Rich or Poor – Can You Teach It?

by AustinMom

Will Your Child be Rich or Poor? 15 Poverty Habits Parents Teach Their Children

This came through my Facebook feed as it likely did for other totebaggers. I found the initial list of items of how the rich differ from the poor as interesting. However, the author then provides a list suggesting what we (parents and schools) should teach our children. I was expecting some level of parallelism between the two lists, but to me it seems that he went on to suggest what he thought was important. I noted that he did not suggest that parents attend back to school night, encourage academic achievement in order to make the honor roll, or instruct their children on proper flossing habits. What did you think of the list? Do you have other things you think are more important than the list the author provides?

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158 thoughts on “Rich or Poor – Can You Teach It?

  1. Um, isn’t it hard to network if you can’t use your cell phone? Just yesterday my twelve year old remarked that he wished his friends had phones so he could call them.

  2. I answered the questions as a wealthy person in just 4 out of the 15 metrics. What a random list! Nowhere does it talk about race, education level, marriage, income/asset level of parents–the real metrics of wealth v. poverty.

  3. I’m glad to know I’m not alone, Houston. I want to know what his definitions are for “wealthy” or “poor”.

    He mentions how financial literacy classes aren’t offered at schools. How many people here took a class like that (or it was integrated into another class)? How many schools offer that now?

    I know I took a financial literacy class as part of math class in 6th grade. I also promoted an updated financial literacy merit badge for the Girl Scouts in the early 2000s. The girls I worked with it were really excited to learn about it. I often wonder if those lessons stuck with the girls (the oldest girls I worked with then would be in their mid/late 20s now).

  4. Require that children save at least 25% of their earnings or gifts they receive.

    That seems like something Milo would write. The reality, as it was in my childhood, is that the poor kids would save their money and then some crisis would hit and their parents would take it all. The rich parents never needed to take the money so the kids could watch it grow.

  5. Why mention flossing?

    Executive function? He’s totally got his correlation and causation screwed up.

  6. We all know the key to becoming wealthy is the calculus track. :)

    Seriously, I agree with Rhode about financial literacy classes. I think they should be required in all high schools. As for yhr the article itself, I had 6 responses on the wealthy side.

  7. We fit right in except for Internet and TV. We watch a lot of reality TV. My favorite show this summer is million $ listing NY.

    I do think that Rhett mentioned a while ago that luck does play a role in life. I tend to believe that sometimes being in the right place at the right time is just luck. Same with health. I have friends that are obsessed with their health, but some have already dealt with serious health issues.

    I grew up in a lower class home, and I can see the differences between my mother/me. It was the HS and college that I attended that allowed me to take the road that she never took. She was married at 20, no college and divorced by 30. She has never really focused on her finances unless I pushed her to take care of something.

    It does help to have a family member or friend that can help you with decisions that take you down the “rich” path if you’re coming from the other side. I think Rocky is trying to do this for one of her relatives. It was my uncle that took an interest in me and helped with my college essays and even job search. This same aunt and uncle helped us with our first house search etc.

    It’s actually a little tricky now because we rarely listen to them any longer, but their advice during my teenage and college years helped me move out of the poor cycle.

  8. This guy is a CFP who has a lot of media exposure and a widely read book, and probably a decent income for disseminating common sense. He also manages his public persona very well – I can’t find any quick evidence of his personal history or non financial views.

    However, I did find a post that was interesting to me – a discussion of what makes someone “rich” as opposed to middle class or upper middle class – applies very much to our totebag milieu in which most of us have a clear internal ceiling on degree of indulgence or wants. This probably the best common sense list I have ever seen in print. I paste below

    If you meet all of these 12 tests, then you are a rich person:

    1. You no longer have to work in order to fund your lifestyle. If you work it is because you want to work, not because you need to work.

    2. The unearned income you generate exceeds your living expenses.

    3. You can afford to take the number of vacations you want to take during the year, irrespective of what that number is.

    4. You can afford any and all healthcare or medical costs that may arise for you, your spouse, or any family members, including the cost of long-term care inside or outside your home.

    5. You can afford to purchase new cars for you and your family without relying on bank loans.

    6. Even if you got divorced, it would not require that you or your family alter their lifestyle.

    7. If you wanted to, you could afford to pay college costs for all of your children or grandchildren without it affecting your lifestyle.

