Are You Afraid to Be Rich?

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afraid to be rich

Are you afraid to be rich? That might seem like a silly question. Who doesn’t dream about winning the lottery or making that “hit it big” invention (remember the Snuggie)? Most of us would love to be in a financial situation where money worries were a thing of the past.

If that’s the case, why do so many people fail to reach financial independence, even though it’s something they want deep down inside? That question came to the forefront of my mind last week and I spent some time wondering why so few of us seem to achieve the financial independence we want. Perhaps fear plays a role. Let me explain.

Afraid to be Rich?


It started pretty innocently: Mid-December or so, we took a good hard look at our debt payoff journey, which started two years ago last month. Since we now track every expense and have an up-to-date balance sheet of all that we owe, we were able to get a clear picture of how far we’ve come in the last two years in a five-minute span of time.

Studying the financial sheets, we realized that we were not moving as quickly toward debt freedom as we want to. Thus, we made a commitment to take our debt freedom goals to the next level and start speeding up our journey to debt freedom.

What has occurred since we made that decision two months ago has been nothing short of amazing.  We’ve put more extra money toward debt in the last two months than we did all of last year combined.

Freelance income is multiplying at an awesome rate.

Rick’s getting overtime again.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, we will not have a paycheck-to-paycheck month in this household in March, even with a propane fill and a side of beef purchase coming up!

Coming from a 65 percent debt-to-income ratio lifestyle, this is nothing short of amazing for us.

When I realized that we’d finally gained some serious momentum regarding our money – momentum that will allow us to knock out some serious debt balances, I got scared. 

Umm, What Did You Say?

What on earth? Why would I be scared of pursuing and reaching financial freedom? Why would I be scared of something I’ve prayed for, begged for and sacrificed for for two solid years? In searching my soul for the answers, I’ve come up with a few reasons why people might be afraid to be rich.

Change is Bad


Sometimes, due to childhood or life circumstances, people can subconsciously view change as a bad thing. Rick and I both had pretty unstable childhoods, and so on some level, change scares us; we long for stability. Other times, people have struggled with money for so many years that it becomes comfortable to be broke.

Not fun, but it’s what you’re used to. Is that the case with you? Have you been broke for so long that living with a surplus of money seems foreign and uncomfortable? If so, take a deep breath and believe that with the right mindset, you can handle more money wisely, perhaps even totally unlike how you managed (or didn’t manage) your money before.

Take little steps to building wealth and attacking debt. Use mind exercises, such as motivational statements, to see yourself as a financially stable person. Start changing the way you view yourself and your financial picture, so that when wealth comes, you’ll be used to viewing yourself as someone who deserves to be financially stable.

Rich People are Jerks


We likely all know, or at least hear about on the daily entertainment news, of some rich snob getting annoyed with the homeless person they have to step over as they’re on the way into Saks to buy the latest and greatest something that they absolutely must have.

The truth, though, is that most wealthy people, the true millionaires, aren’t like that at all.

Read The Millionaire Next Door and you’ll discover that many self-made millionaires are just like you – only with more money.

They live in modest houses, wear big box store clothing and eat at Ruby Tuesdays. In order to combat your fear that money will make you a jerk, start practicing a philanthropist attitude now.

If you don’t have money, give of your time.  Serve food at the local homeless shelter or pack groceries at the local food shelf. Make a pile of stuff you don’t need any longer and give it to the local thrift store or to a needy family. Practice gratitude by focusing on being thankful for all of the things you have that many people in third world nations don’t, such as easy access to clean water, a warm home to live in, a toilet and daily food to eat. By working on your attitude now, you can help ease the fear that becoming wealthy will turn you into an unpleasant person.

I’ll Lose My Relationships with Broke Family/Friends


This one is mostly up to you. How can you avoid losing relationships with broke family and friends, and avoid creating a dividing line of separation when you become one of the rich?

Simple: don’t tell anyone.

Choose not to change your lifestyle too drastically. Work to avoid becoming prideful/judgmental toward your still-broke loved ones. If you want to be rich so that you can live a life of unabashed luxury, you can be sure of two things: you will likely lose relationships with your broke loved ones, and you’ll likely be broke again soon after you reach financial independence.

