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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!!

BrianButterfield Wed 08-May-13 12:41:21

Some people have extraordinarily generous families (and rarely appreciate just how generous!) - for example, my friend's grandma bought him a brand-new car (which he complains about). Nobody will ever, ever buy me a car. I've known parents buy top-of-the-range buggies, nursery furniture,'s not fair angry

stopgap Wed 08-May-13 12:45:24

Home equity loans
Credit card debt
Second-hand or sale purchases etc.

I wonder this a bit, too, on FB. On face value, people don't seem to make a lot of money, but they can afford multiple trips overseas, post pictures of brand new cars and prams etc. Then again, I think working-class pride has always been about putting your best foot forward (I say this as the product of a working-class, northern family, and my dad delights in telling me about his hand-made mohair suits in the 1960s, that cost a significant part of his weekly salary).

QwangleWangle Wed 08-May-13 12:45:46

That's a good point that my friend's husband may be drawing a salary even though there is no profit. I can't remember who mentioned it, but yes that is probably the case.

Naoko Wed 08-May-13 12:45:57

Could be debt, could be priorities. DP and I don't earn a lot. Neither do most of our friends. We are the only ones out of our friend group who go away on holiday abroad - it's important to us, we love it, so we cut corners elsewhere to afford it. But all my clothes come from Tesco, DP will only clothes shop under extreme duress, I have a handbag and two pairs of shoes (one for everyday, one for parties and formal occasions) rather than a collection, we don't smoke or drink, and we don't run a car, which are all things my friends do differently. We don't have any debt, and I'd never get into any to afford luxuries.

I know it surprises people though, that we travel so much - it's not something seen as affordable for people in our socioeconomic bracket.

caramelwaffle Wed 08-May-13 12:46:48

LteEve you make a good point.

My colleagues and friends are very open about their finances (and I know the pay scale from our jobs anyway)

MumnGran Wed 08-May-13 12:48:05

I would agree with everyone who has talked about differing priorities, about writing off purchases against the husbands company etc etc ....but also think that people are prepared to tolerate varying levels of debt.

Many years ago, I felt much as the OP - struggling to pay mortgage etc (back in the bad old days of 13% interest rates) - and had a friend who spent heavily. I could never work out why, as our incomes were broadly on a par ....we had the same job, and I knew her husband was on a similar payscale to my OH. After her husband was made redundant, she cried on my shoulder one day and it came out just how much was owed to credit cards, overdrafts, etc etc. All was well, providing the salaries kept rolling it was, they ended up having to sell the house at a very low figure, just to clear everything.

Horses for courses OP, but it sounds as though you are handling it the "sensible" way. smile

racmun Wed 08-May-13 12:49:38

There was a thread like this a couple if weeks ago.

Are you amazed at how much money some people actually have or how much you perceive them to have.

Some people earn a lot simple as that regardless of their job description and can afford to buy whatever they want without worrying.

Some people don't have that much but really budget or get into debt for stuff so they appear to 'be doing' better in terms of material goods.

Just because someone buys a brand new bugaboo and an iPad and £50 cycle helmets for their kids it doesn't mean they're irresponsible and got themselves into debt. For many people its just disposable income that gets spent

You'll never actually know the ins and outs of it. Just do what keep you and your family happy and don't try and keep up with the Jones'

stopgap Wed 08-May-13 12:50:38

LteEve, I also have friends who tell me exactly how much they're planning to spend on buying a house/flat, how much they will spend on renovations etc. I find that these days if you focus on certain topics, people are very forthcoming about financial details...even when you don't ask for said details!

dreamingbohemian Wed 08-May-13 12:52:01

The problem with comparisons is that they're almost never like for like.

I spent almost nothing on maternity clothes but I was working mostly at home. If I'd had a proper job, where I had to look really professional, I might have had to spend a few hundred quid.

I have friends who are struggling a bit but still go to the hair salon, whereas I cut my own hair -- but, my hair is very pliable (thank god) whereas my friends would really struggle to do their own and have it look decent. So no I don't like to judge them for it (which really, however you want to call it comparing, is really judging).

bigkidsdidit Wed 08-May-13 12:54:02

I also know people who have ipads etc when they earn far less than us and we are skint! In our case we have childcare costs, but we also pay into very good final salary pension schemes, which is obviously great and will be wonderful in retirement but eats up a staggering amount of money each month.

I think a lot of people just don't save anything at all.

Some of my friends have asked me how it is that I seem to have more disposable income than them despite seemingly similar circumstances. I believe that I am careful with my money and this is very important. Yes, I spend a lot on nice things, but I never ever buy an expensive coffee in a coffee shop, or a ready made sandwich for example. I plan in advance, my packed lunches are nicer than sandwiches bought from the trolley and I have a flask of coffee instead of paying £3 in Starbucks. Some of my colleagues must spend £7 or £8 a day on this sort of thing.
Also, I never pay full price for anything. Discounts, vouchers, coupons etc.
Some people spend stupid amounts a month on large, new cars. I drive a very economical micra.
One of my friends smokes. She had overlooked the £8 a day each that she and her husband spend on cigarettes!

