How do you define "rich"? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 11-05-2004, 04:55 AM
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About a year ago, a good friend of mine was telling me about a TV program she saw about relative wealth. The people in it were millionaires, I think, but they didn't think they were "rich" because there were people they knew who had much more money than they did.



There are a lot of comments both here and IRL about being rich, tax cuts, etc... not to mention the bennies of being rich. So.. my question is... how do you define wealth? Or being rich?



Income? Assets? Debt:asset ratio? bling? What's the difference between well-off and rich?



I don't want this to become a serious discussion about economics - I want your opinion! Is someone who makes $30,000/year rich? Or do they have to, say, make over $500,000/year and own a 4000 sq ft house and a boat and vacation in the tropics?



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#2 Old 11-05-2004, 05:10 AM
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Anyone "seems" rich to me when they buy things without worrying about the price. I don't think they really are rich and they are very often the people in debt. I feel poor, but I don't have any actual debts. It's all relative.



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#3 Old 11-05-2004, 05:20 AM
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I define rich as folks who buy what the want without asking the price. Big ticket items I'm speaking of here. People who don't have credit cards or loans who can afford these items paying cash.
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#4 Old 11-05-2004, 05:32 AM
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Owning more than one home is usually one of the indicators, especially if one is a 'vacation home.'
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#5 Old 11-05-2004, 05:36 AM
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Under 28,000 = Working poor

28,000 to 40,000 = Lower middle class

40,000 to 80,000 = Middle class

80,000 to 150,000 = Upper middle class

150,000 to 400,000 = Well-off

400,000 to 600,000 = Fairly wealthy

600,000 to 900,000 = Wealthy

Over 900,000 = Rich
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#6 Old 11-05-2004, 05:48 AM
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I would say one is well off if they can afford Cable Television. I don't know if I'd call you rich though, but that tends to be a luxury that's associated with upper and middle classes.

The same for other luxuries... I don't think you can classify yourself as poor if you have central air, a dishwasher, a washing machine, a big screen tv, a computer, or more "things" than you know what to do with.
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#7 Old 11-05-2004, 05:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gothic Sponge View Post

Under 28,000 = Working poor

28,000 to 40,000 = Lower middle class

40,000 to 80,000 = Middle class

80,000 to 150,000 = Upper middle class

150,000 to 400,000 = Well-off

400,000 to 600,000 = Fairly wealthy

600,000 to 900,000 = Wealthy

Over 900,000 = Rich



If we're breaking it down like that... I'd go much lower.

Under 15,000 = working poor

15k to 30k = lower middle class

30k to 50k = middle class

50k to 80k = upper middle class

over 80k = Rich.
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#8 Old 11-05-2004, 06:02 AM
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I can't really answer my own question. I don't know what defines "rich" b/c I think it's all relative. I'm not rich compared to my surroundings (I live in the 20th most expensive city in the world), but I'm rich compared to, say, a family in Nepal.



So let's keep it to my surroundings... I'm solid middle class. So how do I define rich? If you own a condo or house in the city. If you own a nice car like a BMW Z4. If you have no debts and can buy things without caring about the price ("if I like it, I buy it").



I remember when I was in college, I was talking to a coworker of mine and I said, "yay, tomorrow's payday!" and he said, "oh yeah! it is! I never keep track of when I get paid." To me, at the time, that seemed the epitome of wealth.
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#9 Old 11-05-2004, 06:12 AM
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You're rich if you have enough money to support yourself without working. Someone who only earns 40,000 and spends wisely could end up retiring early with a comfortable savings. Some other idiot could earn $400,000 but they're struggling to keep their world from crashing down.
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#10 Old 11-05-2004, 06:24 AM
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ooooooh i like that marie. good definition.
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#11 Old 11-05-2004, 06:27 AM
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well, i usually define wealth in things that don't have economic value, like love, faith, knowledge, wisdom, etc.



but, i guess we're talking money. For me, i want to be what i consider comfortable.