However, if you want to reach financial freedom so that your money, or lack of it, no longer dictates your choices in life, it’ll be easier to stay humble and keep your financial information to yourself. No one needs to know of your financial situation, either for the better or for the worse. Keep your money situation to yourself, freely giving advice about how living frugally has helped you without saying just how much it has helped you. 🙂

Change can be scary, but it’s not always bad. Stop being afraid to be rich, and instead remind yourself that financial freedom is something that you deserve, then plow on toward those goals.


Do you have specific fears that hinder your road to financial freedom? Do you ever imagine yourself with more money? What does ‘rich’ mean to you?




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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.

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  • I always thought that fear of wealth and prosperity was totally ridiculous until I had an amazing couple of financial months this winter and started freaking out. I actually had anxiety about things being too good to be true.

    I guess even good change is hard to adjust to, but I’ll take it any day over the alternative 🙂 Congrats Laurie!

    • Laurie says:

      So glad to know I’m not the only one! 😉 I think you’re right about good change being hard to adjust to, especially when one is used to being extra thrifty for so long. Glad things are looking up for you income wise too, Stefanie!

  • It’s the same reason over 35% of people who win the lottery are broke in 5 years. You have to psychologically prepare for wealth. If you don’t, everything you learned as a child about the wealth being evil, et all, will come back to rear it’s ugly head and you’ll end self sabotaging your success. Getting your head on straight isn’t a simple task either. It takes time and patience to be successful at seeing money and success differently than what you were taught.

  • I think you captured the top fear being change. It’s difficult for many to move outside their comfort zone. The first few months after becoming debt free we didn’t make any major decision with our surplus, not out of fear, bu just wanted to make sure we were make the right decision going forward.

  • Kathy says:

    My mom ended up pretty rich and I think she was afraid to be in the same class of people she’d always disdained when she was poor. She always felt that rich people must have gotten their money through theft or corruption. Once she realized that most of them work dang hard for their money, her attitude started slowly changing. I don’t feel afraid to be rich, but I am paranoid about losing it. Will the market crash and we lose it all? Will we have a catastrophe that insurance for some reason doesn’t cover? Will the government start seizing people’s bank accounts like what happened in Cyprus a year or two ago? We worked hard to get where we’re at today and I don’t want someone trying to take it away to give to someone else who has chosen not to work. I’m learning to enjoy our wealth by prioritizing the important things in our financial life but it has taken me a long time to get to that point. And I don’t feel like I’m a jerk. Not every rich person is another Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. So as you increase you level of wealth, Lauri, work also on increasing your ability to be comfortable with having wealth. It’s a great place to be.

    • Laurie says:

      Kathy, I continually enjoy your wisdom. Thank you so much for being so willing to share. I hear you on the “afraid to lose it” part. I often think about countries like Cyprus and wonder “what if” that happens here. We can only do what we can do, however. Can’t wait to be in that great place of financial stability. It’s been a long time coming. 🙂

  • As we begin to accumulate wealth you can bet we won’t be telling anyone…our balance sheet isn’t anyone’s business. From the outside we’ll look almost identical….but on the inside, our mortgage balance will be decreasing, our cars will be paid off, and that 401K balance will be skyrocketing. I don’t need a bigger house, a fancier car, or more stuff. I just like the peace of mind that I’m taken care of. 🙂

  • YES! Mostly because of what my family would think. The path to financial independence is not “normal.” I mentioned once to some family that we had an accelerated plan to pay off our mortgage. Now everyone thinks we are doing better than we really are. We just choose to pay down debt instead of buy crap.

    • Laurie says:

      So often people think that those who choose to work hard to dump debt must be wealthy, when in fact, like you said, they just choose to not buy crap they don’t need. It’s amazing how deeply most people are willing to live in denial about money.

  • I can’t say I have a fear of getting rich, because I think I’ve been through enough to know it won’t change “me” at the core. I think being “rich” encompasses so many things, one of them being the green stuff, but also good friends, family, healthy, memorable experiences, low stress life, etc.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s great, Tonya. I think fear of change is the huge thing for me. We’ve been living tight with money for so long that I don’t know any other way to live. 🙂

      • Blaze says:

        Getting used to living frugally is a good thing in my books. If forces you to really examine what’s important to you, and not just to blindly sign up for whatever your friends and relatives have chosen to spend on.
        Paying off the debt is just phase 1. An important objective for sure. But it’s just a milestone along the way. If you’ve gotten used to living frugally why stop when the debt is gone. Just redirect all that money you’ve been sending to paying off balances and instead use it to build up your retirement funds. It’s a lot more fun to watch the money pile up and know that financial freedom is creeping closer every day.

