Affluence and the perception thereof

Seth wrote:

I wonder, then, if (with notable exceptions, obviously) that is the human condition; this tendency toward discomfort with one's own surroundings.

That actually was my point.

Something that would be germaine is the perception, possibly the reality, of a regression in the West.

By and large as societies progress, as people get elevated to vast wealth, you can observe the "lower rungs" being pulled up as well. By that I mean, the minimum standards grow. As America grew, and prospered even the poorest got access to electricity, transportation, education, etc.

Further there is the reality that the US is slipping behind the rest of the modern world, and much of the developing world with respect to key quality of life factors-life expectancy, access to health care, general happiness, length of the work week, compensation, etc.

What is often cast aside of jealousy between haves and have nots, flippantly, stems from this. America does not regard higher education as a right for all, does not regard healthcare as a right for all, does not regard employment, housing as rights for all. In many areas the US is in the third world. And yet we have a very high cost of living in areas as well. We pay the highest prices in the world for internet, at some of the slowest speeds with some of the most limited access. We do not have a national pension program capable of caring for our ever growing population of elderly. We pay the highest prices for cell phone's with increasingly limited access. We pay the highest prices in the world for healthcare, for what is 30th's best. We have one of the longest standard work weeks, and one of the lowest minimum wages relative to our peer nations.

Minarchist wrote:
Seth wrote:

I wonder, then, if (with notable exceptions, obviously) that is the human condition; this tendency toward discomfort with one's own surroundings.

That actually was my point. :)

Oh. Whoops.

So are you saying that perhaps taking a moment to breathe and fight against one's instincts to base one's life on increasing one's pile of stuff can actually lead to more happiness?

Or are you saying that even if we accept this primal human drive, it may behoove us to look at other competitors in the race and see just how many people we are dominating, even if we only have, say, a 13 year old corolla or all of our jeans come from Goodwill?

(the second example is mine, just so I have some personal skin in this game.)

Seth wrote:
Minarchist wrote:
Seth wrote:

I wonder, then, if (with notable exceptions, obviously) that is the human condition; this tendency toward discomfort with one's own surroundings.

That actually was my point. :)

Oh. Whoops.

So are you saying that perhaps taking a moment to breathe and fight against one's instincts to base one's life on increasing one's pile of stuff can actually lead to more happiness?

Or are you saying that even if we accept this primal human drive, it may behoove us to look at other competitors in the race and see just how many people we are dominating, even if we only have, say, a 13 year old corolla or all of our jeans come from Goodwill?

(the second example is mine, just so I have some personal skin in this game.)

Well, not exactly. It's not to take the attitude that "hey, some people have nicer stuff than me but at least I'm not that guy, amirite?" (Not that I think it's what you're saying, just covering the bases here.) The point is to try and eschew comparison altogether. I spent a lot of inches showing how far we've progressed not really to say how good we have it, but to try and somehow point out that there are happy and unhappy people at every income level imaginable; it's your perspective on your material possessions — not relative to other people, but in and of itself — that determines how you feel about it. Which I probably didn't word as well as I meant to. I blame Friday afternoon.

EDIT: feel free to take this to PMs if you want. I dunno if we're the only two talking at this point.

Minarchist wrote:

The point is to try and eschew comparison altogether.

And that's just what I need to hear, repeatedly until I internalize it. They're ugly thoughts that get me nowhere except pointlessly aggravated. But yes, I want my daughter to see the beautiful and amazing things out in the world, no matter where in the world she is, and not a Matrix-like code of dollar signs driving the perception of some sort of cosmic injustice.

Kraint wrote:
Gravey wrote:

The part that bothers me most, though, is not the wanting more, but wanting to know what others did to deserve the more they have; that I have to know they earned it (against I-don't-even-know what criteria), otherwise I feel they shouldn't have it. And how is that productive, or even relevant, let alone harmonious?

Well, we have historically structured our tax code to make sure that wealth was earned and aristocracy prevented. So that feeling was shared by a lot of great men in the past, regardless of how productive we think it is.

Ah, so I'm actually being noble!

Minarchist wrote:
Seth wrote:
Minarchist wrote:
Seth wrote:

I wonder, then, if (with notable exceptions, obviously) that is the human condition; this tendency toward discomfort with one's own surroundings.

That actually was my point. :)

Oh. Whoops.

So are you saying that perhaps taking a moment to breathe and fight against one's instincts to base one's life on increasing one's pile of stuff can actually lead to more happiness?

