Top 1% Complains They Can’t Make Ends Meet

Alden Wicker

UrbanBabyWe’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.

  • Azraph

    As a young professional who finally made it above the poverty line in 2011, I wish I had these people’s problems. How can you “feel poor” with a garaged car–in NYC, no less–and the ability to take your family on 1-2 vacations via plane per year? Do these parents understand that folks who are genuinely poor can’t afford to send their kids to private preschools or own two homes, and that a car is a rare luxury, not a necessity?

  • Lovleigh416

    Oh boo freakin’ hoo. Move OUT of New York and into a city where normal people live and work. You’ll feel rich again in no time! Everything these people are talking about spending all their money on are WANTS, not needs. You pay that much in rent and schooling because that’s where you CHOOSE to live and send your kids to school. Flying to see family is a luxury that some cannot afford. My fiancé hasn’t seen his parents in 4 years because he just hasn’t been able to afford the trip. put your kids in a public school, spend a bit on a tutor, move, and see how poor you feel then. BUDGET and you can live the wealth you have.

    • justme

      Amen, sister (or brother….) These “poor” people need to get out of NYC and into the real world.  It’s fine if that’s where you want to live, but don’t complain for a second because you’re “poor” by choice.

    • justme

      Amen, sister (or brother….) These “poor” people need to get out of NYC and into the real world.  It’s fine if that’s where you want to live, but don’t complain for a second because you’re “poor” by choice.

    • Anonymous

      The reality is there are tons of normal people working in NYC -servants of those poor 1%ers

      If everyone in NYC were rich than who would serve them?  I wish more was said about those really hustling to provide for their families who live in NY and are burdened with outrageous commuting costs.

      My husband and I tried to escape this but didn’t last very much when we left.  I was born and raised in the state of NY – its my home.  My family is here.  That’s more important to me than having things be easy. So it means for me living in the grind, making ends meet, and not keeping up with the Joneses I see everyday on the street.

  • Anonymous

    I guess its all relative. While I want to scoff at these millionaires for feeling poor, as my husband and I have lived on 30K a year for the last couple of years, the break down of the 650K a year family helps me to see where they are coming from. But we chose to move from Seattle to Texas, for example, to drive down our living costs, and we haven’t had children yet, because we can’t afford it. There are certain lifestyle sacrifices that we have made, too, because we were better off before the recession hit.

  • magazinegirl37

    This thread makes me feel overwhelmed and worried. Like I need to quit the job I love and go back to school for something more lucrative. Like I need to bag an investment banker husband. I live in NYC now and can’t picture me and boyfriend ever making that much money. Does it get easier to accept the life you have? Sigh … I’m suffering from comparisonitis.

    • ncdoula

      Don’t start comparing yourself to anyone else, that’s when the trouble starts and then you become envious, and it’s a vicious Gerbil cage (never getting off, but always compelled to want more). Where you live sets up a false sense of reality.. and expectations. Don’t get sucked up in it.Can you move to a cheaper place?, save a little each week (taken out from your check and deposited into an account BEFORE you get it)? Live a little more frugally?
      Not buy that coffee, but bring it yourself?
      There are ALWAYS ways to pair down and save IF you really want to…

  • Kelly

    Interesting stuff.  Amazing the different perspectives.  We are saving something each month, so I should not feel poor, yet comparisonitis gets me so often.  It’s hard to see so many families around us with SAHMs while we both work.  Yes, we’re paying private school, but we don’t have $ for vacations, my hubby hasn’t seen his family in almost 6 years (and counting).  School system here is so bad, we just felt strongly enough to scrape.  Teacher friends don’t even want to send their kids to public here, high school crime rates and terrible graduation rates.  I want more for my children.  My hubby grew up poor, so he keeps me grounded.  I work hard mentally to feel blessed, but many days I want to pack up and move somewhere with better schools so we can save more and see family more.

    • Ncdoula

      Is it possible to homeschool, or is that not feasible financially? It seems like you might be able to talk a teacher friend into doing that with you.. maybe have a small side part-time business (you and the other mom) that could bring in some extra money. Work the numbers and see if it (private school vs your pay vs daycare, if any) would even out… As your children get older, it seems like the HS environment is a scary prospect… Good luck to you! 

