Thoughtful Thursday: Rich

July 8, 2010

Thoughtful ThursdayIf I had a million dollars I’d buy you an exotic pet like a llama or an emu.
–Barenaked Ladies

So there’s this guy who grew up with my husband. They’re not really friends, but they have some close friends in common so they sometimes end up together at golf trips and bachelor parties and such, and we attend some of the same weddings and get-togethers.

I just found out that his business has earned him a boatload of money (yachtload? shipload?). A preposterously huge amount of money. As in, eight figures.

Mr. Moneybags has a very big house in the fanciest neighborhood in his city. He indeed has a boat (but not a yacht). He flies first class. He sends his kids to private school. He buys things without asking what they cost.

He clearly lives the high life, but ironically, I think of him as being rather cheap.

You see, one time a few years ago I was asked to deliver the envelope containing his wedding gift for one of our mutual friends. I did not open the envelope and I did not try to peek inside (no, really) but the check fell out of the card and I saw how much he gave them. It was a smaller wedding gift than I would give to anyone. I would give an acquaintance or a coworker more than that, let alone a close friend of 30 years.

Mr. Moneybags literally has 10,000 times as much money as I do in the bank, yet the wedding gift he gave to his dear friend is half of what I typically give. Our non-monetary gift to this particular couple (the groom is one of DH’s closest friends) was about four times as much as the one that wafted out of that envelope.

Obviously I don’t expect Mr. Moneybags to buy anyone a car for their wedding, but I would expect someone with that level of wealth to give his lifelong friends a gift that’s more generous than most. Maybe I’m wrong and he should blend in with everyone else by giving an average-sized gift. At the very least, his gift shouldn’t be one of the cheapest.

I can’t even begin to fathom what it is like to have anywhere near that kind of money. My imagination just isn’t that good, or maybe I can’t grasp numbers that large. If I had even 1/10th of what Mr. Moneybags has, I expect that I would also fly first class, because DH needs the legroom. I would also send my kids to private school, primarily so that they would become bilingual or trilingual. I would get a big house, but not an obscene mansion. I would hire someone to do things I don’t want to do — I would no longer be the one in the furnace room changing the dirty air filter on the A/C, as I did today. I would definitely not buy a boat. Back when I was doing IF treatments, I would have been able to do as many treatment cycles as necessary without worrying about the cost. I would travel; oh, how I would travel. Outside of giving them worldly experiences, I would not spoil my children with lots of material possessions. I would pick up the tab at dinner when I’m with a friend who is down on their luck — just as I already do. I would give generous gifts — just as I already do. I would like to think that I would treat myself well, but I would treat other people better. I would not do it for the sake of throwing money around, but rather to give people a gift that I know they’d enjoy without consideration for the cost, and to help people when they could use some help.

Oh and I would definitely buy a car with power windows, because WTF? It’s 2010 and I have to crank the window by hand? Ah, if I had millions of dollars, finally the toll booth attendants would stop laughing at me.

If you had much more money than you do now, how would you live your life differently?

22 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Rich”

  1. a Says:

    Mr. Moneybags probably has all that money because he hoards instead of giving what he can afford.

    If I had much more money, my life wouldn’t be much different. I don’t think I can stop working. If I decide that my daughter needs to go to private school, she will – whatever it takes. I might buy a nicer car, but probably not, since then I’d have to worry about door dings. I might be more willing to buy myself extravagant crap that I don’t need, but probably not.

  2. emk808 Says:

    If I had a lot more money, I would be much more relaxed. I would give a lot of money to charity, put a lot of it in the bank, and continue to live the way I do now just without worrying how the bills will get paid. I would probably hire a really, really good nanny for the kids and a housekeeper to keep the place clean. 🙂

  3. Kittyquilt Says:

    If I had a lot more money, I would be much less stressed. We could pay off most of our debt and have fewer bills every month. We would have lots of money to give to charity. And I could find a job I loved and not have to worry about how much it paid. I could focus more on things that are important to me.

  4. Mabelb Says:

    Easy, I’d quit my job so I could enjoy watching my son grow up. My husband would quit his job and train to do something he actually wants to do, in the meantime we’d travel and explore the world in comfort as a family. If we wanted to try and expand our family in a few years and get back on the ART rollercoaster at least we wouldn’t feel sick over the money aspect.

  5. Rebecca Says:

    I would buy a big house with a pool, and a holiday home that people could use free. I would adopt as many kids as I could fit in. And I’d make sure I gave damn good presents.

  6. Mel Says:

    I’d probably live in a different house (not a bigger house, per se, but in a different neighbourhood). I’d probably not stress over every purchase. I don’t know if I’d buy more things or live a very different life, except that some of the stress would be gone.