Or are you saying that even if we accept this primal human drive, it may behoove us to look at other competitors in the race and see just how many people we are dominating, even if we only have, say, a 13 year old corolla or all of our jeans come from Goodwill?

(the second example is mine, just so I have some personal skin in this game.)

Well, not exactly. It's not to take the attitude that "hey, some people have nicer stuff than me but at least I'm not that guy, amirite?" (Not that I think it's what you're saying, just covering the bases here.) The point is to try and eschew comparison altogether. I spent a lot of inches showing how far we've progressed not really to say how good we have it, but to try and somehow point out that there are happy and unhappy people at every income level imaginable; it's your perspective on your material possessions — not relative to other people, but in and of itself — that determines how you feel about it. Which I probably didn't word as well as I meant to. I blame Friday afternoon.

EDIT: feel free to take this to PMs if you want. I dunno if we're the only two talking at this point. :)

Here, I'll jump in : D

Minarchist wrote:

Ever traveled to a poor country? To Haiti, or interior South America? Ever stepped outside the tourist zone in Cancun? It's great for head-clearing perspective. We've completely lost sight of our actual needs. What do we need? Really? Food. Shelter (preferably heated). Clothing. That's about it. Have those covered? Then guess what: by historical standards you're doing pretty damn well. A visit to any one of the aforementioned areas quickly sorts out what's truly valuable from what is grotesque envy on our part. If you ever hear a Haitian complaining that they only have a one-car garage, you let me know.

I'm going to disagree with this. What you're missing in that list is culture. The historical standard is for people to have a culture, to have a psychological place in the world. Even the poorest medieval peasant could afford to be Christian. Everyone in the tribe could afford the services of the shaman. You've got Egyptians who subsist on a small bowls of lentil soup rioting over a film someone somewhere halfway around the world made because it attacked their culture. I'm reminded of a line associated with the American labor movement of the early 20th century: "Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!"

There's certainly an ugly side to keeping up with the Joneses that is to blame for more and more of the envy we see, especially as we move up the income ladder. However, I think there's another, more healthy side to it: we all want to feel part of the culture around us, and that's written into us as humans at a very deep level. I think there's a subtle, but fundamental difference between "I want more than the other guy" and "I feel like I'm missing out."

Farscry wrote:

Which leads to a shift in the conversation and my real purpose in starting this thread:

What, exactly, defines affluence? Is it based upon a living standard above a certain portion of the populace? If so, then why do those who have that standard not recognize it as such? Or is it based upon total asset value, in which case someone who's earned more money over their life might end up less affluent than another who earned less but invested it in better assets (home, property, etc)?

What else?

I don't think it's a simple discussion, and I appreciate input from ALL portions of the wealth spectrum.

The subject of affluence is not easy. People in general don't get a sudden huge increase in income. It's usually a gradual process. In the same way spending isn't usually a landslide increase. And along the way expenses increase as well.

You start out spending $50 a week on groceries and not eating out, over the years your tastes expand with your income and you get used to spending more. So previously you were cutting coupons, no money for eating out without planning, packing all your lunches for work. Wondering if you can afford a treat once a month and buy a Rib eye steak for 1 meal. Fast forward 10 years, your income increases, you no longer think much about buying a Rib eye steak for 1 meal, you might now eat out a few times a month, and you might now like to occassionally buy a nice bottle of wine once or twice a month and you no longer have to pack your own lunch every day. It's not fancy, it's not luxurious, your standard of living has improved but by no means are you wealthy.

That's how it is with most people who are earning $100k or more a month. It's usually a gradual process in your expanditure. They might be contributing 12% of their pay in 401k a month, their house is nice perhaps $200k (assuming an urban settting) certainly better than what someone earning $50k can afford, but it's not like a mansion by any means. They might be sending their child to a private school again something out of the range of a $50k salaried person, but to do this they need to seriously cut corners in their personal life, meaning no extra bottles of wine that month, having to pack lunches to work now, etc.

Wealth is also a very personal issue. People have very different ideas of cost and justifying them. With the vast numbers of persons buying iPad and iPhones do you think they can all afford it? Some buy it on credit, some would rather buy it than fund their 401k, some save up months to afford it. We all have different priorities and perceptions in life which affect our concept of affluence.

Not to get on a soapbox but earning $100k or even $200k is not wealthy in today's context. There is no doubt that they enjoy a better standard of living than someone earning $50k. But I know of people earning $50k and funding their 401k and have 3-8 months cash set aside for emergencies. I also know of people earning $200k who are living paycheck to paycheck with no retirement funds.