    8. You own your home and/or your vacation home outright. You have no mortgages for either.

    9. You can afford to meet large, unforeseen expenses, without it affecting your lifestyle.

    10. You have no financial constraints on your activities. You can do what you please, when you please, without considering the cost.

    11. You have zero debt.

    12. You no longer require life insurance, health insurance, or long-term care insurance. You can self-fund the costs associated with these types of insurance. If you carry insurance, it is either for estate tax planning purposes or to protect the assets you’ve accumulated.

  9. Fred models the wealthy thing:
    credit score, focused on at least one goal, attend back to school night, one or more children who made the honor roll, reality T.V., 80/20 rule, network 5 hours or more per month, wealth comes from hard work/persistence + some luck, responsible for (my) financial condition

    Fred models the poor thing:
    play the lottery, (don’t) floss every day, overweight by 30 pounds or more, spend (more) than 1 hour per day on recreational Internet use — Totebag!, don’t listen to audio books (commute too short; often have kid in the car), watch 1 hour or less of T.V. per day (not 6/day, but certainly >1)

    Fred agrees with these author’s keys to success:
    – Reassure children that mistakes are good not bad. Children need to understand that the very foundation of success in life is built on learning from our mistakes
    – Teach children that seeking financial success in life is good and is a worthwhile goal
    – Children need to learn how to manage money. Open up a checking account or savings account for children and force them to use their savings to buy the things they want. (some things…not every thing)
    – Teach children how to manage their time.

    The others, while admirable, seem too dogmatic to me.

  10. Interesting lists – I assume the flossing statistic is tied to self discipline. Who wants to floss their teeth? You make yourself do it because you know it is good for you now and in the future.

    The networking idea is one that I wish I had been better at, but I was too shy. I have seen how it has helped dd and ds when they networked on their own or through pressure from dh.

  11. Flossing is like braces. It’s a shame, but many Americans have no dental insurance. I’m not sure why teeth and gums are excluded from the medical care we all need. Everyone around here goes twice a year to the dentist, but that want the case when I was a kid because people couldn’t afford it.

  12. “Require that children save at least 25% of their earnings or gifts they receive.

    That seems like something Milo would write.”

    That seems like an unfair call-out. I haven’t written anything about requiring kids to do X or Y with their money. Plenty of others have talked about kid IRAs, or X percent of gifts go to charity…

    According to the author, I watch too much TV, including reality shows. I wonder what constitutes “reality show,” and is Lakefront Bargain Hunt really that much worse than a sitcom, or could it be generously classified as “focusing on at least one or more goal”?

  13. Flossing regularly became much, much easier after I gave in and bought the little disposable plastic flossers with the string suspended between the two ends.

  14. I think he should have started off the parents should set a good example. I also prefer instill in children the love of reading, excersize, and maintaining friendships.

  15. This just arrived in my mailbox from a local charity that assists those in need of housing.

    Join us for an informative workshop for the whole family!

    July xx, 2015 My town Senior Center

    Housing Corporation of My town is pleased to present a free financial workshop to families. Come and learn how to secure your financial future. Topics include how to budget, save, invest, build credit and control debt. There will also be an introduction to banking for children ages 6-12 and plenty of time for Q & A with the X—- Bank staff.

    Refreshments Provided — Free Raffle

  16. Lauren – I agree. Dental health is tied to so many other health issues. Why it’s not covered is beyond me.

    Flossing might fall under discipline, but since good oral hygiene is known to help with other health issues, it might be a question to ask about general health. Good oral health is connected to lower blood pressure, and high amounts of bad cholesterol (correlation). So if you floss and visit the dentist twice a year, you are less likely to have high blood pressure or excess bad cholesterol.

  17. Here are the definitions I found. “Corley spent five years studying the lives of both rich people (defined as having an annual income of $160,000 or more and a liquid net worth of $3.2 million or more) and poor people (defined as having an annual income of $35,000 or less and a liquid net worth of $5,000 or less).”

    I don’t think his research is very thorough and his sample size is small. My school offered consumer education, and studies comparing schools with and without finance education classes don’t show much effect of a class.

