Why I Want to be Rich

“Money isn’t everything.” That’s what they say. “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” “No, maybe it doesn’t – but it sure as hell helps.” That’s what my father says. He says,

“Here—let’s do this. You have 2 million dollars, and I have $25K a year. Let’s trade places and talk again in 3 months. Let’s see how happy you are, and I’ll let you know what life’s like for me as a millionaire. I’ll tell you right now … you’re not gonna be very happy being broke.”

No. The 1% would be very unhappy without their money. Imagine having to worry about how you’re going to come up with your co-pays when you have stage 4 Lymphoma, and you visit the doctor 3 times a week—knowing you have a death sentence hanging over your head and on top of that you can’t afford your medicine.

I want to be rich. I’ll never be wealthy because wealth is built through money made and managed well throughout generations. But, I could be rich. I have been rich. I’ve had a lot of money a few times. It came, and it went along with the things I spent it on. Money is hard to keep if it’s not consistent. I want to be rich again and this time I want a lot of money consistently, because I have worked really hard and because my father is right. Life is easier with money.

I am an actor and a writer, and I have been able to land really great work at different points in my life. While working, I made an enormous amount of money. I was taxed enormously as well. And when the gigs abruptly came to an end—because a few network executives just wanted to wipe the slate clean—all I had was the money I’d made and my husband’s hard earned income.

“You should have made better investments.” “You were taxed so hard because you had no assets.” “You should have bought art.” “You should have bought bars of gold.” That’s what I’ve heard. “I should have …” Maybe. I tried different things at different times that I thought would be beneficial. I asked big people in big places for advice. Even some family members who have made fantastic amounts of money and manage it well—but no dice. No one had a real investment in helping me manage my money. If there is nothing in it for them, there is no reason to help anyone else because the time spent on anyone else is time taken away from them making money. Isn’t that greed? I think so.

I want to be rich so that I can really look into schools for my children and know that no matter the price tag, they can go there and get a great education. I don’t want to have to justify why our neighborhood Public School is just as good as a Private school. I want to be rich so that we can own a home that we love, and we can keep. My children want a backyard with a lot of grass, in a safe neighborhood. My dogs need space to run. My little black dog likes to sunbathe—she’s 12 years old and on her way out. I don’t know if she’ll get her day in the sun. I want to shop at Pottery Barn and furnish my house with all of the things that make that store look so pretty. I want to paint the walls of the house the colors that make us who we are and this time I want to keep them – the walls, the house. I want to be able to shop at “Whole Foods” because the food is “organic” and my family deserves to eat well—and so do I. No, I don’t shop at Whole Foods. I shop at Ralphs and Vons and even the Dollar Store. Yes, I do. How many of you do the same, but won’t admit it? You have to store hop when looking for a sale. No, I can not afford an $8 gallon of milk. No, I can not. I’d like to have a reason to buy something at William-Sonoma.

I’d like to take my girls to get their hair cut every two months, and I’d like them to get their nails done bi-weekly. I’d like to get my hair cut and colored every three months, consistently. And my nails done with my girls.

I want to be rich because I want to move my parents who are 70+ years of age, from the freezing temperatures in New York to the West Coast where it is warm, where I am, where my children are. I want to see them before they die. I want to help my father with his co-pays and with anything else he may want or need. I want them to go out on a high note, a happy note, not full of fear and sadness. It’s unpleasant to see your parents looking back and asking what went wrong—when you know they worked hard, and they deserved more. When my Dad tells me he is in the “November of his years…” the clock starts ticking at an incredibly fast pace in my head, and I’m trying to figure out a way to beat it. I know I can beat it.

I don’t want to be the actress on the stage accepting the award and looking up and saying “Thanks, Mom and Dad. I know you’re proud.” I want them in the audience. I know how thrilled they’ll be. I want to be rich so that I can fund my career and have all the supplies, and classes and necessities it takes to compete with the best. I don’t want to wing it anymore.

I want to be rich so I can take my children shopping in the Summer, and in the Fall. And then again in the Winter and one more time in the Spring. I can do that now, but I’m always worried. There is a ball of anxiety stuck in my chest when I reach the register, and the cashier tells me the total. I want to be proud and excited to see my girls in the clothes they need and like. I don’t want to be scared. This is why I want to be rich.