I highly recommend watching Suze Orman on MSNBC to see just how different perceptions of wealth and affluence can be.

CheezePavilion wrote:

There's certainly an ugly side to keeping up with the Joneses that is to blame for more and more of the envy we see, especially as we move up the income ladder. However, I think there's another, more healthy side to it: we all want to feel part of the culture around us, and that's written into us as humans at a very deep level. I think there's a subtle, but fundamental difference between "I want more than the other guy" and "I feel like I'm missing out."

What? No. The same concept resides in the people of nationalities that have plenty more culture than us. How is it wanting to be part of the culture if you're already 2 standard deviations away from the mean and want to push even farther away? This isn't what I meant at all.

In unrelated but very related news, here's a rather snarky take on the Hedonic Treadmill, an important concept in relation to this topic. (Which you shouldn't feel bad about starting, Farscry.)

Minarchist wrote:

Ever traveled to a poor country? To Haiti, or interior South America? Ever stepped outside the tourist zone in Cancun? It's great for head-clearing perspective. We've completely lost sight of our actual needs. What do we need? Really? Food. Shelter (preferably heated). Clothing. That's about it. Have those covered? Then guess what: by historical standards you're doing pretty damn well. A visit to any one of the aforementioned areas quickly sorts out what's truly valuable from what is grotesque envy on our part. If you ever hear a Haitian complaining that they only have a one-car garage, you let me know.

This is part of why my wife and I travel. I'll just bulletpoint some experiences because it's easier.

- My wife and I were in Panajachel, Guatemala a couple of years ago. We were in a market near the town square and the church. In this market were broken toys, rolls of toilet paper. It's humbling to watch an open market filled with people buying goods that most Americans would turn their noses up at. Nevermind the whole concept of buying goods like that in an open market. That level of poverty is something you don't see in the US.

- In Panama we got mobbed by people trying to get us to use their boating service or their hotel. As soon as you get off the ferry from the mainland. Watching teenagers who should be in school "working" at jobs like that...

- Also in Panama there is a beach called the Red Frog Beach. There are these frogs there that are poisonous to the touch. Little kids catch them somehow, put them in a giant palm frond or leaf and then ask tourists if they'd pay 50 cents or a dollar to take a picture of a frog.

- In Costa Rica we went to an animal sanctuary to see sloths and monkeys. The monkeys end up there because locals trap them and try and sell them to tourists. You'll literally see children soliciting tourists in the city (Puerto Viejo in this case).

There are other experiences. Too numerous to go into. But it's definitely humbling to see how the rest of the world gets by.

Gravey wrote:

So I feel like everyone I live around is filthily affluent and I seethe with jealousy. But what can you do about? I don't know these people or their histories (or possibly their financial I'm comfortable and happy, but when I see others more comfortable, I get less happy. Emotionally, I want a reckoning of how/why they deserve it, even though it's irrelevant to me and my life. And I know intellectually that's wrong, but... I'm only human?

That kind of feeling isn't even restricted to humans.

As others have said, most people won't perceive themselves as affluent regardless of income due to the combination of acclimatising to our current situation and taking it for granted; the increase in income being a slow progression so you acclimatise at each step; the keeping up with the Joneses, and the tendency to compare the behind the scenes parts of our lives with our peers' highlight reel.

Ultimately I suspect a lot of this stuff is pretty hard-wired in from an evolutionary point of view, since the hominid that chilled out once it had enough food to feed itself wouldn't have had as many offspring as the one that always wanted more. Unfortunately being happy and relaxed are not selectively advantageous.

Sonicator wrote:

That kind of feeling isn't even restricted to humans.

As others have said, most people won't perceive themselves as affluent regardless of income due to the combination of acclimatising to our current situation and taking it for granted; the increase in income being a slow progression so you acclimatise at each step; the keeping up with the Joneses, and the tendency to compare the behind the scenes parts of our lives with our peers' highlight reel.

Ultimately I suspect a lot of this stuff is pretty hard-wired in from an evolutionary point of view, since the hominid that chilled out once it had enough food to feed itself wouldn't have had as many offspring as the one that always wanted more. Unfortunately being happy and relaxed are not selectively advantageous. ;-)

The evolutionary psychology angle—you're a man after my own heart.

That said:

the tendency to compare the behind the scenes parts of our lives with our peers' highlight reel

is a great thing to keep in mind.

