My brother Nick sent me this New York Times profile of Silicon Valley millionaires that shows exactly why enough money is never enough.
â€œYouâ€™re nobody here at $10 million,â€ Mr. Kremen said earnestly over a glass of pinot noir at an upscale wine bar here. ...
Taxes have devoured about 40 percent of his stash, Mr. Barbagallo said, knocking that figure down to $2.2 million. Over the years, he has tried to live off his salary, but not always successfully. To limit their monthly expenses, he and his wife Catherine bought a ranch house far from Silicon Valley, in the town of Moraga, for $750,000 â€” by Valley standards a modest sum.
But they spent $350,000 on extensive remodeling â€” causing them, not for the first time, to dip deeply into their nest egg.
Today, he has roughly $1.2 million left in savings and another several hundred thousand dollarsâ€™ worth of home equity, Mr. Barbagallo said, with one child in college and a second on her way.
So he works as hard as ever, logging more than 70 hours a week at a San Francisco start-up.
â€œPoor Tony, heâ€™ll never be able to retire,â€ Catherine Barbagallo said.
There are plenty of poorer people who seem to be much happier, no? At least the article mentions one guy wise enough to know when to quit.
That is what Mark Gage, 51, an engineer, and his wife, Meredith, did when they left the Bay Area in 2005 with $3 million or so in assets. They bought a house in Bend, Ore. â€” â€œa bigger, much nicer home with dramatic viewsâ€ â€” and now Mr. Gage works only when the perfect consulting job presents itself.
The problem seems to be lifestyle inflation -- that is, a cost of living that rises faster than your income.
Silicon Valley offers an unusual twist on keeping up with the Joneses. The venture capitalist two doors down might own a Cessna Citation X private jet. The father of your 8-year-oldâ€™s best friend, who has not worked for two years, drives a bright yellow Ferrari. Temptations loom everywhere.
â€œYou see how much money you have in the bank,â€ Mr. Koblas, the computer programmer, said, â€œand your eyes get really big.â€ He described it as â€œupsizing your life to your cash flow.â€ ...
â€œYou look around,â€ Mr. Barbagallo said, â€œand the pressures to spend more are everywhere.â€ Children want the latest fashions their peers are wearing and the most popular high-ticket toys. Furniture does not seem up to snuff once you move into a multimillion-dollar home. Spouses talk, and now that resort in Mexico the family enjoyed so much last winter is not good enough when looking ahead to next year. Summer camp, a full-time housekeeper, vintage wines, country clubs: the cost of living bloats.
To Mr. Milletti, it all looks like a marathon with no finish line.
â€œHere, the top 1 percent chases the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent chases the top one-one-hundredth of 1 percent,â€ he said.
That's no way to live, and I won't do it. That's why I moved to Missouri! (Not that I'm a millionaire, heh.)