  • Bridget says:

    Interesting perspective.

    I’m not afraid to be rich… I actually want it so bad it hurts haha. But I do think you made some great points.

    I wish they’d update the Millionaire Next Door. That book is so dated now.

  • Eric says:

    I’ve often wondered if I’ll get uneasy when I become very wealthy. I tend to think I probably will, given the precedent of so many other rich people who suddenly become fearful of losing their money. I would say the best antidote for this, for me at least, will be to own all of my assets outright and to create a life of simple living and friendships. I want money to simply exist only in the background. Thanks for posting this.


    • Laurie says:

      Love your philosophy, Eric!! Money truly does need to be in the background, especially after you’ve gotten it under control. As John Wayne said in “Sands of Iwo Jima”, it’s only paper. 🙂

  • Interesting perspective for sure Laurie! I never thought about it this way. I’m so proud of you for making so much extra progress in January and Feb. You are doing amazing!!

  • Reece says:

    Yep- I’ve had a lot of this recently. Not so much that I’m rich (definitely not!) but that I’ve achieved my goals over the past couple of years, and now have passive income.
    I think it’s because I realised that, if I live the right kind of life, I don’t have to go to work every day. That kind of freedom is both awesome and terrifying, especially if you’ve always had to work.
    I’m going to give it time and just hope it starts to feel more normal.
    Thanks for the great article!

    • Laurie says:

      “That kind of freedom is both awesome and terrifying, especially if you’ve always had to work.” Well said, Reece!!! It’s amazing how much our psyches can influence our success, isn’t it?

  • I think that fear might be the fear of loss. Not being rich now, I figure if I did get rich and lost it – no biggie. I would much rather invest than spend, so that probably wouldn’t happen. But yeah, as of now I am NOT afraid to get rich

    • Laurie says:

      That’s good to hear, Brian! I figure if we had it, I wouldn’t be afraid to lose it, because we were at that place of having nothing for so many years. 🙂

  • I’m definitely not afraid to be rich, but I’ve also realized the past few years (mainly since graduating college) that people perceive people differently if they think (or know) that they make a certain amount of income. I think there is a reason that in many situations people of the same income or wealth end up being friends or spending time together. I think it can also be more difficult than people imagine to be comfortable having wealth, high income, etc. because you have to relate to others who may be struggling or may be in a much worse place financially.

    • Laurie says:

      So true, DC! We’ve been on both sides of the coin, having friends with much more than we do, and having friends with much less than we do, and it’s often a bit awkward if the relationships get more serious.

  • How you paid off more in two months than all of last year, that’s some great traction Laurie. I think you hit the nail on the head with the reasons people are afraid or fearful. Good luck on your journey.

  • Even Steven says:

    I think some of it is paralysis of what to do next, like I’m rich should I buy a yacht, invest in hedge funds, move up in house? I’m getting closer to my student loan being paid off and I’ve gone through about 34 different scenarios on what I’m going to do next.

    • Laurie says:

      Excellent point, Steven! I think it was Brian that said that after they got their debt paid off they took a few months and just held still until they had a clearer idea of what they wanted to do next.

  • I don’t think I’m afraid to be rich, but I am always sort of thinking that something will go wrong and we’ll be broke again. I’m not sure how to get over that fear. Maybe years of being out of debt and making more money will do the trick and I’m just not far enough past the bad times yet.

    • Laurie says:

      That seems very common, Kim, and I think a lot of people feel that way. Being broke vs. rich is SO much about actions, though, and you guys are doing it right.

  • Yes, it’s sometimes sad to not be able to share with your friends some news about your successes when they have not been doing good lately.

  • I’m reluctant to be rich. I guess maybe for some of the reasons you listed. But mainly just because I think I’d take too many things for granted.

    But maybe I should be given a trial run, eh?

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