OG_slinger wrote:

That's because he's comparing his life and lifestyle with people who make way more than he does. I'm sure in his mind he's middle class because he knows he's making more than some Americans (though he likely doesn't understand just how much more), but he also knows that other people are much more wealthy than him. Ergo, he's middle class.

One of the things I found when I visited some friends in Brussels was that they all considered themselves to be middle-class and "only just surviving". I had the guy telling me about the money he lost on a huge investment (like $1 million+) he tried to bring in from the US and other people saying how the rent was much higher there.... Only they were somehow able to afford the casual use of cocaine and expensive fashion items when I had had to borrow money just to travel to the city (staying with a friend so the overall costs were lower) and they said we were all equal....

Minarchist wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

There's certainly an ugly side to keeping up with the Joneses that is to blame for more and more of the envy we see, especially as we move up the income ladder. However, I think there's another, more healthy side to it: we all want to feel part of the culture around us, and that's written into us as humans at a very deep level. I think there's a subtle, but fundamental difference between "I want more than the other guy" and "I feel like I'm missing out."

What? No. The same concept resides in the people of nationalities that have plenty more culture than us. How is it wanting to be part of the culture if you're already 2 standard deviations away from the mean and want to push even farther away? This isn't what I meant at all.

I think you missed that part--we're saying the same thing in the passages I bolded.

Just my perspective and I hope this doesn't come off as judgemental. I know plenty of low income people who still work their butt off and I too have been in that situation. I grew up rather poor (the kids would make jokes that my family had to put Wendy's on layaway), but I did have the benefit of usually having enough food, shelter, and clean if cheap clothing. Through a lot of hard work my wife and I just broke the six figure barrier this year. We still don't feel like we're rolling in the dough for a number of reasons:

1. We live in a HCOL. My 1,000 square foot house cost a fortune (we bought in 2006 near the top of the bubble) and property taxes are close to 7 percent. Gas is now over $4 a gallon. My job requires lots of flexibility so I can't take advantage of public transit that often.
2. We jumped from the 15 to 25 percent tax bracket which hurt a lot more than I expected it to.
3. We have a young kid in daycare, which costs almost $10K a year. But he really gets great care and the extra money is worth it.

Yes, we could be better. We sometimes eat out several times a week and take at least a vacation a year, but usually within the US. But we live in a rather small house, drive 10-year old cars and go clothes shopping for us maybe a couple times a year. I play video games but mostly on Steam sale. In other words, I don't think we live extravagantly at all, even though I'm sure somebody from say Haiti would be amazed at our opulence.

IMHO, whether you live in LCOL or HCOL area makes a huge difference. My buddies making $50K/year in Kentucky and Indiana can still afford a bigger house and newer SUVs while I'm still pushing my Corolla with 150K miles on it.

My wife and I are admittedly pretty well-off; we've both been pretty successful in IT, and we've got good incomes with the big suburban house, go on vacation regularly, and save for the future. I consider us to be affluent, but she doesn't; we're "middle class" to her. The thing is, I grew up not-rich, never eating out or going on a vacation other than camping or out to the dingy one-room cabin (with outhouse for a toilet) they bought for IIRC $9500 back in 1976. We didn't have much, but we had food and security. My wife, on the other hand, had to deal with being raised by her mom from the age of 11 on, when her mom left her dad and took her and her two brothers, and her instant plan to support her kids involved going to the University of Iowa to get a M.F.A. in Creative Writing-Poetry. My wife grew up literally hungry, wearing old clothes, always dealing with the phone or power being turned off, and her mom spending what money they had on stupid stuff like a fancy front door for $400 (back in the late 70s). She had nothing, and now she's really well-off, yet, somehow, she's not rich at all. She is in my mind a couple orders of magnitude more secure than she was as a kid, yet she STILL grumbles about money.

So, I think a lot of it depends on upbringing as well. I grew up with not much in terms of financial wealth, but was blessed with a simply incredibly loving and supporting family environment, and I think we're doing just great. She grew up with constant stress over money, and she still has that, regardless of how much we make.

Gravey wrote:

The evolutionary psychology angle—you're a man after my own heart.

The legacy of a misspent youth studying genetics.

jdzappa wrote:

Gas is now over $4 a gallon.

drive 10-year old cars

You know, getting rid of those gas-hungry devices and instead getting newer much more efficient cars would really help in this situation. I realise there's an initial huge investment that needs to be made but, really, 10-yr old cars should not be being used for consistently driving longer distances unless you want to spend a lot of money on unnecessary fuel usage.

