Top 1% Complains They Can't Make Ends Meet

Top 1% Complains They Can't Make Ends Meet

We've got your daily dose of disbelief.

Over on UrbanBaby, an anonymous forum where parents gather to share opinions and snark, a thread has sprouted up that reveals how easy it is to lose touch in New York City.

While we knew that the wealthy have a tendency to feel a little strapped, to hear it coming straight from their own mouths makes for some great entertainment.

The thread asks, "What's your hhi [household income] and do you FEEL poor, middle class, upper middle class or rich where you live. No judging." And the responses rolled in.

One Upper East Side person responded, "so, so, so poor. We totally struggle every day." She has a household income of $350,000 per year and is the miserable owner of two homes.

"my dh [dear husband] earns a little over 500k and i have always felt poor in nyc. i was probably one of the poorest if not the poorest in dd's [dear daughter's] preschool class. in nyc 500k is not a lot of money."

"HHI is 1mil. We live in Harlem. We are comfortable but not rich here in NYC."

And best of all ...

"13mm this year. FEEL UMC [Upper Middle Class] in NYC. Under 1Bil in savings in NYC, and you cannot buy anything. Rich means being able to influence political contests. the Koch brothers are rich."

(You can read the entire thread here.)

Is the new American dream to be able to buy off your politicians? Cue the tiniest violin playing a sad, sad song.

What 'Rich' Really Means

Let's do a little budgeting breakdown. Technically, the poverty line in the United States for a four-person family is $22,350. So the anonymous poster who makes $350,000 per year makes more than 15 times an officially poor family.

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Another way to think about the "rich" is in terms of percentages. As in: Anyone making over $506,000 a year is in the top 1%. 

You might think that a person hauling home $13 million every year does not—and will never—qualify as "middle class." But actually, there is no official definition of the middle class (as much as politicians like to throw the term around). But if you talk about "middle income," well, that would be someone making anywhere from from $28,636 to $79,040 a year. Most of the griping posters did not fall into that bracket.

Insanity or Just the Empire State of Mind?

While those of you who are scraping by on one-tenth of some of these posters' incomes might feel outraged by their claims of dire straights, it helps to remember just how easy it is to fall into the money comparison trap. Indeed, many of the posters who claimed to be struggling feel that way because they pay for an expensive private school, which can cost up to $40,000 a year, sucking away much of their income. One family making $650,000 a year helpfully does the math:

"I know rationally we are doing well, but we still feel pinched. We try to save our bonus and spend our base ($275k) and with two [children] in private pre-school, a modest place on far UWS, and pretty modest life, we rip through that $275k incredibly fast. But for those haters, here is the math: $275k = $137k after tax. That is a bit more than $11k per month. After rent, it's $6200. Annualize preschool and subtract, we are down to $3500. And between all of our other expenses, somehow we burn through that. And I promise we do NOT live big (vacations, etc.). But we do live comfortably—have a car that is garaged, do take 1-2 trip to visit family via plane a year, etc."

Once you've landed your child in a coveted spot at a private school, your money woes are compounded. Scheduling play dates with families who own three floors of a $4,000-per square foot pied à terre can make even a hedge fund manager feel like a pauper. It's called money comparisonitis, and we wrote about how to beat it. It sounds like some of these Upper East Side parents could use a few of our tips.

More From LearnVest

The wealthy can get caught feeling poor and overspending, even those with over $75 million in the bank! What gives?
Some of these parents could use a budget! Fortunately, we have all the tools they need to create one.
Don't let money get between you and your honey. Read about the 8 top reasons parents fight about money.

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