  • Ncdoula

    This is NYC… They are in a ((BUBBLE)) all unto their own…The rest of the country lives in reality. Why would you even do that article, but to stir up trouble and angst?
    @ Fatima… My husband and I too never thought we could never “afford” to have kids… believe me, you NEVER think you can… :) We decided to do it anyway, and I stayed at home with them until they went to school full time (our decision, for our family). 
    Believe me you (or anyone) CAN make it work IF you are willing to sacrifice what is an “extra or luxury” in your life for living within your means. A baby makes all those things come into REAL honest perspective. I found I could survive without 150 channels of TV, and a smartphone, and a Car loan, and credit cards… and live within my means…

  • ACE

    Our perspectives are based on what we have as a comparison in our surroundings. While I am not rich or in NYC, or agree or sympathize with those you quoted I do wonder what the point of this post by Learnvest really is? Are we supposed to whine and complain about other people’s perspectives of their world? I don’t know how that is productive for anyone involved. This is how you lose credibility as a source of useful information, Learnvest. tsk, tsk, tsk  

    • ncdoula

      I agree, I thought this forum was ti HELP us learn how to MANAGE our lives, finances,resources, etc… better.. kind of at a loss here

  • ACE

    Our perspectives are based on what we have as a comparison in our surroundings. While I am not rich or in NYC, or agree or sympathize with those you quoted I do wonder what the point of this post by Learnvest really is? Are we supposed to whine and complain about other people’s perspectives of their world? I don’t know how that is productive for anyone involved. This is how you lose credibility as a source of useful information, Learnvest. tsk, tsk, tsk  

  • Anonymous

    The economy has rocked my family, but I’m keeping my perspective.  I lived in a developing country for a while, and it forever changed the way I think about what I have.  People there could only dream of the comfort and opportunity I enjoy.  My fulltime housekeeper  supported herself and the grandson she was raising on $115 a week, and my neighbors there said I was grossly overpaying her because I was a foreigner (they paid their workers a good bit less).  When I went to shopping, I saw people fight each other and dogs for the scraps from the dumpster behind the market; and you have to understand, in that part of the world toilet paper was mixed in with the trash.  Not to be preachy, but in America relatively few of even the very poor are forced to do anything like that to survive.  So whenever I feel sorry for myself because it’s hard to find a job, I look at the house that I own and my family’s three (old) cars and the fact that I have a ton of opportunity even in this economy, and I think, as long as I’m not fighting for scraps in the dumpster behind the market, I’m OK. That’s my bottom line.

    • Ncdoula

      I TOTALLY agree with you. I’ve ben saying this for MONTHS. Especially when it comes to the “Occupy Movement” and the “We Are The 99%” group.
      NO YOU AREN’T… The third world countries are the 99% and we American’s for the VAST, VAST MAJORITY are in the 1%… don’t kid yourselves.
      We don’t know what it’s like to walk 5 miles one way for clean water..
      or watch or child die from malnutrition or diseases that can be treated with immunization… or have at least a meal ot two a day… not one a week.

  • Anonymous

    The economy has rocked my family, but I’m keeping my perspective.  I lived in a developing country for a while, and it forever changed the way I think about what I have.  People there could only dream of the comfort and opportunity I enjoy.  My fulltime housekeeper  supported herself and the grandson she was raising on $115 a week, and my neighbors there said I was grossly overpaying her because I was a foreigner (they paid their workers a good bit less).  When I went to shopping, I saw people fight each other and dogs for the scraps from the dumpster behind the market; and you have to understand, in that part of the world toilet paper was mixed in with the trash.  Not to be preachy, but in America relatively few of even the very poor are forced to do anything like that to survive.  So whenever I feel sorry for myself because it’s hard to find a job, I look at the house that I own and my family’s three (old) cars and the fact that I have a ton of opportunity even in this economy, and I think, as long as I’m not fighting for scraps in the dumpster behind the market, I’m OK. That’s my bottom line.

  • Michelle

    Wow this is very interesting. My mind is just completely amazed at that forum.

  • Mary

    They are not out of touch with reality because they are in NYC they are out of touch with reality because they are rich and are not aware of how others are living.  I know plenty poor NY’ers who would be sick at these complaints.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! 

    • Anonymous

      Agreed.  I know people who are living in or just outside of NYC and are getting by on MUCH less.  It really seems to be a matter of mistaking “wants” for “needs.”  You don’t NEED a car in NYC, you don’t NEED a $5000/month apartment.

      How can you burn through $3500/month when you’ve already covered the big expenses such as rent and private school tuition???  Probably by going out to eat every night, buying expensive clothing, etc.  Which is fine, if they have the money, go ahead and do it – They have a right to spend that money how they see fit – but to turn around and whine about how poor they feel because of their expensive lifestyle is just insulting.

