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To wonder how so many people seem to have so many nice things?

(134 Posts)
QwangleWangle Wed 08-May-13 11:55:09

I'm sure I'll get told it's none of my business but here goes...

So many people that I know seem to have so many nice things, and so much money, and to be honest it confuses the heck out of me as to how they afford it. We have 3 children, we both work and our income is fairly high but we can't afford the things that some people seem to afford easily.

To give a couple of examples:

A friend of mine works part time as a teacher, so obviously doesn't earn a fortune. Her husband has started a business, about 2 years ago, and my friend says it's not making any money yet. They live in a massive house, worth over 350k, all beautifully furnished. Cath Kidston this. Laura Ashley that. Loads of Next furniture. That kind of thing. I saw her yesterday and she had her 2 DCs with her on their bikes and I said I liked their bike helmets and she told me that each helmet was a whopping £50!! She has also said before their weekly food shop is over £200. I just don't know how they afford it. They don't exactly skimp on things for themselves either and have plenty of clothes and holidays.

Another friend, who is a stay at home mum, and whose DP works in a factory, posted this morning on her Facebook that she was "road testing the new Cath Kidston bedding". Which isn't cheap. She has one baby girl and seems to have so many nice things for her baby; a brand new bugaboo, expensive nursery furniture, designer clothes for the baby. And then lots of nice stuff for herself too. She's always spending money in Topshop, River Island, Monsoon, and those kinds of shops. Never Primark or New Look or anywhere budget.

I'm just fascinated really and am wondering if we're missing a trick to afford all these nice things. As I said, we earn well but our bedding was £12 in Asda, the kids wear Primark and George clothes, and I can't afford to spend anywhere near £200 on a weekly supermarket shop!!

Primrose123 Wed 08-May-13 12:21:46

Perhaps they have interest only mortgages. That makes a huge difference.

squeakytoy Wed 08-May-13 12:23:10

You seem to know far too much about your friends' spending habits and apparent income, without actually knowing what is in their bank accounts.

And it really is none of your business either. Why does it bother you so much?

dreamingbohemian Wed 08-May-13 12:23:22

The thing that strikes me in your examples is that your friends don't have childcare costs, whereas you do. That potentially frees up a lot of money, if they have decent deals as far as housing costs.

jacks365 Wed 08-May-13 12:25:02

Sometimes people have income you don't know about. Myself and a good friend are both sahm and single parents and if you hear that you would assume benefits but its not the case. She's a widow and her husband had a really good job so they had good life insurance policies both work and private so she has a good income and no mortgage, i'm a divorcee but we ran our own successful company and i was bought out on divorce, i invested sensibly rather than spending and live within my means easily what it does mean is when i do go back to work then that is surplus cash even if its nmw. I've had comments from people who don't know my background as the assumption is i'm fiddling the system somehow. Sometimes people inherit money and use it wisely.

There are lots of reasons people appear to have more money than you think they should.

QwangleWangle Wed 08-May-13 12:25:02

Dreaming, the first friend, who is a part time teacher, has childcare costs, as her DH is working on his business 5 days a week and can't have the kids.

I don't have childcare costs either, as I do my hours during the evening and at some weekends. I might work the occasional school day and put the kids into after-school club but this doesn't cost much

dreamingbohemian Wed 08-May-13 12:26:02

Also you can get so much nice stuff very cheaply these days on ebay, freecyle, etc.

I have some very expensive-ish clothes for my DS but they are all free hand me downs from the posh wing of the family smile or gifts from grandparents. I would hate for people to see my DS in them and think I'm in debt over it. We're just lucky.

TantrumsAndBalloons Wed 08-May-13 12:26:43

If they both work OP then that may be how they afford it?

Maybe they don't have childcare costs anymore, our disposable income shot up when the youngest was out of childcare.

Maybe they were saving for years.

Or maybe, they just earn enough money to maintain the standard of living they enjoy, without going into debt? Plenty of people do.

But it seems a bit taboo these days to admit you spend more than £20 a week in Aldi and like nice things? And can afford to buy them without sitting in the cold all winter.

dreamingbohemian Wed 08-May-13 12:27:16


ok never mind the childcare angle! smile

TantrumsAndBalloons Wed 08-May-13 12:28:16

X post about childcare costs there sad

But maybe the reason people can afford nice things then is because both parents work more hours than you and your DH?

uncongenial Wed 08-May-13 12:28:23

Why would somebody post on Facebook that they have new bedding, whatever the brand? Is it supposed to impress confused And how do you know the cost of everything? Why do they share this information anyway? I don't know anybody who does that.

Some people have private incomes, investments, or perhaps just haven't divulged their exact income to you, in answer to your question.

MortifiedAdams Wed 08-May-13 12:28:40

OP, the one who has his own business - she says they arent making money yet - maybe he pays himself a salary, and they have yet to make any actual profit over costs yet? A PT teacher will be on 18k at least surely?

caramelwaffle Wed 08-May-13 12:29:46

Low, or no housing costs except Council tax and ultilities.

Thinking particularly of collegues in my area/dept. at work - they all have no, or low mortgages, most have other owned-outright investment properties and the young'uns live at home with mum and dad able to save £1000-£1500 per month.

This is not a City job.

PosyNarker Wed 08-May-13 12:30:13

There are all kinds of reasons. I had a conversation with an ex colleague who kept asking how I could afford x or y (bit cheeky, but there your go).

