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#1 of 109 Old 06-11-2011, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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On the recent welfare thread, another poster said I must be "reasonably wealthy,"  and I don't consider myself reasonably wealthy at all. But it got me wondering, what does that phrase mean to YOU?  Is it a certain amount in assets, a certain income, certain possessions?  Does it have anything to do with how comfortable one is with what they have?

 

Just curious. 

 

Since the thread, I've been trying to figure out what it means to me, and so far all I've got is "about 50K a year more than we make,"  which seems a little vague and unreachable, because I suspect that if we suddenly made 50K a year more, then my target would move to 50K a year more than that number.

 

(Since I would like a new car but can't afford one while paying for my kids to attend private school, and I had to budget shop for summer activities, I don't feel wealthy. If we could afford the private school AND the new car AND a week of horse camp for each kid, AND someone to clean the house, then I might)


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#2 of 109 Old 06-11-2011, 10:04 PM
 
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I guess I really don't know myself. I would say anyone who makes a six figure yearly income or close to that. Or I suppose a person who could walk into a store and not worry about having to budget. Because money just isn't an issue for them I mean in some ways we can do that but it would kill me to do so. 

 

I mean for us yes we have 1 brand new vehicle that we put a good chunk of money down on it and 1 new to us (2007) vehicles but we are far from wealthy IMO. But we also are broke to my standards and in reality we aren't broke but we made choices that in some way needed to be done and we are still adjusting to the higher cost of living here. But I budget everything and all purchases are well thought out before we just go off spending money. So I guess on the outside we could appear to be somewhat wealthy as well. I mean we have one credit card that we use but it gets paid off each month. And outside of car loans, school loans. If we can't pay cash for it we don't buy it like furniture and we shop around. And I don't worry if we can pay X bill and not put food on our table type thing. We live in our means and save and plan. 

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#3 of 109 Old 06-11-2011, 10:38 PM
 
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Not sure what a good exact figure is ... 

 

In my mind, reasonably wealthy would mean after all necessities + extras are taken care of, there's still ample savings -  enough so if one gets laid off, a decent lifestyle can be sustained for a few years, at least.  Truly wealthy means it's feasible to retire now and not to worry about getting another job ever.

 

All very subjective - what are 'extras' or not seem to vary individually and might also change with time for a particular individual.  Similar arguments for 'necessities' probably hold.  

 

Perhaps it's more of a state of mind, perhaps it's more about how one compares their everchanging needs to one's current financial conditions.


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#4 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 12:54 AM
 
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The fact that you can afford to pay for your kids to go to private school means you're reasonably wealthy IMO.  Even if that does mean having to budget elsewhere.  But, as far as I'm concerned the ability to afford private school is definitely a wealth marker.


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#5 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 06:43 AM
 
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The fact that you can afford to pay for your kids to go to private school means you're reasonably wealthy IMO. Even if that does mean having to budget elsewhere. But, as far as I'm concerned the ability to afford private school is definitely a wealth marker.

I don't view this as a wealth marker, more of a priority. I live in an area with troubled public schools. Plenty of parents sacrifice new cars, family vacations, and all "extras" to afford tuition. Some families at our school qualify for the free lunch program, too, yet manage to find the $ to pay tuition. Yet, driving past the public school car line, I've seen BMWs in line. Different folks, different priorities, & each to their own, but, IMO, not necessarily a wealth marker. JMHO.
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#6 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 07:38 AM
 
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From a global perspective, if you're on this forum, you ARE reasonably wealthy.  You either own a computer with internet or have access to one.  That's a big deal in many parts of the world.

 

I know that misses the point of this thread, but that's just to say that wealth is incredibly subjective.  For me, in an American context, I would consider someone reasonably wealthy if they have the ability to buy "extras" indiscriminately.  If someone could go out for a fancy meal, buy clothing at designer retails, etc. with very little thought, deliberation, or anxiety -- I might assume they were wealthy.