  • Anonymous

    Wealth truly is a state of mind.  Not all New Yorkers are among the wealthy.  There are thousands of young professionals just making ends meet, making well below $100K – maybe not $20,000 but even making a substantial $50,000 a year won’t get you very far.   

    Even if you work in the city but live outside commuting could cost $500/month so it is truly a grind.  I honestly can’t see how some of those listed in the article could consider themselves poor.  While I don’t consider myself poor being a young (married) professional living just outside of NYC, I’ve learned enough about money to make things work.  

    It really seems that the 1% have lots of money rolling in but have no skills in using it.  It makes me wonder who is giving all of this money to people who can’t figure out that they can’t have everything money can buy.  Even if you make $500k.  

  • farbarb

    I know I am currently no where near what I consider poor. As someone who grew up in Appalachia I have seen United States poor. I am truly blessed, my late husband continues to take care of me. However, I like many live at the precipice.

  • greed kills

    Absolutely disgusting. I agree with the poster who spent time in a third-world country; these people (and their undoubtably spoiled rotten, bratty kids) should be required to spend several months living in a third-world country (or even living in the ghetto, the barrio, or a trailer park in this country) to see what it REALLY feels like to be poor, so that they will learn to be greatful (and maybe even feel a little guilty) about all the riches they have. I used to work for a doctor who made enough money to live a very comfortable lifestyle and send his kids to private school, but every year he would spend several weeks in the Phillipines providing free medical care to families who lived in cardboard shacks with dirt floors. He would make his kids come with him to help, so that they would understand that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. He wanted them to understand that those who have been blessed with wealth have an obligation to share their good fortune with others. He had a plaque on his desk that said: “To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected.” Whatever happened to that? Why have the wealthy in this country become a bunch of selfish pigs who care for no one but themselves?  

  • Anonymous

    I am in NYC and I live on the lines of the city boundaries.  The fact that these people think their income is insufficient is ridiculous.  I make $1200 a month after tax for a family of 3.  However, I had a better job previously and thanks to savings, we have our retirement funds maxed out for the last four years and also are able to live right now, happy to share time together, cook nice meals at home together and watch a movie at home together.  Our daughter attends public school.  We would love to take a nice vacation but for now everyone is happy and healthy.  We don’t go to the doctor and spend our money on organic foods, it has kept us out of any serious illnesses for the last three years.  When you eat right, you don’t get sick as often, and though there will be an occasional cold or sore throat or ear infection, we choose to treat it holistically and “ride it out” rather than running to the doctor for antibiotics.  I realize this is not possible with something life threatening, but so far we have been very blessed.  I think the point of all of this is that you learn to live within your means and the more you have, the more you spend, so people change their frame of mind on what is a necessity, but when you have to live without you will learn to do so and though we all have our ups and downs, some will realize that money and happiness do not have to go hand in hand.  Yes I would like nicer things and more income, but I cannot let that be the only source of happiness or I may be waiting awhile to be happy…

  • Rachylou

    I think they probably have it right. What you’d shell out for a big house (with enough lawn to need a mower you drive) in Ohio – in NYC, you’d get a one-room studio (i.e., a hovel to the rest of the country) to put you, your husband, and new baby in. What’s delusional is all these people flocking to NYC, thinking anyone cares what’s happening there and to be there is to have arrived, so that they create an insane local market like that and are, in fact, peasants.

  • Deb Baverstock

    I do find their attitudes kind of amazing.  Although my family is not very far above the poverty line, I feel we are doing OK.  Of course, while both me and my husband were both working full-time (before we had children) we made a concerted effort to pay down debt (most of which was accumulated while we were both single). Also we live in the midwest in a smaller metro area where rents are not so high. So, today, even though we only make about 33,000 a year we are able to make ends meet (though just barely).  I think we are still really lucky though.  My husband is making enough that I can stay home with our kids, one of whom was diagnosed as Autistic and needs special in-home therapy.

  • mayor

    I grew up in a little place called Boca Raton Florida. Moving there from NY when I was 4 years old, it was paradise. I grew up, went to school, and got married there. Although it is my home, I was not going to try to keep up with the Jones’. I wanted my girls to know what the real world is, not some “unrealistic bubble” of a city. We now live in NC and the only thing I really miss is the ocean. My girls are well adjusted and know the value of a dollar.
    Sometimes we sacrifice the unimportant for what matters most.

  • Jane Hopke

    I think the comment on that board that floored me was the one from the $350k woman who was justifying having two homes by saying “Most poor people have two homes.”

