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Enough Is as Good as a Feast

Written By Gary S. Williams, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF® and Nicholas A. Ibello, CFP®, AIF® February 5, 2019

Enough is as Good as a Feast.” This was the quote at the end of an e-mail I received the other day and it intrigued me. It would be such a simple way to live, having just enough of everything you need—no more, no less. The problem is, when it comes to money, many people are unable to define “enough.” John D. Rockefeller purportedly was once asked, “How much money is enough?”  He candidly replied, “Just a little bit more.”  

According to a recent UBS Investor Watch survey of US millionaires, 52% feel like they are on a treadmill and are unable to slow down. Increasingly, people who have money don’t seem to know when they have enough. This could be because it’s in their nature to be competitive so they need to earn more to keep up with their peers. Or perhaps it goes deeper and comes from growing up in a working-class family in a lower socioeconomic situation, so they don’t identify with the upper class. Or it could be because, according to the same study,  62% feel that one major setback (e.g., lost job, market crash) would have a major impact on their lifestyle so they strive to earn more like a cushion.

According to an article in the New York Times (, some Silicon Valley millionaires feel guilty about becoming rich so quickly. Certainly, they made good decisions and worked hard, but some were also in the right place at the right time and they feel it can all go away at any moment. Others, whose net worth is $3 to $5 million, don’t feel rich when they compare themselves to others around them who are making much more than they are. Some recognize the geographic nature of their wealth. Because the housing values and cost of living in Silicon Valley are so high, they realize they would be on top of the heap in another location, but where they live they are a dime a dozen. So they continue to work and earn to keep up with the cost of living and their own growing lifestyles. They’re not comparing themselves to middle-class Americans. They’re comparing themselves to their neighbors.

This is not to say they don’t appreciate and enjoy their wealth—they do. But the majority of millionaires say enough never seems to be enough—even the wealthiest say they feel they need to stay on the treadmill to keep up their lifestyle.

There may be relief in sight. Perhaps millionaires would be able to relax about what is enough if they knew just how much is enough—in other words, how much they will need in order to retire, live in a lifestyle that is pleasant to them, and last their entire lives. By consulting with a financial advisor, millionaires can find out the exact number that will be their “enough.” Knowing they are working toward a specific goal and when they’ve reached it could bring abundant peace of mind to those feeling the stress that comes along with wealth. Having a solid financial plan in place to reach the goal of retirement is invaluable. Whether you’re a millionaire or not, working with a financial advisor is the best path to knowing that your “enough” will be equal to a feast.