For me, that's probably a lot of money. My first goal is to be debt free. I need about $80K to get out from under my school loans. We have only $900 in credit card debt that we're slowly getting rid of (it was for emergency auto repair and groceries). ultimately, we want to live within our means and able to invest a decent portion of our income for later years and so on.



Then, i want to be able to purchase all organic, biodynamic foods and not worry about the costs. If i were to go completely organic/biodynamic now, it would cost ryan and i about $200 to $250 per week to eat simply because we eat so much raw produce which is really expensive when you buy organic. We'd love to be able to just go grocery shopping without weighing what we need to cut out this week, or what we can buy not organic to save money.



Next, I don't want a big house, but i would like two smaller houses in two locations--probably one where ever i decide to settle and one near family. If i decide to settle near family, then i want my second place to be in denmark. I want both to be environmentally friendly, so i'd probably have to convert older homes or build new ones.



Next, the issue of travel. I love to travel and i want to be able to travel relatively frequently--particularly for my thai yoga massage and yoga education. that means india and thailand predominently. husband loves europe and wants to explore the middle east. we also have a strong interest in asia, particularly japan and bhutan. we do want to visit manchu pichu, but otherwise have very little interest in central and south america. i've been to africa, and i'm not sure i have any desire to return. Perhaps eventually. Anyway, exploring, travelling, is something that i really want to do which means that 1. i need enough money to travel and 2. i need enough time to travel (which means i have to be able to "take off" from work for 4 weeks or more without worrying about income losses). Also, if we live away from family, i want to make sure that we have money enough to see them at least twice a year--not necessarily during holidays.



I basicly want to make enough money to afford the sort of lifestyle that i want to lead. I think it would take more than $80k a year to do this. i think i will be wealthy. But for me, i guess that's what i call comfortable. i dunno.



i feel like anyone who can do these sorts of things: own a large home, two cars, have two kids, send them to private school, buy fancy clothes and jewelry on impulse, attend any yoga thing they want without thinking about it, travel anywhere without thinking about it, are wealthy people. While there are many things that they do that i don't want to (such as status seeking, etc), i consider these people wealthy. And, i plan on being somehwat similar. different too, though, because many of my own values are a bit different.



there ya go. make sense? probably not.
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#12 Old 11-05-2004, 06:48 AM
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For me personally, I feel rich when I can pay all of my bills with no worries and I still have some money to buy things we need for the house or little things we want.



GothicSponge - did you make up those numbers or are those from a chart somewhere?
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#13 Old 11-05-2004, 07:15 AM
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FYI Kpickell..My mom had basic cable for the reception at $12 a month. She was the poorest person I know.
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#14 Old 11-05-2004, 07:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rincaro View Post

For me personally, I feel rich when I can pay all of my bills with no worries and I still have some money to buy things we need for the house or little things we want.



GothicSponge - did you make up those numbers or are those from a chart somewhere?



No, just my rough economic estimates.
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#15 Old 11-05-2004, 07:33 AM
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I'm not sure how I define what rich is. But I can define what it isn't. It isn't me!

I am the user formerly known as MrsKey
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#16 Old 11-05-2004, 07:40 AM
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I feel like my family was rich as a kid because while we didn't go out and buy a 5,000 sq ft house and two luxury cars, we never had to worry about debt or where my college tuition would come (although the stock crash messed that up a lot). I have to agree that it's based on your lifestyle rather than your income, though it's hard to mess up a half million dollars a year salary, you know?



Off topic, but I'd recommend Prof. Juliet Schor's "The Overspent American" (as well as The Overworked American and Born to Shop/Born to Buy, whatever that book is called).
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#17 Old 11-05-2004, 07:41 AM
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Like Marie, I consider people rich who have the income from investments to live as they please from interest and dividends without having to work.
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#18 Old 11-05-2004, 07:47 AM
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Interestingly enough, there is a book "The Millionaire Next Door", which talks about how the average millionaire doesn't live his or her life like most people think.



