Personal Finance: Money Can't Buy Happiness

Michelle Singletary
Thursday, December 10, 2009; 10:03 AM

I'm always looking for personal finance lessons in the lives of celebrities, since we mere working-class mortals often idolize their fame and fortune. In the last two weeks Tiger Woods' life has been one large lesson that money can't buy you love -- or keep your secrets.

Let's recap. The world's best golfer, a husband and father of two small children, crashed his car late last month. That accident opened the door to allegations that he's had affairs with at least 10 busty bombshells.

What has followed is a lot of commentary on what we can learn from Tiger's admitted "transgressions."

Tiger's troubles provide the perfect cautionary tale for young girls and boys who yearn for the fame, but sometime forget the 'bitter' that comes along with it, Terrence Samuels of The Root writes in The Tiger Woods Lesson: Do You Really Want to be Rich and Famous?.

A panel of experts at the Post's new On Success Web feature weighed in on Tiger's travails.

"We just expect more of people who are well-known because we secretly want them to pay a price for their fame and money," wrote On Success panelist Garrison Wynn, founder of Wynn Solutions.

Another panelist, Celeste Owens, a motivational speaker and licensed psychologist, wrote: "Being a public figure has its advantages (e.g., endorsements, huge signing bonuses) and disadvantages (e.g., being held to a higher standard/role model) -- one cannot divorce the two. Like it or not, to whom much is given, much is required."

"Tiger Woods has certainly profited from his fame, therefore I have little sympathy for the costs he simultaneously incurs from this notoriety," wrote Catherine H. Tinsley, associate professor at Georgetown University's business school and the executive director of the GU Women's Leadership Initiative.

Tinsley went on to say: "He has earned this money not just through his sports winnings but also from all his endorsements and sponsorships. Thus, he reaps profit now because he is famous, because people look up to him, model after him, and want to be him. I might also add my speculation that his sexual attractiveness is heightened by his fame -- because people look to him and model after him, women want to be with him."

Read what other On Success panelists had to say.

By the way, there have been no advertisements in prime-time featuring Woods since Nov. 29, according to data from Nielsen Co. But give them time, the advertising will return. Tiger is still a big draw.

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