    Here’s what I would suggest.
    1) Choose friends with spending habits you can afford.
    2) Don’t have children until you are financially stable, or, if you want to maximize wealth, don’t have children at all.
    3) If you marry, marry someone with similar financial habits and goals.
    4) Think long-term and avoid debt as much as possible. If debt is essential, make sure it has a positive ROI. Understand interest and compounding.
    5) In the event of a crisis (car accident, medical issues, etc.), be upfront with your creditors, willing to negotiate, keep good records, and deal with your financial challenges. (Better yet, be born to Totebaggy parents who can bail you out in the first place!)
    6) If your relatives consistently make bad choices, don’t bail them out.

    I’m pretty sure listening to NPR or driving to work in silence vs. listening to audiobooks has no affect on long-term finances.

  18. I haven’t written anything about requiring kids to do X or Y with their money.

    I mean in general.

  19. I think just having a list suggest that success is correlated to effort, an affront to some on this board.

  20. We are empty nesters for the summer and we went for a walk last night in a town that is just a few miles away. Even though I know where we stand in a financial forced ranking of Americans, I felt like I was so poor compared to the people in this town.
    The list from Meme clarified it for me because I can’t cross off most of her list without working.

  21. 11. You have zero debt… Think long-term and avoid debt as much as possible.

    Wouldn’t that apply more to middle class people vs. rich people? I would venture to guess that most “rich” people – people with a net worth north of 10 million – are now or have been in the past using a considerable amounts of leverage.

  22. I think just having a list suggest that success is correlated to effort,

    It sure takes a look less effort for the tall, good looking, smart and amiable vs. those who are short, ugly, stupid and abrasive.

  23. You can afford to take the number of vacations you want to take during the year, irrespective of what that number is.

    You have no financial constraints on your activities. You can do what you please, when you please, without considering the cost.

    Combining these two criteria could easily make the admissions threshold for “rich” very high.

  24. Milo,

    I’d say $500k to $5 milion is middle class. $5 million to $20 million is “comfortable” and +$20 million is rich.

  25. Agree with Milo – his definition of what makes someone rich reads like a 12 year old or Robyn Leach wrote it. I expected to see “You have your own club house and more than 12 kittens” and “One Direction played at your Bat Mitzvah”. I think that list is about complete financial freedom. I tell my children, we have everything we need and most of what we want. We are rich. It may not feel like we are rich and yes there are a lot of people who have a lot more than we do but there are a heck of a lot more people who have a lot less than we do.

  26. I tell my children, we have everything we need and most of what we want. We are rich.

    I’d say you’re comfortable.

  27. Mr Corley used the metric supplied by WCE for his informal study – you do need numbers to divide the groups, but in a later post stated that the list of 12 items was a better way to evaluate wealthy versus well to do or UMC.

    I personally fail numbers 7 (pay for grandkids’ college) and in the details fail 4/10 – I can take as many vacations as I want but not at any price point or to any destination I want, and I am now on a strict net cash outlay limit for collection items (trade ins required), but otherwise I can do what I want without considering the cost. He also left out philanthropy entirely – his list is just the cut off for the first tier of modestly wealthy.

  28. I tell my children, we have everything we need and most of what we want. We are rich.

    That seems to imply that there is something unseemly in aspiring to a level of affluence above what you currently enjoy.

  29. I loved the part about how parents and schools are teaching kids to believe that the rich are greedy and evil, and that’s what causes the kids to not become rich. Sure. Sounds believable. Why, we have those discussions all the time at home, often prompted by homework from the “Think Pink: Socialist Principles for Today’s Youth” class. And look at me! I have to work to even afford the mortgage!

    It reminded me of a sample of a book I didn’t go on to buy (thought it was stupid) — http://www.amazon.com/The-Old-Money-Book-Spending-ebook/dp/B00C9PEJJ2 . Dude’s advice read like a list of stuff he personally approves of. Daily yoga is an Old Money habit? Are you sure you’re not confusing it with squash? And the claim that Old Money doesn’t tipple . . . I wondered how many examples of the breed he had actually met.

  30. I’m curious about how many people with liquid net worth of $3.2 million or more built their own wealth, and realizing that would be an analog variable rather than a binary one.
    1) Did the wealthy attend median-level public schools as children?
    2) Did they attend college and, if so, did they pay for it?
    3) Did they receive money (inheritances) or supply money (support for relatives) as young adults?

