In the years leading up to my decision to retire, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly how much money is enough to retire on. "More" is always better, but all I really needed was "enough."
As our nest egg grew, I frequently asked myself, "with this amount of money, what would I be required to give up in order to retire, and could I live with that?" When the answer was finally, "Yes, I could live with that," that's when I decided we had enough.
Working more years and having more saved would not have changed that equation. As we earn more, we spend more, which would just mean more possible things to have to give up in retirement.
Clearly, though, there is such a thing as too much money.
Last night I saw Tom Perkins interviewed on 60 Minutes. Now there's a guy with too much money. He built an 88 meter yacht; Leslie Stahl asked him how much it cost to build. She speculated that it was between $150 million and $300 million. He was too embarrassed to say exactly, but indicated that it wasn't quite as high as $300 million. I guess he thought we viewers would think it gross if he told us the actual amount. Guess what, I think it's gross anyway.
Yesterday in the New York Times, I saw this article about the rich being less rich now, and how they are worried about how this will affect their marriages. One guy whose net worth has dropped from $20 million to $8 million is worried that his wife will leave him if she finds out. He's hiding the reality from her by paying for stuff with debt.
Apparently, this fall from fortune could also jeopardize their friendships, and their kids might not get invited to the right birthday parties. They don't mind raising funds by selling their $2 million diamonds, because their friends probably won't notice. But they would not risk selling the Bentley or the artwork because their friends would notice that.
I would never have been in danger of having to give up a yacht to retire, nor do I have the type of spouse or friends that would ditch me as my net worth drops. I wonder though, is there some amount of money that makes people lose all sense of what is important in life? I'll never know; all I need is enough.