  7. strongblonde Says:

    i would do most of what you said as well. there’s one thing, however, that sticks out in my mind right now.

    this week we talked about refinancing our house. right now, in our current market, it is impossible. B said to me this week that he has finally come to the realization that we are in this house for the next 15 years unless the market changes dramatically. really, we like the house, but the big drawback is B’s job situation. He can’t apply for any tenure positions across the country because if he gets offered one there is NO way we could take it b/c we would never be able to sell our house. I would love for him to be able to work a full time job doing what he loves instead of several part time teaching positions. yes, our current situation allows us to have minimal daycare, very flexible schedules and we get to do what we want/need….but i just have a feeling that it may be better. so….if i had more money the first thing i would do is pay off the house so it really wouldn’t be a factor in the whole B-job situation. ….then we would really only have to worry about the fact that there are only like 40 positions in his field posted every few years, lol.

    oh…and also pay off student loans, lol. then we would officially be debt free. damn student loans!

    i would also continue to buy gifts the same way….we’re pretty generous as it is.

    ….maybe i would treat myself a little better, too. 🙂

  8. Ana Says:

    We would also live in a nicer neighborhood, and have a house with a garage and then buy a (not fancy) car. We would travel. Oh we would travel the world, first class! And go to concerts, and nice restaurants. Maybe I would pamper myself with a massage or highlights once in a while. I would certainly continue to work, but my husband would have the option of possibly changing careers, I have been feeling lately that he is not satisfied in his job. I would definitely outsource things I do not enjoy doing that take time away from my family—like cleaning the house, doing taxes, laundry? can you get someone to come to your house and do laundry? Oh and DEFINITELY we would give good gifts. I also think we are fairly generous with gifts/favors and I would love to increase that proportional to our income. And contribute substantial amounts to charities of our choosing. I would send my kid (kids?) to private school and perhaps a few camps/classes when older. And we wouldn’t worry about the future—about ART costs, retirement, college. Sigh. Would be nice. I also would NOT want to spoil ourselves or our child with material things. But we would use the money to take advantage of the experiences available.

  9. Ana Says:

    You’ve got me daydreaming when i should be working!

  10. WiseGuy Says:

    Oooh…Mr Moneybags certainly invests less on his relationships, I did say!

    If I had tons of money?

    * hire domestic help for evvvverything.

    * travel…go to Disney World, and all.

    * possibly think of sending my kids to better schools than the options I would go through now.

    * convert some of my money into fixed deposits. I know my capacity to spend, I will convert it so that something remains at the end.

    * pay all the mortgage (I would not need mortgages then, right?)

    * possibly buy a small beach-house/property near some water body.

    * spend more money on clothes, guilt free.

    * buy expensive beauty treatments/ hire high-end trainers.


  11. Kristin Says:

    If I had lots of money, I would not move but I would build a new house. I would have my kids in private school. I would have a maid and landscaper. I would also have a huge amount invested so I wouldn’t have to worry. I would have lap-band surgery. I would have lasix so I didn’t have to wear glasses anymore. Oh, there is so much I would do.

  12. Dora Says:

    I think I would do pretty much the same things as you, but I like boats. I would want a boat. Nothing too huge, but comfy. Something for a nice Summer day up the Hudson River. A lovely brownstone in Manhattan with a pretty garden in the back. I wouldn’t buy a vacation home, because I’d want to travel to different places. I want to show Sunshine the world. If we wanted to spend some vacation time in one place, a rental is fine.

    Money for Sunshine’s education would be priority, but like you, I would not spoil her with material possessions. I’d rather spend money on experiences. Build memories.

    I’m already pretty generous with gifts. I’d probably be somewhat more so. I have something of a talent for picking out things I know people will enjoy. It’s not that hard to do with limited money, but it would nice not to think twice about the cost of a gift.

    So, in our hypothetical rich lives, where should we get together for a weekend with our kids? A beach weekend in Capri?

  13. Photogrl Says:

    That is one of my favorite Barenaked Ladies songs…

    This is fun to think about!

    If I had a million dollars, I would:

    ~ Move into a new house, nothing huge, but something with a little more living space.

    ~ I’d have a housekeeper, for sure.

    ~ We would travel more.

    ~ Give much more to charities that are close to my heart.

    ~ Buy a house on the beach, and invite friends and family to stay for free.

    Oh, I could have so much fun and probably go on forever with the list.

    It is amazing how “moneybags” tend to be cheap!

  14. I *think* that my stress level would go down, but maybe it would actually go up. You know what they say about kids — little kids=little problems, big kids=big problems? Maybe it’s the same with money.