    I paid for my own college but my parents supplied housing during breaks, medical insurance, let me stay on their car insurance and pay only the portion for my car and offered good advice, for example, about what to do when a driver in Michigan caused minor damage to my car. (Michigan has weird insurance and the PhD chemist gave me her business card, admitted fault, offered to pay for my bumper and wrote me a valid check, so it turned out OK without involving insurance.)

    I suspect that rising from working class to top 1% in a single generation is rare. The tech leaders I can think of were upper middle class kids from good neighborhoods/families. Rhett is exceptionally rare.

  31. I’m very meh on the original article. It seems to me that rich people attribute too much of their success to their own efforts, and poor people attribute too much of their failure to bad luck. So I get impatient either way.

    I also think the relative ranking of resources and priorities comes into play, like we were discussing last week. I can worry about flossing (as a stand-in for longer-term health issues) and networking (as a stand-in for actively growing my career), because I have the time/money/energy resources to cover the more immediate needs. Actually, the networking thing made me laugh, as it assumes that you actually have some sort of profession to network within — I am envisioning that Starbucks worker profiled in the article on the new scheduling software trying to figure out what to network in, where to go, and when to fit that in given that she doesn’t even know in advance when she needs to be at work or will be sent home.

    I think there is a lot more that can be done and that needs to be done, and that some of the lessons in here are very valuable — delayed gratification, parental involvement, importance of education, work ethic, etc. But I fundamentally dislike lists that make success seem easy if you just do XYZ — because the logical conclusion is therefore, if you didn’t succeed, it must just be because you didn’t try hard enough.

  32. I loved the part about how parents and schools are teaching kids to believe that the rich are greedy and evil, and that’s what causes the kids to not become rich.

    It’s sort of true. You see that in a lot of the “do what you love” advice. You also have totebagers uncomfortable with the idea of aspiring to anything above their own definition of comfortable.

  33. I’m perfectly comfortable aspiring to a higher level of wealth, I just don’t take the actions/make the trade-offs necessary to follow through. At least for me, once I have “enough”, acquiring more money has to be balanced with other life factors.

  34. “I’m curious about how many people with liquid net worth of $3.2 million or more built their own wealth”

    At what age? By 30? Very few. By 60? A good number of them.

  35. It kills me, but I kind of have to agree with Rhett about the 1% issue. I was raised believing that the Quest for the Almighty Dollar was bad (or even worse: banal, bourgie, selling out). It took me until my late 20s to realize that companies are just collections of people, and the vast majority of those people are trying to operate ethically and do the right thing and make an honest profit, vs. lying/cheating/raping/pillaging.

  36. Wow, that is a Totebaggy list of admonitions! Limit junk food and TV, save your money. Doesn’t Rhett have some humorous term for this kind of hairshirt advice?

  37. Milo, I’m pretty sure 10x the percentage of people from RMS’s high school will have $3.2 million liquid net worth as people from my high school. I think the study’s author was trying to understand why, but he failed to consider geography. Three hours weekly of networking in Palo Alto is likely to be much more effective than a similar amount of networking in Muscatine.

  38. We had no sort of spending/saving advice in school. One of the best things my dad taught me was how to save, how compound interest worked (both with savings and with credit cards) and how to make less money work when we had to. I was able to get through undergrad without a bunch of credit card debt. While that’s not an astounding accomplishment, it’s something many of my peers didn’t manage, and I saw how much harder that made things.

    That said, it’s a totebaggy list, and I sort of grimace reading it– yet I’m teaching my kids a lot of those things.

    Milo– We buy those flosser things for the kids, too. So the 5 and 7 year old are now great flossers. Which I think is amazing because I never flossed at that age. I had to pick up the habit in college when I realized that part of being a real adult (TM) was taking care of that stuff.

  39. “It seems to me that rich people attribute too much of their success to their own efforts, and poor people attribute too much of their failure to bad luck. ”

    I tend to agree with Corley in general on this. If you think you can control your level of success, you’re much more likely to make the effort necessary to be successful than if you think your outcome is predestined. Luck of the draw will only get you so far.

  40. “That seems to imply that there is something unseemly in aspiring to a level of affluence above what you currently enjoy.”