If I had the money I am seeking I would help my younger brother with things that he needs. There was a time when I didn’t have much and he had A LOT and he gave me and anyone he knew—who needed something—whatever we asked for. I didn’t even have to ask him. He was observant and took care of the things I couldn’t take care of. His luck took a turn when the housing market crashed, and he lost almost everything. What he didn’t lose is his perspective that it was just material goods, and he can attain it all again. He’s working toward that, but the road has not been as kind as it was the first time around. He has run into obstacles. He’s happy to be alive, but there are things that he needs. I want to be rich so I can help him. He deserves that. I owe it to him.

I want to be rich so that I can release the burden of non-stop bills from my husband’s shoulders. I want to give him a break. I want him to sit down and relax. I’d like to take a vacation with him. I’d like to know him again without the worries of the world on his mind. I’d like to know what he’s like when he doesn’t have to think about what else he can do to put food on the table.

My husband is a hustler. He can sell ice to Eskimos, and he will work as hard as you’ll let him. Right after our first daughter was born, he got a job as a salesman. He started work in November of 2001 and the territory they gave him was Chinatown. First of all, it was weeks after 9/11 and Chinatown was a ghostland. There were remnants of what used to be, but nothing really left. The people down there only spoke Chinese and were trying to salvage whatever business they could. They did not want to buy what my husband was selling. He was selling Xerox machines. No one needed a copy of anything. All of the original paperwork had been blown away by a terrorist attack. Even though the odds were stacked against him, my husband wore the soles of his shoes thin. Truly. He wore them out knocking on anything there was to knock on down there. He brought business out of a town that was honestly a no man’s land. Even “the boss,” said my husband was the hardest worker he’s ever seen. It’s been 14 years, and he is still working just as hard. It feels like just when he’s about to see results the rug gets pulled out from under him, and he has to start again. That doesn’t stop him. He keeps working. I want to be rich because it’s his turn to take a break.

I want to be rich so that I can take my mom to Macy’s and she can buy whatever purse, whatever makeup, whatever she wants, with cash and walk out with so many bags she wouldn’t be able to carry them all herself. Next stop Saks Fifth Avenue where she can have the sales associate bring the clothes she likes to the dressing room for her. I want to go to lunch at a fancy restaurant with her and let her pick out anything she wants on the menu. I want her to be able to see any and all Broadway shows, and I want to go with her, like when I was little. She made sure she took me to the theater. She made sure I had what I needed. I want to make sure she has what she needs. I owe it to her.

I want to have enough money to make sure my best friend and her daughter in New York are completely taken care of. She is a special ed teacher. She has changed so many lives. She has fought a hard fight for those whose disabilities are extreme, and she has won over and over. My best friend visited me here on the West Coast twice a year for the first eight years that I lived here. She can’t afford the trip anymore, and I can’t afford it for her nor do I have enough money to get us home, to New York. I want to be rich so I can see my best friend and my Goddaughter as often and as much as we want to see each other.

I want to do the job I do so well and make the money I’ve worked so hard to make on a consistent basis. And I will do all that I’ve listed above plus donate to the charities I want to support and use my platform to speak out on behalf of those who have no voice because they do not have enough money for anyone to care to listen. Yes, money talks.

Some may argue that most Americans want to be rich and do not ever reach that goal. Maybe some think that “I should be grateful for what I have and not want so much …” or “I should be happy that I’ve had the experience of having made lots of money …” or “I should …?” The way I see it – I am part of the 99%, and the wealth should be distributed more evenly. I want my friends and family to have the best this life has to offer – because we get one go around and then lights out. Is it too much to ask? So the race against the clock continues. I’ll never quit and if they die – may my family know they died – with me trying.


Elizabeth Regen

Elizabeth Regen lives in Los Angeles but is a 3rd generation Manhattanite, hailing from NY, NY. Elizabeth is a mom of two girls, ages 13 and 4. She's been married for over 10 yrs. to her hard working husband. She is an actor and a writer and believes in finding creative ways to empower women and young people.

One thought on “Why I Want to be Rich

  1. Alyson Gunn Reply

    Thank you. I love the clarity of your vision. Nothing you asked for is too much. It is all well deserved and one day it will be, but until then your friendship, love, and your generous compassionate heart makes everyone around you rich.

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