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Marrying 'rich' isn't all it's cracked up to be

August 31st, 2006 at 12:00 am

My entire life, my mother has entreated me to ensnare a rich man so that I will never have to worry about money again.

I used to think that this reasoning was shallow and silly (and in large part because I want to be financially independent and not have money play a role in the power dynamics of my relationship). But now, I also think it's just plain wrong.

Let me explain.

To start off, the first critical flaw in this plan is that there just aren't many rich people in this country. According to the wealth distribution in the US (data from 1998), the vast majority of nation's wealth is in the hands of a tiny fraction of the population.

For those who don't feel like viewing the reference link, here is the take-home message. The top 1% of the population own 38.1% of the nation's wealth. The next 9% own 32.8%. The next 20% own 24.4%.

What does that leave the rest (60%) of us? Only 4.7% of the nation's wealth.

I use this grossly uneven wealth distribution to simply conclude that statistics will not be on your side when it comes to meeting an eligible rich bachelor (or bachelorette). Unless you're an insider on Wall Street (or the White House??), I highly doubt you can just go out there and seduce a multi-millionaire. What a bummer, eh?

Another flaw in the nab-a-sugar-daddy approach to financial security is actually an observation I made while in high school and college. I went to a pretty elite high school and college, so there was a large population of wealthy kids there. Perfectly eligible young sugar daddies, right?

Wrong. I realized that the "rich kids" in my high school and college weren't rich *themselves*. It was their *parents* who were rich. After all, these kids weren't even out of school yet, much less earning money! Most of them don't even work, because they don't qualify for financial aid and the associated work-study jobs.

Furthermore, I noticed that kids born with a silver spoon in their mouths were not responsible with money. Most of them took money for granted, and didn't know how to manage it. At best, they spend freely and irresponsibly; at worst, they are spoiled rotten.

Would it truly do me any good to marry one of these rich kids? I would say no. Because even assuming he gets a large inheritance from his parents in the near future--which is not likely considering life expectancy and estate taxes, a kid with unproved earning power and weak money management skills will probably not remain rich for long. Chances are, the inheritance will be blown, and you'll be right back where you started, or worse--in debt, because this kid may not know how to replace the money that he's spent.

Okay, but what if your guy is actually earning a sizable income, and not just mooching off his parents. Well, that's good, since at least there will be fresh income coming in. But what would a large paycheck accomplish if it is spent every time? Maybe he won't spend himself into debt, but this doesn't exactly build wealth either. It merely maintains a constant state of treadmilling and survival.

Now what if your guy is responsible with money? Maybe he earns less than the others, or doesn't have a rich family, but with proper asset management, future financial security seems much more likely. And what's best is that monetary responsibility is a personality trait rather than an act of circumstance, so you don't need to find this guy in the top 1% of the population.

This is the train of thought that brought me to one of my seminal conclusions about choosing a spouse. It's not about finding a guy who is rich, or earns a high income. It's about finding a guy who can manage the money that he does earn.

And in case anyone thinks I've just killed romance, I'll be the first to admit that love is important, too. But love won't feed you or pay the bills, and I'm nothing if not practical. And this is a finance-related blog, so I'm not going to talk about mush on account of it being off-topic.

So there you have it. Another late-night insomnia-inspired ramble from Mimi. Maybe I *should* get a real life (or some sleep!).

11 Responses to “Marrying 'rich' isn't all it's cracked up to be”

  1. LuxLiving Says:

    Oh Mimi - The Nab-A-Sugar-Daddy line just broke me up!! Over here rolling in the aisles!! It was spoken so matter of factly!

    Do what's best for YOU!!

  2. ima saver Says:

    I waslucky. I met a hardworking guy and it was love at first sight. He had no money, but he would work 3 jobs to earn it. I knew the night I met him, he was the love of my life. We have never been apart since then, almost 30 years ago! He makes the money and I save it!

  3. Broken Arrow Says:

    I see you've given this some thought. Big Grin
    But you certainly have your head on straight. Good for you!

  4. ummabdullah Says:

    lol fantastic article. Love doesn't last after kids come anyway.. its up to the finances then.

    I hope u get a sweet guy who takes good care of you dear.. and treats u right.. and has his head on straight too.