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#7 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 07:52 AM
 
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To me reasonably wealthy in the US means you can meet all your family's basic needs (e.g. your kids eat healthy food, they go to school, they have a roof over their head, they have health insurance . . . ) and can make some decisions about luxuries.

 

My son attends some pretty high cost summer camps, and does several afterschool sports that aren't free.  We go out to eat about once a week, and take a short vacation about once a year, we have a dog.

 

On the other hand, we rent a smallish apartment, we drive a much cheaper car than many other families, he goes to public school, I work long hours, we wear cheap clothes . . .

 

I know other families who meet the same basic needs, and choose things I don't have (SAHM, private school, newer car, owning their own home) while not providing things I do provide.  I would say they are reasonably wealthy as well.

 

I would say that a lower middle class family is one who meets all the basic needs, but can afford few to no luxuries, and a working poor family is one who struggles to meet basic needs.

 

I think a "wealthy" family, without the "reasonably" qualifier in front is the one who is able to afford a wide range of luxuries, and doesn't have to think about the choices they make.

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#8 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 09:16 AM
 
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I think it's really relative to where you live... as a pp mentioned, if you are able to be on MDC then generally you are reasonably wealthy compared to the majority of the world. But then our society (talking US/CA here) creates more "needs" which make us feel poorer... plus COL is higher here.

But in the context of just US/CA, I would say 'reasonably wealthy' would mean you can meet all your basic needs (food, shelter), all basic 'wants' (internet, car), and a good number of extras (vacations, dinner out, etc.) without too much concern and with some leftover for savings. I do feel that most people who can afford things like private school, camp, music/dance/etc. classes, etc. would be 'reasonably wealthy' but I also realize many may not be, & may be getting financial assistance, taking large loans, or making major sacrifices to afford it, so we can't always assess based just on what someone appears to afford.

I think almost everyone would say they need 'just $50K more' to feel wealthy, because the more you have, the more you want, and the more you create extra costs -- i.e. people who can't afford an iPod don't have to budget for the cost of downloads, and if you can't afford a fancy restaurant then you don't have to worry about having a nice dress or new jewelry to wear out...

I do not think I am remotely 'wealthy' compared to the people around me. I regularly turn down almost any invitation to do things that cost money (even $2/pp is out of our budget right now!), we don't have any 'extras' (cable, Netflix, gym membership). But we have tons of food in our kitchen. We have 2 cars that run (nothing in walking distance here!). We 'own' our house (well, we have a mortgage, but one day we'll own it!). We have lots of hand-me-downs for DS and a sewing machine to repair my/DH's clothing. DS has lots of toys and we find tons of free activities to do. DH is on unemployment but we are not receiving foodstamps/medical/TANF/etc. We even have money in savings (which may be depleted if DH doesn't find a job soon...) So I feel content with what we have and happy with the lifestyle we live. Sure, I wish I could afford Music Together for DS. I wish we could eat out once every week or two, or buy pine nuts ($8/bag!!! that's crazy!!), or put flooring in the bedroom (it's just subflooring right now). It would be great to not have to compare the prices of beans to get the one that will save us 10 cents. But really, we have everything we need and some of what we want, so in mind, we're wealthy. orngbiggrin.gif
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#9 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 11:05 AM
 
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The fact that you can afford to pay for your kids to go to private school means you're reasonably wealthy IMO.  Even if that does mean having to budget elsewhere.  But, as far as I'm concerned the ability to afford private school is definitely a wealth marker.


I know folks that live in apartments and never take summer vacations to afford private school... so no.. this is not a marker for me.


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#10 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 11:30 AM
 
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I wish we were what I would consider reasonably wealthy. shrug.gif

Of course, it's all a matter of perspective - wealth, rich, well-off, even being comfortable is dependent on different variables and personal situations.

I can define low-income, lower-middle class, middle class, and upper-middle class with monetary figures/assets, but wealthy and rich aren't as clear cut, IMO.