    There’s an exercise my energy teacher gave us once in order to FEEL flow in and flow out. On day one you are given $100 and have to spend it all. On day 2 you double it and spend again. Keep doubling each day through a month and write down how you spend your wealth.

    It became HARD to get rid of all that money as the month ended! In my exercise I was looking for lots of charities to support, with plenty remaining to take care of friends and family.

    I should do this exercise again. Flow feels good.

  15. babysmiling Says:

    @Lori: You must be thinking of Notorious B.I.G., who wisely said, “Mo’ money mo’ problems.”

    The difference between this scenario and your energy exercise is that you don’t have to spend the money. You could just squirrel it away if you wanted.

    Your energy teacher must have a lot of wealthy students!

  16. Eva Says:

    I already know that with more money nothing big would change for my family. My husband and I met as students and somehow we never adapted our lifestyle, in spite of having a higher income now. We drive old cars, rent rather than buy a place, practically never go out for dinner, and enjoy the time and freedom that comes with this lifestyle.

    In regard to tipping and also with giving present – well, it is hard to guess the right amount sometimes. Everybody expects you to know how much to give for a wedding, a birthday, for your childcare provider for Christmas etc. Maybe the person you describe did not have an idea what would be the “right” amount ? I come from a country where some people take it as an insult if you tip them at all. It transcends the feeling “does she think I need this – I just did her a favour”. I would love a website, that states for the country, the background of a person, and the occasion what the average tip/present would be and what is too much/wrong/too little. I would be delighted to know what is right.

  17. babysmiling Says:

    @Eva: When I was in Japan for the first time, it was just a long layover at the airport so I hadn’t done research into etiquette. I got a massage in the airport and then tipped — the lady was soooo confused and just kept trying to give me back my change. Oops. When I actually spent time in Tokyo a few days later, I ended up really loving the no tipping system — they are trying hard because it is their job, not to get a tip. A refreshing change.

    Try this international tipping guide. Not fully nuanced, but a good start.

  18. Carrie Says:

    I would not be worrying/stressing about not being able to find a job, because I wouldn’t need one. I would stay at home with the kids in a home of our own. I would rent out our house in GA that has been for sale for nearly a year, so we could buy or build a house of our own here in IL.

  19. Cat Says:

    Honestly, I don’t think I’d change much, just a bit more of what we have/do already. DH and I are not big spenders. Finances were uncertain when I was growing up and DH grew up with less in a home with one income and five dependents. We had everything we needed and a few extras, but that was it.

    We’d definitely buy a bigger house, but not huge. We don’t need huge, just enough space to be comfortable. I’d pay someone to come clean it, even if I had to pay cash behind DH’s back. It would be a place with a big yard so I could buy more flowers and a big jungle gym for the kids. I’d buy more books and more music than we do now. I’d love to get a cabin on a lake “up North”, as they say around here.

    Like you, we’d also give nicer gifts and be better able to help whoever needs it. I’d give more to church and charities I care about. It’s so great to be able to hand over a check and say, “Here. Go buy what you need.” We might travel more, but I don’t think we’d travel any differently than we do now. The extra leg room would be nice, but I’m too cheap to pay for first class tickets.

    But you know, that’s probably it. I think we’d mostly sock it away for our retirement and the kids’ education. I prefer to have the feeling of security instead of things.

  20. Gabby Says:

    I’d be a stay at home mom AND have a full time nanny. Childcare is really hard work with two! And I’d work, too. A few different endeavors, not just one part-time job. I’d look for opportunities to help others, not necessarily for pay. Just to keep my brain going and meet other adults and be a good example for the kids.

    I’d have someone like Alice from Brady Bunch that is totally part of the family so that she would go on vacations with us and all. It is so hard to travel with two at this age, so it would be great to have another adult.

  21. Heather Says:

    If I had a lot more money than today, I’d love to stop working in the corporate world, spend more time with my family, travel more, spend more time getting the decorating projects done around the house and cook fabulously tasty and healthy meals.

  22. Beth Says:

    I know I’d sleep a lot better. I’d also quit my job and volunteer somewhere that makes a difference in people’s lives. I might still send my daughter to daycare, but not until she’s 3 years old, for the social aspect of it (and to get professionals involved in her upbringing because I am not at all a pro at this parenting thing and I worry that I’m leaving something out). I’d pay off my debts and do some home improvement projects, but I love this house and really don’t want to move. We already own a boat (inherited money-pit), but it’s a humble one.

    Oh yes- I would hire a professional to take care of my lawn because DH and I have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that we cannot grow grass. We’re great at dandelions and queen Anne’s lace, but not grass.

    And I would give generously- to friends and family to mark momentous occasions; to charities that are important to me; to those less fortunate who’ve suffered through no fault of their own in this horrid economy,…

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