Shanghaidiva Wed 08-May-13 13:04:22

Sure - we all make comparisons. But the underlying theme of your post is - why can they afford it when I can't ? What trick am I missing?

Perhaps they have more cash due to good financial management? It is pointless to specualte and envy is an unpleasant trait.

MrsMangelFanciedPaulRobinson Wed 08-May-13 13:08:57

I often wonder this kind of thing too....

My DD's friend's mum is a single mum of 3 children. She works part time as a healthcare assistant, so I'm guessing her wage isn't high tax bracket or anything like that, yet seems to have money coming out of her ears!

The kids are all kitted out in new clothes every season, and not cheap ones at that! And every year during the six weeks off they have not one, but two foreign holidays; one for the first week and one for the last week! Plus two center parcs breaks per year, which again are not cheap, and as far as I know they have had two weekends in London so far this year, staying in Hilton hotels.

A couple of years ago the mum suggested that we did a joint birthday party for the girls, as their birthdays are fairly close, and she said "So shall we say we'll each spend £400?". My jaw nearly hit the floor. I've done parties in a hall with a disco before for £100, god knows what she wanted to spend £800 on.

The mum is also always saying she's just had her hair/nails/waxing done whenever I see her at the school gates,or she's been into town and bought X, Y and Z. And she has also said that her food bill is £200 per week for four of them.

None of the kids dads are loaded as far as I know but she must be getting mega bucks in maintenance each month to sustain the lifestyle that she appears to have. Either that or she's working on chatlines in the evenings!

MrsMangelFanciedPaulRobinson Wed 08-May-13 13:10:48

Shanghai, I would disagree with you that envy is an unpleasant trait.

I have discussed this at length with a friend who is a psychotherapist and she says that envy is a perfectly normal trait to have, and is fine and not unpleasant unless it makes you into a bitter person, eaten up with it, which the OP doesn't seem to be!

I think it's unnatural and dishonest when people say they never feel any envy or have never felt any at all. Everybody does

DewDr0p Wed 08-May-13 13:11:56

I agree there are all sorts of reasons why people appear to have more disposable cash.

A lot of it is down to priorities. I've had a few conversations with SIL over the years where she has been a bit sniffy about some of our apparently extravagant spending eg a decent SLR camera, where I shop for food, having a cleaner when the dcs were babies etc

On the other hand, we don't have Sky, we have cheap mobile phones and don't spend much on other technology, we hardly ever get takeaways, I don't spend much on beauty products or magazines etc. I think SIL's yearly Sky package costs about the same as our SLR, we just choose to spend our money differently. I don't judge her for that, it would be nice if she returned the favour grin

I've also got a friend who has a real eye for a bargain. Lots of brand names and posh looking stuff but it's all from ebay or TKMaxx or other discount places.

PosyNarker Wed 08-May-13 13:14:16

Wheredo I do that as well. When I'm working in London (not my usual base but i'm there regularly) and can't take food in it's amazing how all the trips to the likes of Pret & Eat add up.

A month of posh sandwiches, fruit salads etc. + a latte on the way in could be £200.

yearningformyyoni Wed 08-May-13 13:21:47

Im more baffled that Cath Kidston is now regarded as designer!

Shanghaidiva Wed 08-May-13 13:34:43

Mrs Mangel - the op seems very interested in what her friends have and where the money comes from . I don't think this is a healthy attitude and the op sounds bitter and jealous - imo.

Who cares where it comes from or what they spend at the supermarket?

Crunchymunchyhoneycakes Wed 08-May-13 13:35:15

Sure I first encountered this saying on here...

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Shanghaidiva Wed 08-May-13 13:37:01

Crunchy - well said

MrsMangelFanciedPaulRobinson Wed 08-May-13 13:40:20

She doesn't sound bitter and jealous at all Shanghai. I think you sound like the bitter one, because you seem determined to have a pop at OP and read all kinds of things into her post that others of us didn't see in it

ophelia275 Wed 08-May-13 13:42:44

Drug smugglers?

Shanghaidiva Wed 08-May-13 13:45:13

I am merely pointing out that speculating as to why others can afford something and she can't is a pointless and negative exercise.
But as you take the same approach as the op (re the single mum of 3 children) I can understand why you disagree with me...

expatinscotland Wed 08-May-13 13:48:26

YABU. Why does it matter so much, what others have? Who cares?

PrincessScrumpy Wed 08-May-13 14:01:49

People probably thinking this of me at the moment - in last 6 Weeks we've been on long haul holiday for 3 Weeks with our 3 dc, having a conservatory built and dh bought me a diamond eternity ring... He saved for the ring and I've been looking for one for the past year the rest came out of an inheritance I got 4 years ago. We still have savings but decided to spend some. I also wear lots of Joules clothes but we have a fab outlet store, same for monsoon - I've had lots of comments about how I afford to dress dds in monsoon clothes but they are cheaper than asda. Clever shopping and savings (plus a little help from a dead relative which has allowed me to afford to give up work until dc start school).
A male friend once asked how we afford stuff as he was struggling, earned more than DH and has no kids - we went through his finances and he realised how much he wasted.

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