Duoae wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

Gas is now over $4 a gallon.

drive 10-year old cars

You know, getting rid of those gas-hungry devices and instead getting newer much more efficient cars would really help in this situation. I realise there's an initial huge investment that needs to be made but, really, 10-yr old cars should not be being used for consistently driving longer distances unless you want to spend a lot of money on unnecessary fuel usage.

I thought there was a study done that said the economic benefits of buying a new fuel efficient car don't pay off for decades. I could be completely wrong but I thought I read that.

DSGamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

Gas is now over $4 a gallon.

drive 10-year old cars

You know, getting rid of those gas-hungry devices and instead getting newer much more efficient cars would really help in this situation. I realise there's an initial huge investment that needs to be made but, really, 10-yr old cars should not be being used for consistently driving longer distances unless you want to spend a lot of money on unnecessary fuel usage.

I thought there was a study done that said the economic benefits of buying a new fuel efficient car don't pay off for decades. I could be completely wrong but I thought I read that.

Per this article, a hybrid vs. non-hybrid version of the same car will save enough on gas costs to even out over about 5 years. I'm not up for doing the math to compare, say, a Prius C or Honda fit vs. a junker, but there's probably enough savings for it to make sense if you're driving more than 15,000 miles a year.

Tanglebones wrote:
DSGamer wrote:
Duoae wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

Gas is now over $4 a gallon.

drive 10-year old cars

You know, getting rid of those gas-hungry devices and instead getting newer much more efficient cars would really help in this situation. I realise there's an initial huge investment that needs to be made but, really, 10-yr old cars should not be being used for consistently driving longer distances unless you want to spend a lot of money on unnecessary fuel usage.

I thought there was a study done that said the economic benefits of buying a new fuel efficient car don't pay off for decades. I could be completely wrong but I thought I read that.

Per this article, a hybrid vs. non-hybrid version of the same car will save enough on gas costs to even out over about 5 years. I'm not up for doing the math to compare, say, a Prius C or Honda fit vs. a junker, but there's probably enough savings for it to make sense if you're driving more than 15,000 miles a year.

I think DS was thinking of the somewhat debunked Hummer vs. Prius environmental impact study, which did make a multi-decade claim.

Kraint wrote:

I think DS was thinking of the somewhat debunked Hummer vs. Prius environmental impact study, which did make a multi-decade claim.

Didn't that study focus on the carbon emissions of the vehicles from manufacturing to the junk yard, not the operating cost?

Duoae wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

Gas is now over $4 a gallon.

drive 10-year old cars

You know, getting rid of those gas-hungry devices and instead getting newer much more efficient cars would really help in this situation. I realise there's an initial huge investment that needs to be made but, really, 10-yr old cars should not be being used for consistently driving longer distances unless you want to spend a lot of money on unnecessary fuel usage.

Well I drive a Toyota Corolla that gets between 30-35 MPG, so I certainly don't consider it a gas guzzler. It's also rated as being in good condition according to the dealer I spoke with when I considered buying a new vehicle this year. I just realized that I'd rather pay down all my debt before taking on a new car payment. It's not a clunker, but it's not sexy. True affluence IMHO would allow me to be rolling in a BMW or Lotus like some of my coworkers.

At any rate, I'm not complaining but I also bristle when people call my family "rich" because of our combined incomes. From where I stand, in a HCOL area you can't really afford the middle class lifestyle until you're making at least a combined income of $60K. I know I couldn't for many years. My salary back in 2002 was about 26K and I'm a college grad.

OG_slinger wrote:
Kraint wrote:

I think DS was thinking of the somewhat debunked Hummer vs. Prius environmental impact study, which did make a multi-decade claim.

Didn't that study focus on the carbon emissions of the vehicles from manufacturing to the junk yard, not the operating cost?

The Guardian has an article on the claim. Another, more detailed critique here.

Tanglebones wrote:

Per this article, a hybrid vs. non-hybrid version of the same car will save enough on gas costs to even out over about 5 years. I'm not up for doing the math to compare, say, a Prius C or Honda fit vs. a junker, but there's probably enough savings for it to make sense if you're driving more than 15,000 miles a year.

We're waaaaaay off-topic at this point (though this could make a good new thread), but that study compares buying two new cars. The impact of keeping a car you already own versus the total impact of buying a new hybrid, and all the environmental impact and use of resources its creation entails (a la cash for clunkers), is a very different beast indeed.

