I went to this dinner party last night (yes, it was as exciting as it sounds). A girl I know just got a new apartment and wanted to have some friends over. The apartment was very nice. Hardwood floors throughout. Very spacious. We were all joking that it looked like an apartment you'd see on Friends.
A bunch of us were sitting in the living room in front of the television armoire, and someone decided to check out the TV inside. It was almost comical. There was this huge armoire, but inside was a tiny 19 inch flat screen TV, only a little bit bigger than the screen on my laptop. Everyone kind of joked about it, and I remarked that you could get a pretty nice 32" flat screen for around $300 these days. Of course, one of my friends looked at me and said, "Only $300? That's a lot of money! We all aren't pharmacists!"
This short anecdote illustrates how seemingly all my friends and everyone I meet, on some level, can't get beyond the fact that I make a lot more money than they do. I never talk about my salary. I don't show off expensive things. My clothes are just as normal as everyone else. I've worn the same moderately priced watch for about 6 years now. I do everything I can to not let on how much money I make. However, in the end, no matter how close friends we are, they still hold it over my head in some way.
Back when I was young, stupid, and still in school, I used to constantly talk about how much money I'd be making. I didn't brag about it. It was more of a statement of "wow, I can't imagine that." At the time, I worked with a pharmacist who was only a couple years older than me. She warned me that it's probably best to never tell anyone how much money you make because once you do, they start looking at you differently. I didn't understand why that would be the case. Money, while important to living a comfortable lifestyle, never factored into how I judged a person.
Well... maybe a little bit. I always had a little bit of contempt for the uber rich who had everything they could possibly want and still wanted more. However, $100 to $200 thousand per year doesn't make you uber rich. It makes you pretty comfortable.
In any case, upon becoming a pharmacist and noticing for myself how people looked at me when I told them I was making over $50 an hour, I stopped talking about money altogether. I never bring it up anymore. I try to act like everyone else. However, when I do that people will remind me about the money.
If I don't want to call a big raise playing poker...
If I talk about wanting to save money by cutting back on eating out...
If I'd rather not spend my money on some expensive item...
In all these cases, someone will inevitably cut in saying, "C'mon, you make more money than all of us combined."
Even every new person I meet will say to me, "You're a pharmacist? I heard they make a lot of money." I swear that's the first thing out of everyone's mouth. I'm so sick of hearing about it. It makes me feel bad for having a good job. It makes me feel like everyone else thinks I'm better than them in some way.
I've actually been thinking of some sort of career change, and I think a lot of it has to do with this issue. I can't do it yet because I still have loans to pay off. That'll only take a little over 2 more years at my current pace, and at that time, I think I'd seriously consider changing professions entirely. I want to do something that makes me happy regardless of how much money I make. I want a job I look forward to every single day. Maybe that job doesn't exist. All I know for certain is that I've never even bothered looking for it.
The other option that I've been kicking around is after my loans are paid off, donating half my salary to charity. I make $120,000 per year. If as a single guy, I can't live comfortably off $60,000 per year, then there's something wrong with me. At the same time, I'd be doing good for the world. Maybe I could even start my own charity foundation, although I would have no idea where to start.
Those are just some ideas I'm kicking around. I just wish I could explain to people that after a certain point, money doesn't make you happier. Once you get to the level where you can live comfortably, the only thing the extra money allows you to do is buy more stuff. Stuff doesn't make you happy. I'm not any happier having a big screen TV than I was when I was watching an old 20" TV in a 100 square foot college dorm room. My condo's granite counter tops and hardwood flooring don't care about me. They're nice to have and nice to look at, but they don't make me any happier. Money hasn't gotten me the admiration of women. If anything, making much more than all my friends has only served to alienate me.
OK... That's enough rambling for today.