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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!!

PeppermintPasty Thu 09-May-13 10:05:05

I have a bit of inheritance from my Dad, but no Dad any more. As he used to say, even the best kippers have bones....

Drquin Thu 09-May-13 12:51:26

I suppose it's only natural to wonder ....
But, you're unlikely ever to be comparing apples with apples - so it's a bit of a pointless exercise. So, unless you happy asking specific questions of your friends, it's probably going to stay "wondering" smile

I know I'm paying more into my work pension than the minimum - so a colleague who earns exactly the same as me but only pays the minimum is going to start the month with more money than me, before we even get into what we each spend our money on.

I'm overpaying into mortgage at the moment, which you'd probably not be able to guess, but in a few years, certainly earlier than planned I'll hopefully be mortgage-free - so will have more money to spend on "stuff" which you might assume to be unnecessary, but it's only possible based on my choices from years ago. Equally, years back I extended a mortgage by a couple of years (figured it was ok as i was never going to retire at 50 anyway!!) which reduced monthly payments considerably. So choices the OP's friends made years back might be bearing fruit now.

The own business probably does allow some household bills to be scooped up - but at some risk.

Debt does also allow for different lifestyles, so depends how happy each person is with that. That goes for cars and holidays, as much as the smaller stuff - catalogue-mentality almost in the sense of whether you'd rather save up for one thing, buy it and the save for the next, or buy several items on credit and pay them all off.

Second incomes and family gifts, and sadly inheritances, might be in play. When younger, I had regular three-figure cash gifts at birthday and Christmas from a relative. As I figured my wages adequately covered my bills and living expenses, I could either put this money in savings or splash on something "unnecessary. So, you might have seen me with a nice handbag, or going on holiday .... And wondered.
I know plenty folk who have received such generous gifts when babies were born, or other events, that they've not had to buy "everything" they budgeted for, so in theory some spare cash there.

A lot comes down to your views on money - save or splurge effectively, and what you prioritise. I'd prioritise a "nice" car - because i drive a lot and know nothing about car maintenance so want something fairly reliable - the badge doesnt do much for me; but if the "nice" means there's an Audi on my drive, you've possible made the wrong assumption. And indeed whether you're actually sending hard-cash ...... I've enough AirMiles to go round the world a couple of times business class, so I'd be able to get a "luxury" holiday for not much cash. So all may not be as it seems. Extreme Couponing anyone!?

cumfy Thu 09-May-13 13:28:23

I think there's a more general point as well.

Whenever someone becomes super-rich (say £5m+), where exactly did that money come from ?

Surely even the most ardent capitalist would accept that in efficient markets, no-one should become super-rich because someone should compete with their offering.

cumfy Thu 09-May-13 13:32:28

Just ask her! grin

Do they drink, smoke, drive, holiday or eat-out ?

And do you ?wink

likesnowflakesinanocean Thu 09-May-13 13:48:38

things are tight financially for us but from the outside we do have nice things bought as gifts from family, through vouchers earnt online and as neither of us drink smoke or go out socialising when we do have spare money it is just that.

LondonMan Thu 09-May-13 15:16:03

Whenever someone becomes super-rich (say £5m+), where exactly did that money come from ?

Surely even the most ardent capitalist would accept that in efficient markets, no-one should become super-rich because someone should compete with their offering.

There are jobs where a single years bonus could be that much. I suppose it is debateable whether the high-paid are worth it - I think it's easily possibly to find three people who could do any job, and there'd be no harm in choosing the cheapest, but that doesn't seem to be how employers think.

I know someone who might be worth £5M, not even a banker. All his money has come from employment, worked for the same company from graduation to retirement. The peak of his career was being one step below chief executive of one of the biggest FTSE 100 companies. At one point he owned million pound homes in two countries (that work moved him between.)

To get to £5 million over say the last/highest paid 20 years I calculate that he would have to save £150,000 a year, assuming 5% return on investments. So it seems quite doable to me. Over his whole career a final balance of £5 million would result from a £50,000 per year saving.

HaughtyCulture Thu 09-May-13 16:03:34

Perhaps they win lots of competitions?

thecook Thu 09-May-13 23:27:46

They could be getting stuff off shoplifters. They charge 1/3 of the price.

Startail Thu 09-May-13 23:30:54

No hobbies and boring lives. They are the same people who hover 3 times a day.

Startail Thu 09-May-13 23:33:07

Also to be fair. Inherited money, helpful parents, inherited very nice furniture, moved out from London and very good use of Boden's sale.

alltoomuchrightnow Fri 10-May-13 00:25:10

hovering three times a day sounds exciting to me! Hoovering on the other hand.... wink

Startail Fri 10-May-13 01:01:32

Oops blush

ModosCompostHeap Fri 10-May-13 08:25:07

My not so 'D' Father always used to be one of these well-off-with-no-obvious-lottery-win type people.

Growing up we always seemed to be the first family to get a new tv/car/VHS (gimmer), even holidays abroad which was very unusual back then. (Not so keen to spend on food or school shoes but thats another thread altogether)

His explanation was his 'amazing' job with a 'massive' salary which he would boast about to anyone who would listen, although his actual job and salary was always cloaked in mystery, he would never admit any details, ever. Not even our mother knew what he actually did or truly earned. We knew he was some kind of management in a large well known company.

