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I’m jealous of friends who have more money than me. Am I a bad person?
January 19, 2021

Written by Taryn King

Ways to self-reflect when envy creeps in.

Welcome to Ask Someone Smart, where we get tried-and-true money advice from people a lot wiser than us. Need something explained? Email emily@kikoff.com.

May I start by saying welcome to the club? No, you are not a bad person. We all do the comparison act, especially when it comes to friends and their money.

A good first step: assessing the friendships. Are they purposefully flaunting their wealth? If so, maybe reconsider how much time you spend with them (or just letting the friendship fizzle out). If not, time to look internally to see why jealousy exists in relationships you genuinely value.

This starts with figuring out why you’re actually envious. For example, two of my friends got lucky with Bitcoin investments early on, and now their savings accounts are insane. Am I jealous of how much money they have? Yes. But if I think about it, I’m more jealous they had the confidence to take a risk on an opportunity that paid off big time. I also have friends that chose jobs in extremely lucrative industries (ahem, banking). My jealousy there might stem from the fact I didn’t pursue the best major in college.

Whatever scenario, those feelings of envy are just laddering back to personal insecurities (which we’ve all got!).

So, time to analyze your personal financials. University of Kentucky psychology professor, Richard Smith Ph.D., states that “envy is really perceptual. Nothing that you have is going to feel good if you’re constantly thinking there’s something else that’s better.” Is your own net worth truly inadequate to live and be happy? Or does it just feel inadequate in comparison to your friends’? 

If the former, use that envy as motivation! Save diligently. Keep track of your credit card bills. Hell, ask for a raise while you’re at it! Make small choices over time to get you to a spot that’s a little more comfortable. If the latter, time to rethink what it means to be wealthy. There will always be someone richer, taller, smarter, more attractive than you, so don’t project your insecurities on those who are well off. Instead, be a good friend and celebrate their successes.

Finally, be grateful for everything you do have, monetary-related and not. We often forget that some of the best things in life are free—your rich friend being one of them.

Photo: Disney