Good fortune tends to come to those who save and invest over a long period of time. However, sometimes your good fortune goes beyond expectations. In such scenarios, you may experience money guilt.
Money guilt arises when you don’t feel like you deserve your good fortune. With literally eight billion people in the world, why do you get to have the job you have and make the money you do? Or why did you get to buy Uber during the seed round and now be hailed as an investing genius for the rest of your life?
Maybe you don’t deserve your good fortune. But given there is an endless amount of money to make in this world, maybe you should enjoy it anyway. For if you don’t make the money, someone else will.
Two Somewhat Unexpected Financial Positives
The reason why I’m writing this post is because I’m feeling more fortunate than normal. Like most of you, I’ve seen my stock portfolio rebound after a bear market in 2022. Losing a lot of money on paper never feels good.
But this stock portfolio rebound doesn’t feel deserved. No effort was involved in seeing my portfolio claw its way back up. When you’ve done little to nothing to make money, you may feel guilty. Ironically, a lack of effort is why dividend-paying stocks are one of the top passive income investments.
The second win is seeing luxury home prices go down in San Francisco. When I bought our existing home in 2020, I had a strong feeling it wouldn’t end up being our forever home. I mainly wanted a fully remodeled place to stay during the pandemic given our previous place was under construction.
Depending on the home price segment, prices are down between 5% – 20% in San Francisco. The higher priced homes are down the most partly because nobody really needs a 9th bathroom or a 10th bedroom. Conversely, home prices near the median are only marginally down as more people can afford them.
Last year, I would have paid 18% more for the home I’m in contract to buy today. The only problem was last year I didn’t have enough funds to purchase it.
Back then, I was so serious about buying the home I was even willing to jeopardize a relationship by borrowing money from a friend. To owe money to friends feels awkward.
A 20%+ rebound in my stock portfolio and an 18% decline in the price of the home I want to buy feels like double good fortune! The problem is that the double win also feels like a fantasy.
How To Counteract Feeling Bad About Good Fortune
While all I’m hearing from the media is how unaffordable housing prices are due to high mortgage rates and low inventory, I’m also wondering, “What about our higher investment portfolios and higher net worths? What about also being able to buy at lower prices? Are people not also invested in funny money stocks?”
Maybe not. So in a way, I feel bad because shopping for homes with little competition feels great. It’s like taking a first grade spelling test as an adult. Am I really going to be able to fulfill my objective of buying the nicest home I can afford when my kids are living with us? Heck yeah!
If mortgage rates ever go back down, homebuyers who buy today can refinance and avoid bidding wars in the future. That’s a nice call option. I’ve invested in real estate for over 20 years and when the market heats up, prices rebound quickly. I don’t want to buy in a frenzy market.
To counteract feeling bad about my good fortune, I decided to write as many new posts as possible to help others. In other words, I wrote more to overcome the guilt for not having worked hard to merit my situation. And you know what? I feel less guilty as a result.
Hard Work Is Key To Eliminating Money Guilt
If you’re feeling guilty about your situation, then one solution is to go to work by creating a trust fund job. It’s the best way to feel like you are contributing to society.
If you can take your work a step further by doing work that helps others increase their good fortune, then even better! By working hard to spread the wealth, your money guilt will melt away as you are bringing others up as well.
Another way to eliminate feeling bad about your good fortune is to volunteer as much of your time as possible to helping others. The more you can directly help the people who need the most help, the better.
Giving money away is another way of reducing your money guilt. However, it won’t be as effective as volunteering because you’re giving away money you didn’t earn in the first place. Hence, you’re just finding yourself back at neutral.
For me, it’s easy to help people. I have the Financial Samurai platform and readers can subscribe to my newsletter without a paywall. Listeners can also subscribe to my podcast on Apple and Spotify for free too. I share what I learn in hopes of helping others achieve financial freedom sooner.
Don’t Forget The Work You Put In Already
If you’re not a trust fund child or nepo baby, then don’t forget all your previous hard work. After a while, it’s easy to forget all the sacrifices we made to build above-average wealth.
Here are some examples:
- Delayed having kids to focus on your career, which resulted in a more difficult time having kids later
- Worked 70 hours a week for five years so you could come up with a downpayment to buy your house
- Took on side hustles for 10 hours a week in order to go on nice vacations with your family
- Studied three hours a night in high school and five hours a night in college to achieve magna cum laude
- Woke up at 5 am every morning for three years to work on your passion project
- Volunteered every month for three years at a foster care center
- Went out of your way to mentor and help people in need
The more you can help others, the more good fortune you will receive. It is a virtuous cycle that keeps growing over time. Some call this good karma.
On the other hand, if you are always thinking about yourself first, then life might not be as kind. If you are born with good fortune and great wealth, but do nothing to help others, then you will likely feel guilty.
Don’t Forget Bad Fortune Always Comes Around Too
Finally, it’s important to realize good fortune doesn’t last forever. Eventually, something bad will happen and you will curse your bad luck. When that time comes, be appreciative of the good fortune you had earlier.
In my case, I’m assuming with a 70% chance the home I plan to buy will keep going down in price after I purchase. Real estate, after all, takes years to find a plateau once prices start declining. I also expect to deal with random issues like leaks from rainstorms and broken appliances in the future.
Therefore, whenever I’m feeling especially fortunate, I remind myself that this too shall pass. I don’t want to get too excited about anything because things are always changing. At the same time, I try not to get too down when there is a terrible event. Because that too will pass.
The parable of the Chinese farmer illustrates my point wonderfully.
Parable Of The Chinese Farmer
A farmer and his son had a beloved horse that helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild horses back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the horses and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The neighbors cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg. The neighbors shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Spend Time Being Grateful
If you are feeling agitated or upset something isn’t going your way, please zoom out.
- Be grateful if you live in a stable country that isn’t at war with its neighbors
- Appreciate your health or the health you have remaining
- Recognize your friends who constantly spend time checking in on you
- Love your family despite all the frustrations they create
- Cherish your job and your colleagues, for some have a difficult time finding work today
- Appreciate the conveniences of being able to make money in more flexible ways
- Embrace the daily cries and screams of your young children as they won’t be young for long
- Be thankful for every opportunity to try!
Reader Questions and Suggestions
Do you sometimes feel bad about your good fortune? Have you ever gone on a winning streak and dreaded it because you know eventually something bad will happen? How do you overcome any money guilt or guilt about your good fortune?
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