Fast forward to a few years ago. His company forced him to take retirement. Turns out he had over 250k of outstanding credit cards, loans, HP etc. My mother claims to have had no clue although it wasnt a huge shock to anyone else. They had to sell everything. They have nothing and face a poverty stricken retirement.

ZenNudist Fri 10-May-13 08:33:48

Think your friends sound insufferable if they're banging on about brand names bought & amounts spent on x.

Any time anyone does that to me I think 'how crass'.

You sound happy with what you've got. That's good. Wanting more & more stuff doesn't make anyone happy.[pious but true emoticon smile ]

havingamadmoment Fri 10-May-13 08:49:47

The thought crossed my mind every now and then about houses tbh.
We live in a relatively cheap area a 3 bedroom semi would cost around 150,000. We have a pretty average income I think yet we cant get a mortgage big enough to buy one. What confuses me is that so many people I know here own houses yet I know for a fact they have jobs like carer or work in sainsburys - nothing wrong with that except I often wonder how they ever got offered a big enough mortgage.

I wouldnt say it keeps me awake at night - but I do wonder! They cant all have had inheritances or wins grin

fromparistoberlin Fri 10-May-13 08:51:14

(a) debt
(b) sorry but Cath cunting Kidston aint nice in my book

My mantra for the week is stop worrying about other people, and focus on yourself.

MummytoKatie Fri 10-May-13 09:26:55

We got married when I was 20 but didn't have dd until I was 30.

So we had 10 years of DINKY. And although 2 can't "live as cheaply as one" as some people say, it is definitely not doubled.

So we overpaid like mad on our mortgage during those years which makes life much easier now.

mam29 Fri 10-May-13 11:59:56

I think its natural to wonder.

Know lost people online low paid, unemployed or single mum mostly social housing taking lots holidays, buying brand new uggs, bugaboos, pandora bracelets.

I think fb and blogs somewaht edit their lives to seem more wealthy by name dropping or photographing aspirational brands.
next sells some joules items now on credit.

We dont have pensions, savings
we private rent.
some debts but not much show for it have no been abroad for about 8years since eldest was born.
nothing flash in house most furniture brought 2nd hand.
modest 32inch lcd tv brought pre lkids well 1st was one then eldest broke it so insurance replaces like for like .
the bedroom tv is huge and must be least 20years old brought it off ex landlord in uni so some 10years ago now..

we have 3kids and they do some nursery/clubs.

we very careful with budegt spend around 300 a,month for 5 of us.
run 2cars only as we inherited small micra and cheap to run and need people carrier to actually fit everyone in.

No rich relatives did get 8k inheritance few years back but paid off debts sometimes think we should have taken dream holiday but replaced money drain car and got people carrier so have something to show for it.

desperatly want to move to bigger house but cant afford it.
hubby earns 42kgross to which my mam says its load as her husband earns 14k but they brought at right time, had equity, money from parents.

Most peope I know in my age group have financial help in terms of loans and deposits.

I have one freind who baffled me her husbands self employed but last year they had 7holidays, they have 3kids, spend 600 on food, live in 5bed rented house soon to buy. she has small hobby business does not take huge amount, free childcare from family, run 3cars.
When we discussed child benefit she said as they both self employed they could fiddle it.

Another freind her bloked on 18k.

shes part time call centre but tells me good money.
but shes been off sick and dont think she has sick pay.
they in rent arrers.
went on holiday.
always out for meals, takeaways, having hair done, shopping.

she says they cant get credit as was on dmp so have no idea how they do it.

They have 1 child.

I often feel bit fed up ad baffled not jealousy more like where hell we going wrong we so carful and always reveiwing what can be cut next.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Fri 10-May-13 13:40:55

They most likely have more income than you think. The husband's business is likely to be doing a lot better than they are admitting to -- the-- revenue and you.

TantrumsAndBalloons Fri 10-May-13 14:31:02

fromparis I like your mantra.
I think everyone should adopt it.

fromparistoberlin Fri 10-May-13 14:49:57

cheers tantrums

Its been of of those weeks years!

Hullygully Fri 10-May-13 14:58:25

Selling organs.

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 10-May-13 15:13:34

Even when businesses are not making much money, people often pay themselves a large salary. In the first few years of a business existing, the bank (or whoever's funding it) wont really mind this, especially if the company is breaking even. Often businesses will ofset debts or wages against tax to save on their tax bill. He could easily be paying himself £40k (I know of people who do this in real life, even with lossmaking businesses!). He may also pay his wife a salary from the business.

Kids are very expensive too. When you're comparing a one child family with a three child family (especially if your children are older), you're not really comparing like with like.

People may also have other sources of income, such as investments. If they own a lot of nice things, they might ebay them once they have replaced them.

Or they might be in masses of debt to afford it, which I think is what you want to hear.

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 10-May-13 16:13:36

Sometimes it's (as others have said) debt/credit cards, sometimes it's luck. My friend just received a cheque for £5k for PPI completely unexpectedly. DH and I know people whose house has been paid for by parents. My parents' best friends have had three houses left to them by family. That kind of thing. It's luck for some.

OhWouldYouJust Fri 10-May-13 16:50:09


As a child I recall my parents being able to afford to go out drinking 5 nights a week and always had designer clothes, expensive holidays (without us children) and money for cigarettes.
Meanwhile we were sent to school with bread and butter as there was no food in the house and cheap hand me down clothes and shoes.

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