    Excuse me?  I live in the higher end of the middle income bracket, which is far from poor, and I’m still saving up for the possibility of buying home #1 (though I go back and forth on that…not sure if I want the committment and work of buying a house).  I live in the Memphis area, so the cost of living is relatively cheap, so I understand that it takes more money to live comfortably in NYC, but still…that chick is totally out of touch.

  • Spooneyd

    first of all, I live in “the Empire State” and I can assure you, I make no where near what these people make and are still complaining about. While people in NYC whine about their 6 figure plus salaries and paying for private school for their children, those of us who live in Upstate NY that make the low end of the 5 figure salaries are scraping by and we send our kids to public school.I have no empathy for people who make 12 times (or more) money than I do and still complain. I would like to see any of them live on what I make per year, living paycheck to paycheck.

  • Dgcastor

    I have been subscribing to LearnVest for a while and I really enjoy the information and advice. I will never understand how somebody can be making 6 figures a year and not be able to make ends meet. Granted, more money would probably allow me to improve my standard of living, I just don’t see it driving me into the ground. Perhaps I’m too simple?

  • Anonymous

    Everyone lives their own lives, that being said NYC is far different than Kansas.  What is poor there may be rich here.  I feel no ill towards any of them, each has probably made their money through hard work, and they live the means that I hope they can afford.  I have three kids, one who is a multi millionaire, one who makes almost  $ 350,000 a year and one who lives pay check to paycheck.  Each has worked hard their whole life,and have chosen their paths in life.  The pay check to paycheck is just out of school and will find his way as the other two did.  I look at it this way, if you are complaining at how someone else spends, or lives with their wealth or lack of, you are NOT happy with your own life.  It is YOU and YOU alone who can change how you live.  Those who make millions MAY NOT have funds available to spend  at will,  while those making less do have that available to them.  IF you are busy  tending to your own life, you have no time to judge or run someone elses.

    • DisgustedAndDumbfounded

      if for some reason the reply i left which took me close to 45 minutes to type out does not get posted here for voicing a strong opinion i simply will say i feel you should take a long moment to re-reread what you have written here and try to understand why it sounds completely unrealistic. not how much money your sons make, good for them. the part about You controlling Your life. thats not really true. tell that to anyone living in a third world country or the inner city. i hope this doesnt get disapproved by a moderator and even moreso my long explanation of why i had  just previously typed out but understand that this is never the case in any situation else people wouldnt drop dead instantly they would simply will themselves to continue breathing. (moderator if you could be kind feel free to delete this and leave my prior remarks. thank you)

      • Anonymous

        Hi there,

        Your comment did not show up because LearnVest automatically filters comments for profanity. I’ve edited out the word and published your comment.

        Thanks for your understand,

  • sp

    if you read the actual thread, you’ll see that the posters featured on LV are actually derided by other NYCers who make similar salaries. I am not a fan of pointing fingers or making generalizations. there are plenty of well-off people in NYC who understand how lucky and fortunate they are, do not spoil their children, and donate to charity. FYI, i am MC and not a NYCer, so not really defending my crowd. a few bad apples do not represent an entire subsection of the population. let’s be fair.

    • DisgustedAndDumbfounded

      granted the cost of living here in scranton pa is far far less than nyc i still dont understand how to be fare when most people i know who work hard either have to move back with their parents and split the bills. cant get a job even with a college education, or just plain cant make more than maybe 2-3 thousand a month tops even with working overtime. so i apologies if i dont understand how fare comes into play here. if your making that much money you do have the option to move to a place where your cost of living is reduced in exchange for an hour trip to the office. i know people locally who drive that far or more and back 5-7 days a week to work as bread truck delivery men or as machine shop workers just to barely get bye so im sorry if i find no excuse for this especially considering outside of the major major cities is quite a vast expanse of unpopulated area and mobile home communities that would cut back immensely on their cost of living expenses (the only excuse i can think of is the ungodly traffic in nyc)

  • HuddleVA

    Didn’t anyone else catch this omission -  Of the $650,000 they SAVE the bonus and SPEND the base ($275,000).  The SAVED BONUS is $375,000 pre-tax.  So they “rip through” $275, poor things, and might have to dip into a much larger bonus (even post tax) if life gets rough.

    “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.”

  • RedHothero

    Man- who wants to loan me 1mil for a year? I could live off the interest o.o (single father, war vet),

  • Anon

    I live right across the river from NYC and work there.  Having spent a few years in the area, I have seen that being in NYC puts ENORMOUS pressure on some people to “fit in” and buy items and spend time at places they can’t afford to seem “New York”.  It’s very sad, because many of these people were raised in typical suburbs doing simpler things.