Not that a million dollars is extremely rich anymore. If all goes well in my life, I'll die with about a million in the bank, due to a frugal lifestyle and putting my maximum in a well-invested IRA.
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#19 Old 11-05-2004, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bankruptor View Post

Like Marie, I consider people rich who have the income from investments to live as they please from interest and dividends without having to work.



Would this include someone who hates working and is capable of living off of small investments? I know someone (indirectly) like this, and they don't live well. They have a small, junky home out of town and drive an old truck. But they would rather do that than work, and they had an inheritance that they delt with wisely so they wouldn't have to.



I guess I still consider rich to be based more off of income level and cost of living in the area. 200K in LA isn't as much as it is in South Dakota, and definitely not what it is in Mexico.
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#20 Old 11-05-2004, 08:35 AM
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Ug, I suppose not. That's a good distinction.
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#21 Old 11-05-2004, 08:52 AM
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As a kid, I considered "rich" any family who could reliably pay the bills on time without worry, and who could go on an annual vacation without using a credit card. Or anyone who could comfortably go out to dinner each week. In highschool I felt my parents hit the bigtime because they started to be able to afford things like frozen dinners, premium cable, pop and chips.



I must remind myself of this as now I can do all these things if I want. (But if I were supporting three other people I couldn't.) When I see the breakdown of incomes in the US for families of four, I ask myself, How can they afford it?



I honestly think a lot of families I see with their newer cars and tons of toys for the kids have huge credit card bills (which my parents didn't have)



Just found this: http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/4person.html



Median means have of people with a family of four are below, half are above. These numbers would be combined incomes.
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#22 Old 11-05-2004, 09:07 AM
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A rich person can pay all of their bills and still afford extras. Pretty vague definition, I know. But this is the best I could come up with. Annual earnings mean little -- $30,000 a year in a rural midwest town, for example, is very different from $30,000 a year in Los Angeles.



For my own part -- I have a roof over my head, electricity and clean water, and I can go to the grocery store and buy food pretty much any time I want. I have a dependable car, even though it's not fancy (Toyota Echo, for the curious). I have more than one computer (but I should mention that some of my friends have given me their old computers). I can afford to feed and care for two dogs, a tortoise, and a goldfish. I do still have to work, but I still consider myself rich.
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#23 Old 11-05-2004, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christy13 View Post

Owning more than one home is usually one of the indicators, especially if one is a 'vacation home.'

my parents had four houses before one of them burned last year. they were both teachers and i wouldn't have considered them rich. 1-3 of the houses were rented out at a time, and they had a double mortgage on the first.
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#24 Old 11-05-2004, 09:12 AM
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I'm with thalia. My family can afford to go grocery shopping every day, have three children in private schools (some of the cheapest private schools, but still) have the internet, and go on trips every few years. and we live in a house.



I consider us quite rich. I look in the pantry or refrigerator and think "just look at all the food we have! My family can eat tonight and tomorrow, and have someone over for dinner if need be."



I started considering us wealthy when we could buy new clothes just to have new clothes. Before, new clothes were for birthdays and Christmas. other than that, we had hand-me-downs. I dressed in hand-me-downs until well into high school. I still wear some of them (not the early-nineties jeans or the ill-fitting neon sweatshirts or the denim jumpers anymore, but I do love my t-shirt with Shakespeare on it, my "read a banned book" sweatshirt, my fuzzy blue sweater...)



