Benjamin Franklin once said, “Do not worry about trouble, or what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” In other words, don’t fret.
But it’s not always easy to follow Ben’s advice. Worrying is a normal, natural thing, and it happens to the poorest and wealthiest among us. Money can help ease some fears, but there are ultimately things that will cause us to worry no matter how financially secure we are.
Here are things that we all worry about, regardless of our income. What else keeps you up at night?
1. Your health
One of the sad ironies about building wealth is that once you actually have accumulated enough to achieve financial freedom, you may not be young enough to enjoy it for very long. As much as older Americans worry about having enough saved, they also worry about whether they’ll remain healthy enough to have the active and happy retirement they dreamed of.
Financial wealth can help you get access to good medical care, but aging can win over even the richest among us. And even young people with money worry about falling ill or getting injured. The good news is that this worry can motivate us to do those things necessary to maintain good health, like eat well and exercise.
2. Your loved ones
Having money may ease your worries a bit, as you can help protect your loved ones from financial hardship.
But you can’t protect them from the consequences of their own bad choices. You can’t cure their illnesses. You can’t prevent them from having their hearts broken. Their health and happiness will be a perpetual source of worry. Even when we’re old and gray, we’ll still worry about our kids and other relatives. We’ll always worry about our spouses. But that’s OK. What kind of monsters would we be if we felt differently?
3. The health of our institutions
We can do a lot on our own to ensure financial security, but much of it also depends on outside entities to function properly. We need the federal government to operate smoothly and play a role in keeping our economy stable. We need a banking system that works. We need stock markets that operate effectively and in the best interests of investors. We need education systems that are working to make America stronger and smarter.
At various times in recent years, these institutions have had shaky moments. No matter how wealthy you are, you’ll always be keeping an eye on our governmental and financial systems to see if they are working the way they should.
4. Global conflict
There’s a reason the stock market took a major dive after the events of September 11, 2001. That’s because as a nation, there was genuine fear that we’d be roped into a major conflict or war that might have hurt our nation’s economy. We worry about war and global instability due to the potential impact on our finances.
But we also worry about global conflict because we are human. Having money in the bank means nothing when you’re worried about terrorism, or concerned about a friend or loved one serving overseas. We worry when we hear about global tensions that might turn into something worse. We actually live in one of the most peaceful times in human history, but until there’s peace on earth we will worry, regardless of how wealthy we are.
Fear of change is so prevalent that it actually has a name: metathesiophobia. It is natural for people to worry about changes in their lives, particularly those they can’t control. Having wealth can help mitigate some negative impacts of change, but there is some change that is inevitable no matter how financially prepared you are.
In fact, some of our biggest life changes — retirement, kids moving out, new living situations due to health declines — come later in life when we have achieved financial security. Consider that many older workers choose to remain in their jobs for no other reason than they fear the lifestyle changes that retirement might bring.
Change is inevitable, no matter how rich you are. Do you have the ability to embrace it when it comes?
Yes, you’ll worry about money even when you have a lot of money. That’s because there’s a good chance you’ve spent all your life worrying about having enough. So even when you reach a point when you’re financially comfortable, your brain defaults to worrying. Even when you’re rich, there may be things that happen to throw you financially off track.
The stock market can take a dive. Your family may be faced with a string of bad events. You never know what’s around the corner. We all want to reach a point when we don’t have to worry about money, but perhaps worrying about having enough money may be the very thing that ensures we have enough.