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#11 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The fact that you can afford to pay for your kids to go to private school means you're reasonably wealthy IMO.  Even if that does mean having to budget elsewhere.  But, as far as I'm concerned the ability to afford private school is definitely a wealth marker.




I know folks that live in apartments and never take summer vacations to afford private school... so no.. this is not a marker for me.

 


I'm really amazed at the sacrifices that some of the parents make to have their kids there. I know lots of people who could "never afford" private school who have FAR more money. I'm not saying private school should be a priority for other families, just that it really isn't a marker of affluence.

 


 

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I can define low-income, lower-middle class, middle class, and upper-middle class with monetary figures/assets, but wealthy and rich aren't as clear cut, IMO.


 

go ahead! I'd esp. love to hear where you put the line between middle class and upper-middle class.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#12 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 12:20 PM
 
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I think there are two aspects to this.  There's quantifiable wealth - having a lot in comparison to your neighbors, your country, or the world.  And there's unquantifiable wealth - having more than enough to meet your needs and be happy in the lifestyle you've chosen.  We make very little money, but have chosen a very cheap lifestyle.  The same is true for many of our friends/neighbors.  There are no private schools or expensive activities in my town, so that doesn't come up.  We are happy, and if I could wave a magic wand, I'd ask for more time before more money.  So maybe it's possible to be "reasonably wealthy" even with an income near the poverty line. 

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#13 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 12:26 PM
 
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This seems to be roughly on par with how I think of upper middle class:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_middle_class_in_the_United_States

 

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Sociologists Dennis Gilbert, Willam Thompson and Joseph Hickey estimate the upper middle class to constitute roughly 15% of the population. Using the 15% figure one may conclude that the American upper middle class consists, strictly in an income sense, of professionals with personal incomes in excess of $62,500, who commonly reside in households with six figure incomes.[1][6][13][16] The difference between personal and household income can be explained by considering that 76% of households with incomes exceeding $90,000 (the top 20%) had two or more income earners.[13]

 

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#14 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 12:31 PM
 
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The fact that you can afford to pay for your kids to go to private school means you're reasonably wealthy IMO.  Even if that does mean having to budget elsewhere.  But, as far as I'm concerned the ability to afford private school is definitely a wealth marker.




I know folks that live in apartments and never take summer vacations to afford private school... so no.. this is not a marker for me.

 


I get what you're saying - but to someone who lives in an apartment, never takes summer vacations and still can barely afford public school, that would still seem "reasonably wealthy", yk?

 

I think terms such as "reasonably wealthy" are incredibly subjective. Someone upthread said a six figure income. DH is close to that - not there, but close. We're renting a townhouse in the cheapest non-subsidized complex in our municipality, and we couldn't afford to buy even a shack around here. OTOH, we were able to buy a brand-new minivan a year and a half ago, which means "reasonably wealthy", imo (nobody in my family of origin has ever bought a brand new car). OTOH, it was the cheapest minivan on the market, and it hurt us financially pretty badly, and we only went for it, because of a combination of wanting to be under warranty, not dealing with the likelihood of huge, unexpected repair bills, and it was available on a three year, interest free financing. We figured we could take the hit for three years, even if it hurt.

 

So, again...subjective. Is a new car a marker for "reasonably wealthy"? Is the fact that I'm a SAHM a marker (even though I probably couldn't earn enough to cover childcare, let alone other extras)? It's just such a subjective term. For ourselves, we're far ahead of many of our neighbours (in the complex we live in, I mean), but pretty much poverty-stricken by comparison to other people on our block (who are sitting on homes worth well over a half million dollars). We have money to burn compared to my sister, but probably aren't as well off as my brother. You know...it's all relative.