    Even if you are frugal, though, NYC can be a hard place to be.  Rent is VERY high for anything decent.  Everything costs more, groceries, taxes, even fast food restaurants.  So even if a family makes a good salary, I can see how it can be hard to get by.  But of course, they choose to be there.  I think they complain because everything is relative- sure you might
    have 650K a year (I wouldn’t even KNOW what to do with that much
    money!), but it’s not a lot in comparison to the other family who makes
    10 times that.

    No one is forcing them to stay.  The suburbs surrounding NYC are also expensive, but they are much cheaper, have good public schools and have easy access to NYC by train or bus. 

    • DisgustedAndDumbfounded

      thats really how it is with grown adults none the less? im officially embarrassed to be a part of the human species… wow i could never imagine putting up with that no wonder theres so much violence in heavily populated areas with mindsets like those.. as as i’ve stated in another comment its amazing how much land is not populated in this country alone and no one in the city seems to be aware of it apparently. i’ll stick to my smaller city thank you very much

  • guest

    Wow, this is the most ridiculous, SAD, and of touch story I have read in a long time. All those people need to get a grip. NYC is ridiculous. I live in LA and thought here was hard enough to find work and be able to pay rent, let alone actually buy a home or have children. I may never get to have children because I simply don’t make much money and the men I meet also don’t want the financial responsibility of children. These big cities are starting to make me really sad and the people who really have money or who have the ability to help others, have their heads up their asses. When I have been out of work, most of the people and friends who have been most generous with time, meals, and their homes have not been my wealthy friends. My wealthy friends have all been rude or disappeared. Goes to show who are good people and who are not. Most of the wealthy people I know also make their money in very corrupt, gross or inhumane ways and I’ve stopped spending time with them because they have no belief systems, they don’t believe in mankind, the planet, only themselves and being selfish. If that is how one has to be to feel successful and send kinds to private schools, I’d rather die. I will never live in NYC because people have to become so conniving and rude at best to retain the spine and disposition of hardened criminals in order to be successful and to feel good about themselves which at the end of the day, has NOTHING to do with being alive. Life isn’t about money, its about being honest, loving, and sharing with friends and family. These people pressuring themselves to outdo one another, have competative children, they are simply disgusting and fake. If only they could step back for a moment and see themselves. I shake my head in ambivalence towards this entire article and the idea of these sad people. They are ugly inside and outside.

    • DisgustedAndDumbfounded

      i still find it astonishing that these people living in the big cities dont know or understand that the vast majority of land in this country is unpopulated. i once drove from the north eastern end of PA  here in scranton to the south western end near Pittsburgh and inbetween i was lucky to see more than a handful of small extremely small villages for lack of a better term. we really need to spread ourselves out more, believe me if we did then these over populated impossible to escape from areas of the inner cities might start to disperse some and clear up making it overall better for everyone.

    • Susan B. Maziarz

       SO WELL SAID……………………………

  • Julie

    Well so sad for them. I mean, one or two vacations per year? That’s more than many people can get, when we’re talking about real vacations. Also, if you feel that you live comfortable, what’s the complaint? They should be grateful when many others struggle to live comfortable, defining comfort in a way that probably barely approximates that of these “1%” families.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand why a family of 4 with an income of $275K is RENTING. If they owned, their mortgage payments would be less than half the rent if they bought a place in the ‘hood they live in now.