Lower mortgage than you think? I got on the property market when many of friends didn't feel ready to buy or were struggling for a deposit. I went out less then & have more ready cash now.

Different priorities? A friend of mine goes on 3 fortnight long holidays a year, one of which is usually skiing and another long haul. I suspect our households have a similar income, hers possibly slightly higher. She 'couldn't afford' my house (has a flat) and I 'couldn't afford' her holidays.

They buy more expensive but buy less? I once proved to my mother that despite shopping in places she deems expensive, I spend less than she does on clothes because I buy less 'stuff' overall.

Everything bought on HP? Purchases put through the business books to avoid VAT? Company car? I could have a brand new Merc or A4 sitting t the front if I wanted to pay the bloody tax on it and you'd never know it wasn't mine...

LtEveDallas Wed 08-May-13 12:30:57

LtEveDallas Are you serious? That would be nosy

Yes I'm serious, no need for the hmm face. OP calls these two people 'friends'. If they are friends why can't OP just say "Ohh I am soooo jealous of your Cath Kidson duvet. Where did you get it from? Was it on special offer because I couldn't afford anything so lovely" or "Ohh you've got so many lovely things, how do you pay for it all? Have you got any tips for me?"

If they are friends, then that is just conversation. If they aren't friends, then how would you know their income/expenditure etc to comment?

BrianButterfield Wed 08-May-13 12:32:29

I don't understand how people on here are buying £100+ boots etc like it's a regular thing. We have a very healthy income and spare cash but there's still no way I could afford those. Same with new Isabella oliver maternity clothes and so on - and they're this season's, not from eBay. Although nobody I know IRL buys them either, it's Peacocks and New Look all the way!

CockyFox Wed 08-May-13 12:35:37

We have lots of nice things but we are bargain hunters and very rarely pay full price for anything.
Yes we have a low income (less than 18, 000 including tax credits) we live to our means so never go overdrawn and never have much left at end of month but no debt except mortgage.
I think this because I SAH so no childcare costs, I grow almost all our veg which saves a lot more money than you might think, we don't drink, smoke orr holiday abroad.

redskyatnight Wed 08-May-13 12:36:12

Interesting post OP - have to admit I feel this too - that some people who in theory should have less income than us seem to be able to spend much more.

Based on people I know
- no savings or pensions (whereras we pay a chunk into both)
- no or small mortgage (because they bought ages ago, or parents have helped out massively)
- Credit cards or hire purchase
- Very generous presents from family (e.g. one friend’s parents bought her a PS3 for her birthday, mine more likely to buy a bottle of wine)
- Family that regularly buy bits and pieces e.g. things for the children, or pay for their holiday.

higgle Wed 08-May-13 12:36:20

I wonder this too, but our income is run down by funding student children and we do prioritise holidays, so I expect that is why some people we know have more plush houses and better cars. We also save up for our cars and some people we know have them on lease or PCP which costs less on a month by month basis.

I expect there have been times in the past when our apparent affluence has surprised people ( sadly, not anymore) this was when we had a couple of small inheritances and some nice payouts from old insurance policies or building society privitisations.

shufflehopstep Wed 08-May-13 12:37:29

Buying houses is down to timing. If they bought their house more than 10 years ago, they would have got a much better deal than buying the same one now. The same goes for mortgages, if they got a good deal, they could be paying less than you think. With other things, it's just down to priorities. They might scrimp on things that you think of as essentials in order to have the money to buy other things that you think of as luxuries.

If you have an OK salary and haven't lost your job, interest rates have come down so if you're careful with your regular bills and weekly shop, you might have done OK during the credit crunch. We did up until we had DD and I went on mat leave and DH was made redundant.

dreamingbohemian Wed 08-May-13 12:38:05

LtEve I do find this a bit weird as well -- if I know people well enough to know their spending habits, then I usually know them well enough to hazard a guess as to where their money comes from, or how they were able to buy things cheaply.

ChairmanoftheBored Wed 08-May-13 12:40:06

Its true that its not a pleasant thing to do, to look at what other people have and compare, but I think most people are guilty of this. I know I am, and it doesn't make you a horrible person unless you are open about your envy in RL!
I often look around me and feel like the poor relation. However I do think that debt does pay a huge role in how much money people appear to have. We have just our mortgage to pay off and no other debt. This is mostly down to our dislike of borrowing.
When you got on the housing ladder makes a difference too. My ds and her husband bought in 1998 and made a huge profit and now live in a fabulous house that I can only dream of. My dh and I on the other hand live in a small 3 bed in a crappy area, and face the prospect of probably never moving to a bigger house.
Still I do feel very fortunate though, as life is a lot tougher for so many people at the moment.

QwangleWangle Wed 08-May-13 12:40:18

BrianButterfield, I agree about the Isabella Oliver maternity clothes. I was pregnant with DC3 when two other friends were having their third children too. My maternity gear was from Ebay, they both bought capsule wardrobes from IO, spending £400+ each

cantspel Wed 08-May-13 12:40:22

A friend of mine had just under £10k in a PPI payout. She spent it all on treats and crap within the year. She still has the crap and now struggles to pay her rent.

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 08-May-13 12:40:39

Pot farming in loft? There's an app to check how hot lofts are......

Maybe ;)

QwangleWangle Wed 08-May-13 12:41:19

I can't see what is unpleasant about looking at what others have and comparing. It's human nature, surely? And I can think many far, far worse things to do!

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