 

We can afford to pay the basics, and go out for an occasional dinner at a family restaurant (occasional meaning for birthdays and then maybe 2-3 times a year on top of that). We haven't taken a summer vacation in years, but may take one this year....but it will be less than a week, and only camping locally. There's no way we could even begin to pay for an actual trip anywhere that involved flying. We spend almost nothing on clothes (in the last year, I've bought one cheap dress, one pair of $15 shoes, five pairs of pants and three shirts, and dh has bought less than that...not sure we've bought any clothes for the kids, except for winter jackets). DH and the kids get infrequent haircuts at the salon across the street - I haven't had a haircut in 20+ years, and don't intend to ever get one again. We don't have a lot of savings. I wouldn't call us "reasonably wealthy", but we're also far from poor (btdt - it sucked). I have very few complaints...although it would be nice to have a yard...


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This seems to be roughly on par with how I think of upper middle class:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_middle_class_in_the_United_States

 

 


I guess I still don't see how this kind of thing can be quantified. A single person making $65,000 - or a couple/family making $90,000 - might be able to buy an apartment here, but that's about it...and it would likely be a one bedroom. In North American society, I can't reasonably call someone who can't buy a "starter" house "upper middle class", yk?

 


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#16 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 01:37 PM
 
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This is an interesting question and one that I have been asking myself for the last few years. I grew up on welfare, food stamps and getting donations from the food bank. So my child-self would look at my now-self and think that I was super rich! I have a new-ish car, live in a nice rental duplex, always have whatever food I want in the fridge, and if there was ever an emergency, I could scrape enough money to pull through. However, I'm the sole breadwinner in our family, we have some debt, and I don't think we'll have enough money for at least 10 years or so to be able to buy our own home.  So, my point is that I can't even agree with my past and present self about what wealthy is!

 

One thing I've always found interesting is the social pressure to claim "middle class." Poorer families often try to downplay their struggles, and wealthier families often try to downplay their wealth. Obviously, this is a big generalization, but I have found it very common. I wonder if anyone has ever looked at the statistics of how many families are really considered "middle class" compared to how many claim "middle class." 


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#17 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 02:13 PM
 
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 I'm not saying private school should be a priority for other families, just that it really isn't a marker of affluence.

 

 

this is very subjective to your area??

 

not in mine, the mere fact that you could even budget to allow for a non-public education is affluent in my area-many private schools are hurting and enrollment is way down, we have no charter school alternatives because the demand in not there

 

as far as private goes you have very little resources for aid (over 6th grade and very little for elementary or middle level) but mostly it is not at all within reach of the average family (in my area) to allow any budgeting to even think of enrollment no matter what you take it from 

 

it would definitely be viewed as affluent in my area (and I did do private school with my one child-but it was in a different area)

 

my DH makes over $20000 more than the average for our area and we not affluent (nor are we view as it-in this area)


 

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#18 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 02:17 PM
 
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The fact that you can afford to pay for your kids to go to private school means you're reasonably wealthy IMO.  Even if that does mean having to budget elsewhere.  But, as far as I'm concerned the ability to afford private school is definitely a wealth marker.




I know folks that live in apartments and never take summer vacations to afford private school... so no.. this is not a marker for me.

 


No matter what we did, what sacrifices we made there's no way we could afford to send even one of our two girls to private school.  And I know I'm not alone!

 


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#19 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 02:47 PM
 
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The fact that you can afford to pay for your kids to go to private school means you're reasonably wealthy IMO.  Even if that does mean having to budget elsewhere.  But, as far as I'm concerned the ability to afford private school is definitely a wealth marker.



I agree and disagree.  If you are really broke then I can see that it would look this way for sure.  Otoh, there are people who put education as their very top priority and are making huge sacrifices elsewhere.  I do not consider us to be poor, but we live paycheck to paycheck, barely.  This pay period we ran out of money like 9 days before payday.  We have the water shut off every few months bc we just don't have the cash on time.  I always have to call the electric to make payment arrangements.  I cannot shop at wholefoods.  We share one car, bought used, a 2001, so I have to drive dh to work.  I have a lot of dental work I *need* to have done and I'm very likely going to loose those teeth because I don't have the money to do it.  But, we do spend $750/mo on Milo's montessori.  I can't see thinking of myself as "reasonably wealthy."  But when I was a kid we were dirt poor, and I know we aren't there either.  