  • DisgustedAndDumbfounded

    i survive on a fixed income of under 13,000$ a year and dont feel that poor compared to a vast growing number of people i know that survive on far less and thats not even in the low income or no income areas that are increasingly becoming larger and larger. how in the name of Christ can anyone making that much money be absolutely delusional to think they are even REMOTELY poor!?!  for a single male middle aged ill be flat out with my bills. 375 a month for rent, 40 for electric give or take, 55 for internet, 55 for phone, 30 a week on food give or take and however much it costs to keep my Feline companion in good health and a few dollars for leftover to spend or save for a backup plan if something goes awry with my finances otherwise. im not even sure i’ve seen $350,000 in my lifetime overall let alone in a single years income. i guess either they are Reeeeaaaaaally living beyond their means, are horrible at managing their finances or are just all around not too bright. why can i live with such a low income and not complain too much? i dont see any reason to get a larger place. if i wasn’t single and had a family it would be one thing but theres no reason to have more than one room per child or even 2 to one room, 1 bedroom for you and your spouse, a kitchen a bathroom a living room and some storage space, anything more is just plain decadent and sure you can always say you simply want something better than how you lived prior to being able to afford such but thats the absolute poorest self centered excuse i know of trust me ive used it. im honestly at a loss for words after reading this i truly am. i dont know what else i can really say here or if theres a point. simply, take a long solitary walk through an area like Patterson  NJ if you ever get the chance or Spanish Harlem and if your complaining about not having enough money even making 50,000$ or more a year with a spouse and child supported by it then ask yourself how these people in such areas are managing to survive surrounded by drugs poverty and violence then ask yourself why we are letting this happen in a country thats headed twards third world standards in the next 3 or 4 generations tops if this keeps up. as i’ve said i survive on a fixed income without help from anyone for under 13 thousand a year, granted where you live factors in as a variable in expenditures but if your making that much you have the option to move unlike people like myself unless downsizing to a hotel room. most of the people i know survive off of less than what i do and this isn’t even an area in complete poverty or close to some of the areas iv witnessed in such a state. seriously im embarrassed by these people and dumbfounded. i mean no disrespect to anyone but its very hard to keep a composure that doesnt ooze bitterness not out of jealousy for the money they have that i dont but out of sympathy for a seemingly oblivious minded decadent bag of morons who desperately need a really strong reality check.  its not the 70′s or 80′s anymore….

    • Susan B. Maziarz


  • Tina Odom

    I live in a very small community (200) in a rural area of the midwest. My fam & I read this article with just a little bit of shock. We thought we were doing okay, until we read that people who live in nyc and are making 6-figure or more salaries are poor. fr the first time in 12 years, I am able to work, and am getting off disability. My monthly disability check? Less than $700 a month. We also received food stamps and state healthcare. Now that I’m working, everything but the state healthcare (medicare only) is gone. My dd is now old enough to work, and with her income and mine, we make just barely over $10,000 a year. We feel so lucky to have that, and to be off food stamps. We grow our own vegies, and buy second hand when we can, but we are paying down my student loans and beginning to see a light at the end of a very long tunnel. We are hoping that soon my husband will be able to return to work after a fall from a ladder put him out for 18 months. I’m trying to think of the nyc people who feel poor with all they make and remind myself that the grass in nyc isn’t the same shade of green as it is in S. IL. It

    • Susan B. Maziarz


  • Get real

    I live in manhattan on the upper east side. We are a family of 2 academic doctors with a pre tax income of 300k and a daughter who goes to public school, and yes in NYC that does mean that that you live a more modest lifestyle than many around you but I don’t feel poor or pinched…I do admit to a little designer clothing/accessory envy at times….:).
    Urban baby moms, have some perspective beyond your enclave!

    • Susan B. Maziarz

       HERE, HERE!!

  • Loony Buns

    There is one bottom line here that as much as people understand others that I have read don’t understand. NYC is made up of different people and standards. It is not only crowded and expensive. Cause trust me when I say that the restaurants, shows, clubs, drinks, grocery store, and especially the RENTS are incredibly expensive to live there. I lived in manhattan/upper east side for practically all my life and with just me and my mom we didn’t even total close to a 6 figure income. But yet we still lived comfortably and had vacations from time to time. It’s not the place itself it’s the mind of the person. I could feel disgusted with them but to each their own. They feel “poor” because they don’t know how to balance their budget properly. Some can budget their life better than others even with a 5 digit income and get to where they want to be. It’s all about planning, saving and knowing what you want. If they can do it, then hooray for them. If they bitch and moan then that is their own fault for not being happy with what they have. That’s just the bottom line. Be happy with what you have. If you aren’t then don’t bitch and moan and do something about it to get to where you want to be. Lifes a struggle but it all comes down on your perspective of it and how you want to handle it. Oh and for the record? There are a lot more poor people who are just trying to get by even with 5-6 digit incomes because of how expensive NYC has become. So don’t you dare think that all NYC people or people who live there are rich with 6 figure incomes because it’s not true and a false fact. Plus the pollution there doesn’t help either. This is coming from a fellow ex-new yorker. =D

    • Susan B. Maziarz


  • Laura Napolitano

    This is stupid. I was born, raised, educated, and matured in NYC and know folks ranging from starving student-artists to stockbrokers who live vibrant lives without complaining as much as these folks do. Please don’t lump New Yorkers with these shallow, old-money types. My family used to work for people like this. These are the kinds that throw away hundred-thousand dollar custom pieces of furniture and renovations because they are the “wrong color.” These are NOT the norm in New York. 

