Why is it that people who are well off never seem to understand that most people can’t afford to live life like they do? Most of the time, I’m sure rich people mean well inviting you to an event every week and expecting you to pay for it. I mean, they are just ensuring that you don’t suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) in the long run. Good looking out rich folk, thanks!
The following AskRedditors responded to the question, “What is an unrealistic expectation people with a lot of money have of people who are not as well off financially?”
For more responses, you can find the original thread at the end of the article.
My in-laws have been self-employed for about 15 years, and are pretty well off financially. They’ve gotten completely oblivious to how much things actually cost now. Every time my wife brings up our (not so major) financial troubles, they love to talk about how easy it is to raise a family making $11 an hour like they did years ago. They actually seem shocked that cost of living has increased since 1994 which they refer to as “just a few years back”.
Buying gifts for every occasion. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, baby showers, wedding showers, engagements, graduations. With all of the people in my life, I honestly don’t have the money to get gifts for every little milestone or special occasion. I love my family and friends, but it always makes me feel like crap when I can’t afford a gift for them when everyone else seems to be able to.
Buying everything without having to look at the price tag.
My boss expected everyone to be prepared to telecommute with no support from the organization. He doesn’t realize, we have some customer service team members who don’t have a computer or the internet at home. I realize, having a computer and the internet is not restricted to the wealthy, but it does show you what most of us take for granted.
I was poor and went to a very nice college on a scholarship. Said college was attended by primarily rich kids from Long Island. The biggest thing most of them failed to understand was that I was poor because my parents were poor, too. Whenever I said I couldn’t afford something, they’d just ask “why can’t you just ask your parents for the money?” In their universe, parents were never poor and were a constant source of free cash.
I have well off friends who think nothing of dropping $100 or even $50 on a night out and are surprised when I say I can’t go out with them.
Assuming everyone has social mobility. No, I can’t just take the risk of moving away and trying to find another job, if it doesn’t work out fast, I’ll end up homeless…
W E D D I N G S. People who are well off register for more expensive things, have destination weddings, and several parties to attend (engagement party, shower, bachelor/bachelorette, wedding).
The people in bridal parties pay a huge bill too. They have to host events at pricier spots, give gifts, have to stay in the hotel at the destination wedding, women have to pay for more expensive dresses, hair, makeup, lashes….it’s intense. I was a matron of honor in a wedding like this and I didn’t bring a gift, but gave a card. I’m positive the bride was pissed.
I’d say the expectation that they should just work hard and become successful. Some people work hard all their lives and for myriad reasons never succeed. Others of us get handed a lot of money and never succeed either; it’s just a lot harder to fail and for us “failure” just means never getting wealthier.
Being well-travelled. I was guilty of considering people who have never been abroad as being insular and even dull. I failed to appreciate how I could simply afford to do it and that it is a luxury not available to everyone.
I was a kid from a poor family who went to a high school of fairly well-off people. Some things I’ll always remember:
-People assumed the only reason I hadn’t ever traveled out of state was that my family was uncultured.
-They assumed I didn’t go out to eat with them and would go get $2 of fast food instead because I had no taste.
-Everybody believed the reason I did no extracurriculars at all was that I was anti-social or lazy, not because they all cost money.
-People thought I rode the bus and never got a license because I was odd or something, not because my family didn’t have a functional vehicle.
-A girl who gave me her phone number thought the reason I never called was that I didn’t like her when the reality was our home phone had been shut off for six months due to past due bills.
Really, just the idea of what constitutes basic life experiences differs so much between people who are even middle class and people who are poor.
The rich guy in charge of mergers and acquisitions at a mid-sized dot com I used to work at saw my coworker pull into the parking lot with his 10-year old Ford Mustang. My coworker was not that well off and was a bit underpaid in his position at the time. Rich dude walks into the building with my co-worker and says, “so, you like collecting Mustangs? I got a few myself.”
That is my coworker’s only car.
The rich man’s default assumption is that other people all have more than what they are showing. They have to be told, “No, this is my only car/suit/watch/vacation.” But saying that feels bad so, like my coworker, we just nod and let the rich guys keep talking about their collections.
“Sure, I’ll take a month off work to travel around Europe with you.”
That anything that comes easy for them comes as easy for everybody else. That everybody is as confident and comfortable with asserting themselves as they are. That everybody has the energy to pursue their goals with the same tenacity as those who have access to air-conditioning in the summer, shoes that don’t hurt your feet, actual nutritious food, a doctor only a phone call away and a family to share their burdens with.
When you have that kind of support in your life, even tough decisions and demanding situations can be quite doable.
In contrast, a close relative of mine just lost her house in a fire, her husband died mysteriously in elderly care, she recently had hip surgery and lives on a very small pension. She gets up every morning and keeps her life more or less in order. That, in my humble opinion, is proof of an inner strength several orders of magnitude above the successful people half her age who boast about their discipline on Instagram whenever they’ve lost ten pounds dieting.
(Not that there’s anything wrong with dieting, but, perspective, folks!)
People are poor because they spend their money the wrong way or they haven’t put enough effort into their education. Or that they “deserve” to be poor based on their actions.
How tenuous it all is. One car accident that renders me or my husband unable to work, and it all falls apart. We need both incomes to keep our house, cars, insurance – all of it. If we lose one income, the rest would all disappear, too. Yes, we could downsize and get by, but the point is that one accident or health crisis could really screw us over. If you don’t have family money to prop you up, those things are life-altering.
I used to go out for dinner occasionally with an exceedingly wealthy friend.
But when the bill came, he’d always expect me to pick up the tab – as if it were a privilege, as a person of relatively humble means, to be in the company of such a successful, affluent person.
“Just go to the doctor!”
Splitting the dinner tab evenly, even though some people bought more expensive food and drinks.
They forget almost everything is a tradeoff between time and money. Sure, you can save money by fixing your car yourself. But you have to spend a lot of your time to make up the difference. Same thing with cooking for yourself or most other things richer people point at and say, “You could save money by…”
Since time is a limited resource in any life, poor people are frequently forced into the position of choosing a more expensive option, whether they want to or not.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that everyone expects you to have that classic college experience. I’m going into my 3rd year of college and school is more of a job for me. I’m not in any clubs, I go to school 2-3 times a week, and I commute over an hour. But my few friends who live on or close to campus are appalled that I’m not getting that “college experience.” I wanted it, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just not in the cards for me.
Raising children is a massive financial strain. Childcare alone accounts for an inane portion of some people’s paychecks, and can’t just leave one member of the family at home.
That even with financial assistance and grants there are not enough scholarships for everyone to go to college. Got all B-‘s in high school? No 3.0? Well damn.
Rich people don’t seem to understand what an insane expense kids are for the lower classes. They think poor people will just get social security, Medicaid, and food stamps and they’ll be fine. Wrong.