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#20 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 02:48 PM
 
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No matter what we did, what sacrifices we made there's no way we could afford to send even one of our two girls to private school.  And I know I'm not alone!

 



Same here. 

 

Wealth is subjective. Objectively, I am not wealthy. I don't own a car, and we don't go on holidays. Budgeting is something I can't avoid. Yet, I consider myself rich in many ways other than monetary. Compared to how I grew up, my kids are comfortable. They have access to fancy toys I never had, our fridge is always stocked, and with good foods, and we go out to cultual events and dinner all the time. Our life is free from financial worries despite the fact that I only work a couple of hours a day, because I chose to live in a developing country with a developed-country income. Time - concretely, my children's childhoods - is much more valuable than financial wealth.

 

But of course, there are many things that we could never afford with all the budgeting in the world, and that definitely includes private school. I recently looked up the fees, and they are astronomical where we live. Then again, if we went to live in, let's say, India with my current income, I might be able to pull it off. 


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#21 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 02:50 PM
 
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And being able to afford private school would depend on how many kids you have as well, of course. 


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#22 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 02:58 PM
 
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I consider reasonably wealthy to be when someone is able to afford to feed, clothe, and shelter their family to a standard that is healthy (although not necessarily optimally healthy like all organic...).  I think that in the west even many "poor" people are "reasonably wealthy". 

 

As far as what I think an upper-middle-class person is (which is maybe more on par with what others are answering for "reasonably wealthy") it is feeding, clothe-ing and sheltering the family along with doing extras like summer camp and activities and possibly private school (although depending on the school, that could be in the reach of less wealthy people). 

 

Storm Bride - I find it interesting that I must live less than an hour and a half from you and can afford way more than you can with a much lower income.  I know real estate in Vancouver is outlandishly expensive, but if you really do want a more relaxed lifestyle look farther down the valley.  We made that choice when we got married and while our income is lower, costs are much lower.

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#23 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 03:29 PM
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My friend's family (married couple, 4 kids, wants another) is moving at the end of summer from RI to MO. For the same amount they are currently paying in rent, they will be almost doubling the size of their house, upgrading from a postage-stamp yard to a gorgeous fenced-in yard, and will also be able to afford the occasional housecleaning help.
 

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#24 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 03:39 PM
 
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jaw.gif I just looked up private school tuitions in my state and they range from $9000-43000/year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mostly on the high end of that!!

OK I cannot imagine being able to afford even the low end of that, for even one kid, no matter WHAT sacrifices we made... Unless maybe those sacrifices included foregoing a home to move into a cardboard box on the side of the road...

But you never know how much debt someone is taking on... or how well or poorly they manage money... things aren't always what they seem...

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#25 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

jaw.gif I just looked up private school tuitions in my state and they range from $9000-43000/year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mostly on the high end of that!!
 


My kids school, even for highschool, cost less the the least expensive private school in your state. They do a great job with kids with mild special needs and 2E kids, and the parents who are making the biggest sacrifices to have a child there have kids who simply cannot be served well by public school (which are very badly funded and overcrowded here). One is a single mom, who's DD has Aspergers' and they live in tiny apartment and the mom drives a car that looks like it is about to fall apart.  So yes, the mom has more money than someone who can't afford the school but still lives in a tiny apartment and drives a falling apart car, but she isn't wealthy.

 

BUT that does explain why someone would assume that I'm "reasonably wealthy" since my kids are in private school.

 

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's responses and the links on Wikepedia.

 

The cost of living thing is part of what keeps me from feeling 'wealthy.'  We've lived all over with DH's job, and I see what we have as so relative. I so many people with less, but many people with more. The amount of money my DH makes  goes a long way in some places, and not so far in others. 