That said, we don't have cable TV. I've had cable TV for two months of my life. I was six and we were living in an apartment where it came free. I suppose if we realy truly wanted to, we could probably afford it, but we honestly don't need it, so we don't have it.
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#25 Old 11-05-2004, 09:22 AM
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rich is anyone who doesn't collect quarters for laundry



(KIDDING)
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#26 Old 11-05-2004, 09:34 AM
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I sometimes feel rich because I own my own home and have no debt, but then I live very frugally. I also live in Tucson, AZ where the cost of living is pretty low. I wouldn't be able to live at all in the town where I grew up in Westchester County in NY. My parents, who still live there, would be considered rich by the standards of most of the people in the world, but they certainly don't seem rich in comparison to a lot of the people who live there who drive luxury cars, have more than one home and spend a lot of their time at their country club. My parents live pretty modestly, have worked hard, and have invested well. They don't seem rich where they are, but they'd seem pretty rich if they moved here and would have a lot more expendable income. I feel comfortable here, but I'd be poor if I moved there. And of course in comparison to the average person living in a developing nation, we're all incredibly rich. So it's not all relative, but a lot of it is.
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#27 Old 11-05-2004, 10:06 AM
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I also think the two years difference between my sister and me has made a big difference in how we see "rich" and how frugal we are.



My family was fairly poor when I was young, when we still lived in maryland (before I was seven) not dirt poor, but we never turned the heat on in the winter because it cost too much, we had no air conditioning, we didn't always know where we were getting our food, etc. Because of that, I tend to be super-frugal. I love dollar stores, I make it if I can, I almost never impulse-buy. If I go to the store specifically for a certain item, that's what I'll buy. I live by the "I don't need it, I won't get it" idea.



My sister, on the other hand, if you would ask her, would say that we're poor. She goes to the mall almost weekly. She wants nothing more than a Louis Vuitton purse. She buys new designer clothes all the time, wears expensive makeup, gets her hair dyed and styled professionally (by her friend's expensive hairdresser) and literally refuses to even walk into a discount store, a dollar store, or Goodwill. She believes that we need a big-screen tv with cable. We've had this conversation several times before:



Ella: (looking at $362752345 toe shoes in a catalog) oooh pretty! look at these shoes!

Megan: you should get them!

Ella: but they're expensive!

Megan: but you like them!

Ella: but I HAVE toe shoes.

Megan: so? yours are boring and old and nasty.

Ella: but... I don't NEED expensive toe shoes.

Megan: Shut up Ella. just beause you don't NEED something doesn't mean you shouldn't GET it.



so... I think how you see rich/poor depends a lot on what you've seen and your point of view.



Also, come to think of it, my sisters (who like designer clothes and big TVs and think we're poor) both have best friends who are considerably richer than us, whereas my friends have always been considerably poorer... They're used to their friends' parents buying them zillion-dollar snacks at baseball games and I'm used to "permanently lending" friends a few bucks so that they can have lunch... I wonder how that happened...
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#28 Old 11-05-2004, 10:45 AM
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I consider my parents to be rich, although by GS's description, they would only be "well off I am not exactly sure how much they are "worth" but they own a beautiful home here in Boulder, travel as they please and are very generous with family. I consider them rich, because they never have to worry about money.
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#29 Old 11-05-2004, 11:42 AM
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Those who own the means of production and live off of profit rather than their own wage-labor.



Of course, many movie stars are also rich...hmmm...



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#30 Old 11-05-2004, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by das_nut View Post

If all goes well in my life, I'll die with about a million in the bank, due to a frugal lifestyle and putting my maximum in a well-invested IRA.



personally, I want to die completely broke - because I will have spent all my money during my life. I want to be able to enjoy things while I'm alive... in december, it will my first vacation not financed with a credit card. I have saved & saved and will be able to pay for it in cash. yay! I guess that makes me rich. (granted, it's not much of a vacation as we're just driving 2 hours north, but I can at least pay for 4 nights in a B&B w/o my cc - that means a lot to me since I used to be buried in debt with about 8 credit cards almost all maxed out)



I consider myself solidly middle class, certainly not 'rich' ... but better off than others, and certainly much better off than when we were kids (ah, the days of ramen, potato burgers and tuna casseroles. blech.). I define wealth in terms of debts & assets - if both are high, you're not really rich. If your net worth is high (like worth over a million buckeroos), you're rich.
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