Understanding the Psychology of Sudden Wealth

Woman sitting, experiencing the psychology of sudden wealth.

Sudden wealth can be both a blessing and a curse. While it can bring financial security, sudden wealth can also cause anxiety, stress and guilt. With this guide, you will gain insight into the psychology of sudden wealth and learn tips for responsibly handling and enjoying the newfound wealth.

Be Mindful of the Challenges that Sudden Wealth Can Present.

Despite the many benefits that accompany sudden wealth, it can also come with a variety of unexpected and unwanted challenges. One of the most common psychological effects of sudden wealth is anxiety. Unexpected sudden wealth often overwhelms people who might not even be familiar with managing large sums of money. At the same time, people who experience sudden wealth may feel guilty in some respects for having the money while others struggle to make ends meet. It’s important to understand these potential feelings and be mindful of how to address them responsibly.

My personal experience.

I know this was my personal experience when I inherited $14 million in 2010. You can read about my experience in my book, Lasting Wealth: A Revolutionary Method for Family Wealth Transfer. (It’s available on Amazon.) To summarize, I felt intense excitement (about the money), intense grief (about the loss of a family member), intense anger (about how the inheritance happened). At the same time, I had a hard time connecting with people, and I didn’t know who to trust. I ended up trusting the wrong people, and not trusting people who actually cared about me. 

Everyone Experiences the Psychology of Sudden Wealth Differently.

I like to say that money is like a magnifying glass. And the more money involved, the bigger the magnifying glass. Whatever your personal weakness happens to be, money will make it even more painfully obvious. If you suffer from depression, money will probably make it worse. If you are suffering from childhood traumas, money will just figure a way of bringing this up for you. If you have a hard time connecting with people, you’ll have an even harder time connecting once you have more money than the people you used to hang around with.

Don’t Make Any Quick Decisions. Take Time to Adjust to Your New Normal.

It’s best to wait before you make any decisions regarding money — from buying a house to deciding where to invest your windfall. Consider allowing yourself at least six months, or even more, for an emotional and psychological transition period before you make any big commitments with the money. Frankly, it takes most people up to 5 years to get to a new normal. By giving yourself time time, you can make more rational decisions. And the more rational your decision, the less likely you will regret them later.

Sudden Wealth Can Be a Form of Trauma. Be Kind and Patient With Yourself.

A sudden influx of money can be similar to any other form of shock and trauma, in the sense that it will lead to emotional distress, confusion, insecurity, and an overwhelming sense of instability. It is important to maintain self-compassion during this process. That’s because it’s going to take your brain and emotions a long time to adjust. Allow yourself plenty of time for rest, self-care and seek out trusted individuals who will support you through any difficult emotions or decisions you need to make.

You May Be Experiencing Sudden Wealth Syndrome.

Sudden Wealth Syndrome is a little known condition. It’s not officially a psychological condition. No psychologist will diagnose you with it. But there are some commonalities. Read my blog post called What Are the Symptoms of Sudden Wealth Syndrome to learn more.

The Psychology of Sudden Wealth Makes You Vulnerable to People Wanting Your Money.

When you come into a large amount of money, you may find that people start to behave differently around you because of your newfound wealth. You may feel attacked or experience manipulation from people wanting a piece of your newly increased resources. It is important to remember that it is ok to say ‘no’. Protect yourself and your wealth by drawing boundaries with the people in your life. Seek out trusted professionals to help make any important decisions when it comes to managing your newfound wealth.

Learn to recognize, understand and deal with wealth shock.

Wealth shock is one of the biggest psychological impacts that come with sudden wealth. This is a normal reaction to such a dramatic shift in lifestyle. And it may result in physical, mental and emotional stress. Symptoms of wealth shock include mood swings, withdrawal from friends and family or social situations, anxiety about money management or fear of losing it all, poor sleep and appetite changes. Learning to recognize this state and managing it responsibly will help you maintain balance. Seek out professional advice if needed – when faced with great change it is always better to get help from an outside source than try to manage everything independently.

Want Help Understanding the Psychology of Sudden Wealth?

Hi, I’m Paul Deloughery. I’m the founder of this law firm. And I’ve been in your shoes. It’s hard to find someone who understands you. Feel free to contact me if you want to talk. Just call 602-443-4888 and schedule a time on my calendar.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.

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