 

I just feel middle.  shrug.gif

 

I'm starting think I just don't like the word "wealthy."  It doesn't seem to mean anything but "more than I have."

 

I do, however, feel very blessed. Mostly to have my sweet children, and second to have a sweet relationship with my DH. And I also feel blessed that while we need to make choices with our money, we GET to make choices. We have a certain amount of power and control over our lives because we have enough to money to decide what is most important to us. I feel blessed.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#26 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 05:15 PM
 
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It really depends so much on where you are -

 

just an example - this is a private (non-religious and yes, they are cheaper) -

 

http://www.blair.edu/Admissions/ad_financial_info.shtm   -private

 

http://www.stmarys1.org/17.html   -religious in the same area as the private school

 

vs income for the state - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey_locations_by_per_capita_income

 

 

 

 


 

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#27 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 07:33 PM
 
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I think it comes down to how much choice you have - the wealthier you are, the more choice you have.  So, I think being relatively wealthy means being able to choose more than someone who has less economic freedom.  How that looks is going to differ by context (ie average person in a developing nation versus an average person in Brentwood, California).  I think the critical piece is degree of choice/control.

 

 

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Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#28 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 10:36 PM
 
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For me, it's about having choices. Do you have choices about where you spend your money? Then you are reasonably well off. Wealthy, I would probably define as having considerable disposable income each month. We fit in the former category, but not the latter.

 

For example, dh and I have a choice about where dh works. He currently works for himself, about 30+ hours a week. If he were to be employed by a company, he'd probably make 3x what he makes for himself. But working for himself gives him, and thus our whole family, incredible flexibility. He's home when the kids get home from school. If the kids get sick, I don't have to take off work (some days that would be no problem, some days that would be nearly impossible). He was available to cart ds to baseball. He could volunteer 2x a week after school for 10 weeks. Other kids in the neighborhood come hang out here because they know an adult is home (and reasonably enough, they're not allowed to hang out at houses with no adult). Thus, we've made the choice for lower income and greater flexibility.

 

If we wanted to, we could choose to send our children to private schools. But it would be a choice that would most likely entail my dh getting a 40 hour+ a week job. Private elementary schools range from $4,000 - $20,000, and private high schools from $11,000-$24,000. Even if dh got a full time well paying job, the upper end schools would be a big stretch.

 

But the thing is that we have the choice to make. Many families in our kids' elementary school do not have any choice. The choices they're making are whether to keep the power or the water on this month. We're not faced with that choice, and thus I would say our family is comfortable, but not wealthy. (We drive a 13 year old car, and we have only one, for example. That's another choice we've made.)


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#29 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 10:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

jaw.gif I just looked up private school tuitions in my state and they range from $9000-43000/year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mostly on the high end of that!!

Yep, one of my friends with two kids in a pricey private school put it this way .....its like buying a new mini-van every year that you don't get to keep.
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#30 of 109 Old 06-12-2011, 11:12 PM
 
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I've never heard the phrase "reasonably wealthy" before. Does that mean rich? I think that Lyns6  is on the right track when she writes about choices.

 

I think having choices is a good definition of wealth, being rich and lack of choices is a fundamental part of poverty.

 

There's a phrase that I've heard and I googled around and found it's from the Talmud [forgive the non-gender-neutral language]: "“He who is rich is one who is content with his lot”

http://blog.beliefnet.com/virtualtalmud/2006/11/he-who-is-rich.html

 

So, since I am basically content w/ my lot, I am rich. Some people may have more choices and more discretionary income than me, but are not content w/ what they have, so they are not as rich as me.

 

The opposite of being rich is being poor. This blog posting "Being Poor" made the rounds on the Internet several years ago. It starts off "Being poor is knowing exactly how much things cost". Some of the stuff on that list  I've experienced, but most (thankfully) I have not. It helps remind me of how very rich I am.

 

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor/

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