Minarchist wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

Per this article, a hybrid vs. non-hybrid version of the same car will save enough on gas costs to even out over about 5 years. I'm not up for doing the math to compare, say, a Prius C or Honda fit vs. a junker, but there's probably enough savings for it to make sense if you're driving more than 15,000 miles a year.

We're waaaaaay off-topic at this point (though this could make a good new thread), but that study compares buying two new cars. The impact of keeping a car you already own versus the total impact of buying a new hybrid, and all the environmental impact and use of resources its creation entails (a la cash for clunkers), is a very different beast indeed.

That's what I was referring to. And I was trying to be on topic in support of an earlier post about driving an older car. I thought there was also a personal ownership benefit (i.e. one car is free and the other requires payments) that outweighed spending money on a new car, but that was the study I was thinking of primarily. I got a little turned around.

My perspective on the matter is simply that people do not know how to handle money.

I was in the military for about 13 years. When I fist got in the only thing I knew about money was that I got almost $400 every 2 weeks and that buys a lot of video games. When I got out I bought a house in cash (1400sqft), I have a truck that I paid cash for and a motorcycle I paid cash for. In those 13 years the most I made in one year was $34,000. I am now unemployed and looking to get a job since I didn't make it into college in time (paperwork snafu).

I would love to make $50k a year.

plavonica:

I'd offer a more stark assessment: some people have forgotten what's important in life.

I consider myself affluent and I make maybe $24,000 a year. Granted, my money goes a longer way towards certain things where I live, but it's still not a whole lot. I live under a roof, I eat daily, and my family does the same. Also, we don't have to go out naked or unprotected against the elements. That's it. Basic money needs met.

I gather that relying on your feet to get you anywhere isn't a plausible solution in some places; in that case, add basic transportation to basic necessities.

LarryC wrote:

plavonica:

I'd offer a more stark assessment: some people have forgotten what's important in life.

Yeah I think that hits closer to what I am getting at.

plavonica wrote:
LarryC wrote:

plavonica:

I'd offer a more stark assessment: some people have forgotten what's important in life.

Yeah I think that hits closer to what I am getting at.

I don't think it's forgetting what's important just to want more than those things, though. Especially from the perspective that kids are one of the biggest ticket items a person can want. An earlier poster mentioned a 5-figure expense per year for his kid's care/education. To do the family thing in America, it's very expensive.

Because of that I guess I've wound up more tolerant of other people's priorities. It would be very easy for me to criticize others for pursuing a family given how expensive it is because it's not a priority for me, but I try not to because I know how much more important it is for them than it is for me. I only try to judge when things get...judgmental?

Compared to the majority of people in the world I live in luxury but the average westerner visiting our tiny house wouldn’t think so. We have one living room to do all our living in. This has the negative psychological effect where you can’t take a break from whatever by stepping into the other room because there is no other room. Unless of course you want to stand in a narrow kitchen next to the sink or sit in the bedroom as if you were sulking.
When I was younger the general attitude was that if you didn't own a TV you MUST be poor. Nowadays everyone I know seems to own a big ass flat screen TV. I was at a children’s party with my son at the house of someone who was struggling for money but could afford a TV that took up most of the room. Not the first time I'd seen this and some American friends tell me stories of people who can only afford to live in trailer parks and yet can fill the insides with an Aladdin’s cave of technology. I returned home scratching my head until my wife pointed out the obvious use of hire purchase. In short they are paying for it many times over and for the rest of their lives.
We don’t have a TV. We have a small screen for the Xbox, a luxury, and another two small screens for two P.C's, again luxuries. My wife’s job has allowed us to pay off the mortgage. Because of her earnings we are able to have a child in our small house, not worry about where the next meal is coming from and buy computer games. It’s all perception. Anyone who visits would see a family living in a tiny house who can’t even afford a TV or holidays abroad every year.
Here’s my view on affluence. The more affluent you are the more choice you have in how you live your life. And yet when I hear very wealthy people bemoaning their fate it’s almost as if they had no choice at all in how they live.
I have a lot of respect for DSGamer. They are doing well and not complaining. They feel blessed. Kudos to them for working hard to get where they are and accepting the pros and cons that come with that lifestyle. No my bafflement comes from those rich I read about who keep complaining about how hard it is for them to keep up their lifestyle. Who forced them into that lifestyle? Who twisted their arm into buying that massive house in that lovely neighbourhood, to go on those holidays abroad, to eat out so much? Here’s where the choice comes in. If the worse happens and you are rich you can always downsize. If you are poor and the worse happens there’s not much further down to go.