I propose that, today, we examine the question posed back in 1997: Does more money really mean more problems? Now, Biggie Smalls was worried about different things when writing this song, so it seems silly to consider the topic, but I genuinely wonder whether more money means more problems. Do you consider higher taxes and being a bigger target for scammers to be problematic? These are just two issues we’re going to examine in today’s post because more money can also mean living a more comfortable lifestyle.
There are pros, and even cons, to having money and I want to delve into all of it. So, let’s compare two fictitious people; Wealthy Joe, who wants for nothing, and Average Joe, who has his basic needs covered, but struggles to build financial wealth.
For the purposes of a tax discussion, we’re going to assume that Wealthy Joe makes enough to pay a higher rate in income tax. Please take note: Tax brackets are designed to affect people in a more equal manner, rather than everyone in the country paying the same rate. The United States puts its citizens into different tax brackets so everyone pays a different amount based on earnings, but there are a lot of factors that go into the calculation of how much tax you’ll pay. It’s almost too simple to try to examine this topic from the perspective of only how much you make, because while less money is being taken from the lower tax bracket, money is still money, and the cost of living expenses is not variable based on income levels.
But, for the discussion today, the reality is that when Wealthy Joe earns more money, he will inevitably be paying more in income taxes. In Kansas, if you are married and filing jointly while making over $60,000/year, you will pay income taxes at a rate of 5.7%. Wealthy Joe fits into this category whether he’s married and filing jointly, single, or married and filing separately. He might also be the head of the household and making over $30,000/year, so he will pay the same rate. There’s a lot of space for making assumptions about someone’s finances within that bracket. There’s also a lot of room for individualized situations requiring higher expenses in the categories for health, basic needs, and family size, among others.
Let’s take a look at Average Joe. Let’s say that Average Joe, who is married and filling jointly while making $30,000 and below, so the income tax rate is 3.10%. Average Joe could also be single, or married and filling separately, or he could be the head of a household and making $15,000 and below and he will pay taxes at the same rate.
Which Joe has more problems? We don’t really have enough information to make an assumption either way, but the point is simple. Doing your taxes is no easy task, and the more calculations and information you have to report on, the more complicated the return is to complete. I think we can determine that having more money is going to be more of a problem when it comes to filing taxes.
For fun, let’s take it to an extreme and look at a person like Elon Musk. In 2021, he made over $121 billion and, as a result, will be paying over $11 billion in taxes! It seems unfathomable that anyone could pay that much in income tax, but it’s true. I am not saying I feel bad for Elon. I mean, I would love to have made over $121 billion last year! I’m just providing a concrete example where, in my opinion, mo’ money does mean mo’ problems. Can you imagine making the decisions that Elon does every day?
A BIGGER TARGET
One potential risk to having more money in the bank is that you can be a bigger target for scammers. Or are you? This is a bigger issue today than it was ten years ago because technology has advanced in recent years. One of the newer scams out there is when a fraudster clones your bank’s phone number so that you’ll be more likely to trust them with your personal information. The end result is you end up having your money stolen. According to the Financial Times, many big investors, and even moderately Wealthy Joe’s, have lost large amounts of money to scams like these. Average Joe doesn’t have as much to lose, but does the total amount matter? Or is it the percentage of overall wealth that’s lost that matters? Or both?
Average Joe might be more likely to notice the loss of currency in their bank account quicker because he has fewer accounts to manage. Maybe. But, there again, Average Joe can also much more easily be ruined from a financial aspect because he has less financial resources. So the amount taken might be a much bigger hit to his livelihood. Wealthy Joe, by comparison, might have pots of money in various institutions or accounts to fall back on.
What’s your opinion? Does having mo’ money mean more trouble with fraud?
The perk of being Wealthy Joe means you are more likely to be able to splurge on things when you want to. Taking a vacation, buying fancy things, retiring early, these are all examples of things that Average Joe is more likely to struggle to do without making sacrifices or tradeoffs.
You have more freedom if you have more money, meaning you can probably live where you want, pursue your dreams, and be financially independent. Money can give you the security of not worrying where your next meal will come from, whether you can go to the doctor, or put a roof over your family’s head. Wealthy Joe is more likely to have fewer problems with attaining a comfortable lifestyle, but money management skills play a big part in whether this is true or not.In this instance, mo’ money does not necessarily mean mo’ problems, but it also doesn’t remove the possibility for problems entirely. Living within your means is a very important factor in determining the number of problems you face.
There are pros and cons to every situation, and while we might identify somewhere between Average Joe and Wealthy Joe, it’s important to be cognizant of the challenges that others face. Money can lead to stress and bigger risks, but it can also be a big blessing if you’re able to use your resources to help support others and build your community. Money doesn’t buy happiness; and though it can buy temporary happiness, it cannot last forever.
Tell us in the comments what you think. Has mo’ money meant more problems for you? What about those you observe around you? You don’t need to share your life story, we’re just curious what the average Midwesterner thinks, keeping in mind that “average” refers to a wide range of people.