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Why I Feel Filthy Fucking Rich

I recently went adventuring with some friends. As we were sitting in a hot spring at the end of a long day spent rock climbing in a national park (because we’re like biscotti: glamorous and crunchy), we started talking about money. My favorite topic!

None of these particular friends know about this blog. They don’t know I research money stuff and answer questions about personal finance for fun. So, in the tradition of thirsty voyeurs everywhere, I sat back to listen as my friends talked about negotiating higher salaries and faking it till you make it and—wait, hiring a maid? Ok, so there were clearly some differences in perspective. We’ll come back to that.

One of my friends proudly revealed that she is now making $130k a year at her new job. Babies, I am thrilled for her. She works super damn hard and she’s gifted and brilliant. But what happened next gave me pause.

“Your husband’s an art director, right? So he must be making pretty good money too by now,” I asked.

“Oh no. He only makes $70k a year. And he has student loans,” she answered, sincerely.

That response really took me back for a moment. Because fam… she was describing me exactly. I also make about $70k a year (at two whole jobs). And I also started my career with student loans. Yet I don’t feel like what I have is an “only.”

As a matter of fact, I feel filthy fucking rich.

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And that's when I strangled him, your honor.

The Subjectivity of Wealth, Or: Don’t Tell Me What’s Expensive

Wealth is entirely subjective. Depending on where you’re sitting on the great Staircase of Financial Solvency, your perspective of who’s wealthy and what’s expensive is going to vary wildly.

Because of this disparity, the definition of “expensive” truly depends on an individual’s personal money situation. Someone who makes $300K a year and can easily afford their rent and insurance isn’t going to think twice about buying cage free eggs, organic milk, and grass-fed beef. Meanwhile, their neighbor who makes $30K a year is going to be buying the practically expired store brand milk on sale. To them, the whole concept of buying organic, cruelty-free food seems absurdly out of reach even while their wealthier neighbor finds it “inexpensive.”

Which is why it’s about as irritating as a Spotify Premium commercial to hear people speak authoritatively about what’s expensive and what’s not. Especially when their version of “expensive” is a diamond encrusted dog manicure and yours is a Whole Foods grapefruit.

Lemme ‘splain.

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