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Money Can't Buy Happiness, Security Either

January 14, 2005|Kathy M. Kristof | Times Staff Writer

Not rich? Thank your lucky stars.

The rich have a better-than-even chance of being unhappy, according to a recent study of affluent households by PNC Advisors, a Pittsburgh-based firm that advises the wealthy.

What's more, the well-heeled don't think they have enough money to feel truly secure.

More than half of the 792 adults surveyed -- about 500 of whom have invested assets of more than $1 million -- said more wealth didn't bring more happiness. In fact, almost one-third of those with assets exceeding $10 million said money brought more problems than it solved.

A third also said that having enough money was a constant worry. They'd be more secure, said respondents in all wealth categories, if only they had twice as much.

"The more we have, the more we spend, the more we want," said Judith Martindale, a San Luis Obispo financial planner and millionaire.

Unsatisfied with her mountain of material wealth, Martindale went to a Zen retreat near Carmel -- 90 days without heat or electricity -- where she mulled over what mattered.

"What I learned is that the material things that I have are not as related to my happiness as I once believed," she said. "I can be happy with much less stuff."

By the way, having money doesn't mean you'll worry less about retirement security. One-fifth of those with assets of $1 million to $10 million said they weren't sure they had enough to maintain the lifestyles to which they've become accustomed.

"No matter how much you have," said Tim Kochis, a San Francisco-based financial planner, "there's always someone with more."

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