over at the end of the day, don’t you have a lot of money then?

Is watching 7 figures growing on a monthly statement really what makes one rich?
I have known people that have nothing to very little that are some of the happiest people I have ever met. Likewise, I have known extremely wealthy people that would trade everything for love, peace and contentment as they cannot seem to find it.

I don’t truly believe rich should be defined by a monetary value. In my younger years I fell into the trap “he who has the most, wins”…how very wrong I was. As long as I have ‘enough’ — enough happiness, peace, contentment and food on the table I feel very rich indeed.

Financial Samurai July 2, 2010 at 9:20 pm

A lot of money is 8 figures and up i.e. $10,000,000 and higher in my mind. I believe $1-9 million is achievable for a lot of people in their lifetimes.. $10mil+ is hard.
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Katana- Switching Gears For The Summer =-.

Ary July 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Hey Ryan,

Like Financial Samurai said a lot of money means 8 figures and up, at least to me and I believe to others too. But I don’t tend to think too much about it? Isn’t that losing time? Well if you are using the idea, not.
So even though i agreed with Financial Samurai, I think that I’ll realize that I have a lot of money, when I have bought everything I wanted, have traveled in many different locations without having any financial trouble. So basically, when ”Life get boring” like a rich family once said.
.-= Ary´s last blog ..Money- Like a cake =-.

James July 6, 2010 at 10:31 am

$500,000 to me is a lot of money… the reason being is at that point i would be able to buy a house and start a family.

once i have a house and a family then a couple of million would be a lot of money.

you are totally right thought as it is all relative to what you do, how you live and how you compare your funds to others…

Denise July 20, 2010 at 9:58 am

I used to think that $1 million dollars was a lot. I’m not sure if I feel that way now. And I’ve never seen that much in my life.

carloan calculator July 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm

The understanding of the value of money derives the worth of lot of money. It is definitely different as it is based on the perspective and financial capabilities of a person and his established value for money.

Edward - Entry Level Dilemma August 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Besides the fact that what “a lot of money” is relative to the person experiencing it (our roommate has a goal of net worth $5M+ by age 35, whereas mine is more like a net worth of 0 by that time, and my wife’s ambition is to own a new Camry), it’s also relative on the situation. Is a salary of $20000 a lot of money? Not in this country; it’s just over the poverty line. Is a lump sum of $20000 a lot of money? Well, I think you would have to be on the Forbes list to even think about turning it down.
.-= Edward – Entry Level Dilemma´s last blog ..Finding Opportunities- revisited =-.

Get Happy Life November 24, 2010 at 7:33 am

I consider “a lot of money” from $100.000 onwards.

I try to suppress the “comparison” switch in me – people always are concerned about their relative environment. We all care how much do we earn compared to our friends, but don’t care a bit that Bill Gates earns millions. Therefore I consciously try to suppress that side in me and not compare myself with my friends.
.-= Get Happy Life´s last blog ..Helping Your Relatives – With Money or Not =-.

Debt Expert March 8, 2011 at 1:06 am

In my opinion, money stresses me out. I suppose the more you have the better your off, right?

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