  • Erin

    Although I make a fraction of what the people in this article bring home, I can entirely relate sometimes.  I’m fortunate enough to make a good salary, but sometimes when I look at my peers who have more, I feel like I don’t make nearly enough.  Or I’m shocked at how quickly the money goes and how little I can afford.  On the other hand, when I really think about where I land in the grand scheme of things, I feel wealthy.  Any feelings of inadequacy or being strapped come from my own lifestyle decisions or my frame of reference.  I think a lot of us get caught in this trap of comparing our paycheck and lifestyle to those who “have it better”.

  • mercury

    i was born in a third-world country and came to america as a kid, now in my early 40s and in the top 1% in nyc. (this is not to brag, there is a point to this).

    i have been on both sides of the fence, my father made about $4,000 per year in the 3rd world, ie upper middle class. we had heat, electricity, and plumbing. we still had a tight budget and could not do anything fancy, obviously no cars.  no dishwasher or laundry. limited clothes. i had about 4 toys, all equivalent of $1-2, which was considered a luxury. at the time we were happy but when we came to america, we were shocked that even at the poverty level here, life is much better. in fact, the person in the u.s. making $30k per year is doing so much better than most of those in the rest of the world, u don’t realize it. on average u r making about 15-30x as much as the per capita income of several large third-world countries. 

    now none of the people in america making $30k a year consider themselves rich but when my grandfather visited here, he was very surprised at how rich we were. that was 1987 and my father’s income was about $30k per year. also keep in mind, in his city at the time, he was one of the richest people in the a town of almost 1 million people. 

    finally, i was taught to study hard, and went through years of education (over a decade) and now make in the high 6-digits. i basically make about 20-30x what my father made 20 years ago or 100x what he made 35 years ago. i consider myself extremely lucky but i live in manhattan and money goes fast. i’m definitely not struggling to survive by any means nor are these other 1% posters even though they may think it. i think what goes through your mind, is, “i make a ton of money. how come the budget seems so tight”. this is a valid question. in nyc it is not uncommon for a 40 yr old to make $300k per month or $4+ million per year. so in that sense again, u r surrounded by people making 5-10x what u make even though u r in the 1%. imo, it’s this comparisinitis that causes MOST problems in life.

    my point is that this never stops. at all levels, u can find a reason to be unhappy. forget about the money. find a way to enjoy your life and do something good for those around you and be happy that you have the chance to live and see the sun rise every day. ever since i started thinking this way, i have felt much better. i do not waste time worrying about paying taxes or picking up bills for other people, i’m just trying to enjoy whatever time i have been blessed with. if my parents could do it with 100x less than what i have now, i can too. 

    as a final note, don’t be so harsh on those 1%ers who are complaining (as they have been inflicted with a mental disease called comparisinitis). there are over a billion people in the world who can point the same finger at you if u make over $10k per year in america. instead just don’t get infected by it. 

    • guest

      Very well written and insightful piece. This should be included in the article. Well done

    • dac885

      Yes but you got everything for free

  • lotusmoon

    I actually understand this although I’m in a completely different income category.  About 5 years ago I was living in London with my investment banker boyfriend, our combined income was about $250,000.  We lived in a cramped 1-bedroom flat, okay, we both had cars, but essentially we weren’t living all that spectacularly.  Then we broke-up, my own income is a quarter of our combined income, but in leaving that situation my lifestyle improved dramatically, even though I had to share a flat out in a much less desirable part of London, and get rid of my car.  I owe it to friends, my social connections, and all those things you can’t buy.  Now I’m spending a year without money, without work, living in a Buddhist monastery AND this makes me even happier, being without ANY money. I feel richest of all now.  Funny that. 

  • CrankyFranky

    wow – lol ! thanks for a breakfast laugh !

    words like ‘hedonic treadmill’ and ‘psychological adaptation’ come to mind – Rolling Stones – ‘I make so much money, but spend it so fast !’

    let me see – last time I looked at before they made you choose a country – the average world income was like $800pa – meaning half the world’s population earns/lives on less than $1kpa – so for a NYC mom to moan ‘under 1Bil in savings in NYC, and you cannot buy anything’ looks like a kind of wilful blindness – in her ‘world’ of aspiring billionaires (wait – aren’t all USians?) – it’s just awful if you have to scrape by without that $1b in the bank’ – OMG, how can I survive (another cocktail evening) ?

  • redsongia

    It’s true that earners on the high end of the earning spectrum live in expensive cities to be close to those high paying jobs. In NYC, you also pay a city tax on income, on top of state and federal tax. It’s easy to go through all your disposable income, which is what this family seems to be complaining about, but they also yada yada yadaed right past the 275k bonus they “try” not to spend each year, which means they are probably investing it so they can someday leave NYC and the rat race with millions in investments.