  5. flash Says:

    You are exactly right! My mom always wanted me to marry right. I didn't, I married the guy I fell in love with. My mother had a fit, but was just happy to have her doctor daughter FIND a husband! He didn't tell me who his family was, so to speak, until after we were married. Afterwards he said, well, that's their money, not mine.

  6. baselle Says:

    You are going to enjoy The Millionaire Next Door. If the rich don't manage their money right and get poor, the poor and middle class who do manage their money right get rich.

  7. amberfocus Says:

    LuxLiving: Hehe, glad I could entertain. *bows*

    ima saver: Your success gives me hope that love, happiness, and financial security are all out there. May we all get there someday!

    Broken Arrow: You betcha I've thought about this! I just don't trust "conventional" views of relationships. They're too influenced by Hollywood. I mean, look at Moulin Rouge, a movie with the message that it is somehow honorable and admirable to be tragically penniless rather than financially secure. Real life isn't like that. You can't *be* happy if you're tragically penniless, even if you genuinely love Your Guy. I loved Moulin Rouge, by the way. I just don't think Real Life is like that.

    Although, in the end, I think I can settle for love *and* financial responsibility. So I might not be living in the Real World, either!

    ummabdullah: Aww, you're too sweet! But I'm kind of worried by your kid comment...

    flash: Wait, doctor daughters aren't supposed to be able to find husbands? Whoa, that might be just the piece of info I need to stop my mother from nagging weekly about how I should go to medical school and become a filthy rich doctor, already!

    baselle: I'll blog my thoughts on the book once I get through it. It
    certainly sounds intriguing--I've always liked sociological studies, especially ones that mess with your expectations.

    ~mimi

  8. Broken Arrow Says:

    Haha, I love Moulin Rouge. In fact, I could probably even recite some of the lyrics without looking it up. Ahem.

    Ewan: All you need is love!
    Nicole: (Aw darn it, I forgot what contrary thing she said.)
    E: All you need is love!
    N: A girl's gotta eat too.
    E: All you need is lo-o-o-ve!
    N: Love is just a game.
    E: I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me.
    N: The only way you're loving me baby, is to pay a lovely fee.
    E: Just one night! Just one night!
    N: There's no way cuz you can't pay!
    E: In the name of loooove! One night in the name of love!
    N: You crazy fool! I won't give in to you!
    E: Wait! Don't be this way. I can't survive without your love! Oh baby, don't be this way.

    There's more, but you know, I don't want to get carried away for a blog response. Big Grin And yeah, it's probably not accurate, but I swear I didn't look it up; just trying to recite from memory.

    I do agree that real life is not like that though. I know. Sadly. Still, I'm not against having a bit of fun along the way. Want me to sing this out for you?

  9. amberfocus Says:

    Hehehe! You did pretty good! IIRC, the first two Nicole lines are, "A girl has gotta eat!" and "She'll end up on the street!" Yes, I have most of this song/movie (ahem) memorized, too!

    Darn it. Now I wish my music weren't on my other computer. Why aren't there more movie musicals? WE NEED MORE MOVIE MUSICALS.

    *le sigh*

    ~mimi

  10. Broken Arrow Says:

    Ah, what the heck.

    Never knew I could feel like this
    Like I've never seen the sky before
    I want to vanish inside your kiss
    Every day I'm loving you more and more
    Listen to my heart, can you hear it sings
    Telling me to give you everything
    Seasons may change, winter to spring
    But I love you until the end of time

    Come what may
    Come what may
    I will love you until my dying day

    Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
    Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
    Suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste
    It all revolves around you
    And there's no mountain too high
    No river too wide
    Sing out this song I'll be there by your side
    Storm clouds may gather
    And stars may collide
    But I love you until the end of time

    Come what may
    Come what may
    I will love you until my dying day

    Oh, come what may, come what may
    I will love you, I will love you
    Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place

    Come what may
    Come what may
    I will love you until my dying day

  11. Broken Arrow Says:

    (Yes, I had to look that one up, because I didn't know the lyrics.) However, all I can say is, "Well, what's wrong with that? I'd like to know. Cuz, here I go .... again!" Wink

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