  • Christian

    In today’s society, it doesn’t matter how much people have; most people will have a constant yearning for more money. They want to send their children to expensive private school, live in an overly spacious house, have a nice car, go on fun trips, buy the newest technology, and the list goes on and on.

    No matter how much these people have, they will always want more because they are driven by a sense of materialism. If people simply accept the fact that money and/or material objects do not bring about true happiness in life, we would be so much happier.

  • Emily

    I make $24,000 after tax in NYC with no benefits and I feel rich and have plenty. I can even SAVE. So, suck it, rich people. Really.

    • dac885

      Well stop living with mommy and daddy and see how you turn out

  • nikki

    The rich should,t complain they have enough to live on what about the poor like the rest of us we struggle many don,t know where their next meal is coming from while others worry about a roof over their heads many across the countru struggle like this and the rich complainging Ihave no pity for them. they own as many homes and go on vacations when they want many of them own businesses and still want sympathy from the rest of us please if many of us had half of what they have maybe life would be alot differant they need to stop winning I will sympathize with the ones that have not anything.

  • dac885

    You make 530k anually or 1million or whatever and say you are broke and poor. But it is people like you who make it impossible to live in the 5 boroughs of nyc for the rest of us the real new yirkers born and bred because you pay so much for rent and and car insurance and luxury cars and everything else.spending and sprnding on crap and everything goed up cause of you people.Pi am a working man I nske 80k a year I work for nyc dsny and can’t even afford to luve in the city I work for because of you dit there and say things that are absurd. But I cannot afford rent even outside manhattan of 2k a month eith other bills and expenses 80k after taxes is about 48k but I am sure you like having your garbage picked up twice a week and streets cleaned. And everyone else like your mail being delivered. And cops and firemen. But you don’t think about anyone but yourself. I Guarntee you do not even bother to tip your mailman or garbage man. So go ahead and give thousands a month for rent to live with rats and roaches and make the other 90 percent of us suffer boo whoooo I feel so bad for you. Get a clue before you say things that make no sense ny is losing population and becoming unlivable because if people like you so pretty soon only people who make 500k plus can live in nyc and then you will and yourself hmmm where is my mail why is my garbage not being picked up. And the answer is because of people like you normal people cannot live here. Only the wealthy and poor can ,the wealthy get tax breaks and bonuses and more interest and the poor get everything for free that leaves the rest of us paying for the poor and making up for the wealthy tax breaks thats why 80k becomes 48k.

  • Winter

    My husband, son, and I lived for the past three years on 11,000 dollars a year. You read that right. I coupon, we live modestly, and we only buy what we need. We also had temporary help paying insurance and phone bill from our lovely parents so that definitely helped make it possible. There’s such an insatiable desire in this country to have our children in the best schools, our trendiest cars in the most Pinterest worthy garages, and go to all the most popular hang outs. At the end of the day, who cares?! We were lucky enough to find a cheap apartment in a very nice, safe part of town. It’s an old building. The kitchen sink leaks, the lights flicker sometimes, and the drafts are horrible. We are, however, wonderfully happy. DH is finished with school and is now making 37k a year as of four months ago. And I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be SO nice to be able to go back to school and finish my science degree, to not to have to occasionally steal a roll of toilet paper from the university nearby or spend hours and hours clipping coupons and organizing them in binder form, but I feel happy with what we had. We grew as people during that time. I got creative with how I spent my days with my now three year old. I’d go to McDonald’s, buy a 99 cent beverage and let my son play in the playhouse. We spent loads of time at parks, taking hikes, volunteering, museums on their free nights, and living it up at the public library. We never bought cable, we instead set up a movie swap with friends’ old Disney movies so that the kid could see our favorite classics growing up. Hey, I want my son to get a first rate education just as much as anyone. However, I truly believe that no matter the setting, if children are taught to be curious, they will flourish! Open your eyes to the wonders of this world! Money is nothing but paper (albeit very helpful paper sometimes). I feel monumentally sorry for these people who have been sucked into keeping up with the Kardashians (or Joneses for the older folk). I think I’ll go hug my son, now and fix my loving husband his favorite pie. It’s the little things. Life is too precious, too short, and too fast to bother with such nonsense. Sometimes I think it’s the poor people who have a deeper understanding of true happiness. Because they struggle to survive, not keep up. And in that struggle you learn things about the amazing resilience of the human condition. Phew. Long post, sorry!