    No it is about not being an a$$hole and appreciating what you have. You will never be satisfied if you are always looking at what you don’t have. My dogs live better than most people in this world. I’d say we are rich. I don’t want that kid in a Mercedes on an iPhone complaining about all the stuff they don’t have. Work hard, be successful but appreciate what you have. At some point you will make yourself crazy if you don’t learn how to be satisfied. At most steps along my adult life I’ve looked around and thought “this is pretty, pretty good. If I don’t ever have more than this, it would be ok.” Now things have improved a lot since I started out, but I think I could have still had a very happy life with what we were doing when we started. It isn’t all about the money.

  41. At some point you will make yourself crazy if you don’t learn how to be satisfied. At most steps along my adult life I’ve looked around and thought “this is pretty, pretty good. If I don’t ever have more than this, it would be ok.”

    You seem to imply being more ambitious would be wrong and or harmful.

  42. “I’m pretty sure 10x the percentage of people from RMS’s high school will have $3.2 million liquid net worth as people from my high school.”

    For starters, they’re much more likely to inherit all or part of a home worth well upwards of $1M.

  43. I’d say $500k to $5 milion is middle class. $5 million to $20 million is “comfortable” and +$20 million is rich.

    You also have totebagers uncomfortable with the idea of aspiring to anything above their own definition of comfortable.

    My take is that is that totebaggers are very comfortable with the idea of aspiring to make more money, they just don’t want to admit it. So they come up with a definition of middle class that most people would consider to be “rich” so they can continue to deny that they are upper class.

  44. You can be satisfied and still ambitious and hard working. Or do you think that ambition is driven entirely by dissatisfaction?

  45. “My take is that is that totebaggers are very comfortable with the idea of aspiring to make more money, they just don’t want to admit it. So they come up with a definition of middle class that most people would consider to be “rich” so they can continue to deny that they are upper class.”

    That makes sense.

  46. You can be satisfied and still ambitious and hard working.

    I’ll give you hard working but not ambitious.

    Ambitious :having ambition; eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal, etc.

    If you’re satisfied then you typically aren’t “eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth” above the level you currently enjoy.

  47. Financial literacy classes, now mandated by most states have not really shown to improve financial decision making. Based on my observation, the instruction is probably mediocre.

  48. I think the problem with financial literacy is the same problem we see when we try to teach career planning strategies to our undergrads – they simply don’t believe it.

  49. Correction: Financial literacy is part of most state ed. standards, but stand-alone courses are only required in about half the states.

  50. Financial literacy is not a one-size-fits-all course, and mandating it means utter boredom for many children with common sense. Unit cost per ounce at the grocery store, creating a budget and filing a 1040-EZ tax return may get you out of the bottom quintile, but in the top quintile, you need to consider taxes, credit cards/scores, umbrella liability, college savings, etc.

    I strongly oppose financial class requirements unless there’s a test-out option.

  51. “My take is that is that totebaggers are very comfortable with the idea of aspiring to make more money, they just don’t want to admit it. So they come up with a definition of middle class that most people would consider to be “rich” so they can continue to deny that they are upper class.”

    Personally, I want my kids to aspire to make a lot of money and become rich, but I don’t want them to lose middle class sensibilities and values.

  52. but I don’t want them to lose middle class sensibilities and values.

    How would you characterize these to someone who had no idea about the concept?

  53. To add to what Milo said – and compare and contrast them to the values and sensibilities of the wealthy.

  54. “Ambitious :having ambition; eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal, etc.”

    Being satisfied with what you have means that your primary motivator isn’t necessarily money. My husband doesn’t go to work every day just for the money. He has professional goals that he wants to achieve and works very hard at. The money is the secondary benefit of achieving those goals. I have goals that I am working toward that don’t likely have much financial benefit. You don’t have to want to be rich to be ambitious. In fact if you look at a lot of successful people it is the professional challenges that motivate them not the money.

  55. Being satisfied with what you have means that your primary motivator isn’t necessarily money.

    Not at all. You can be satisfied with the money but not satisfied by how much power, professional esteem, etc. that you have. But, you’re still dissatisfied with some aspect of your life.

    Not to pick nits but you seem to have a very negative view of people who are primarily motivated by money and the things it can buy.

  56. “you seem to have a very negative view of people who are primarily motivated by money and the things it can buy”

    Rhett – It’s fun conversation, but I think that sometimes you’re looking for this to be true even when a person hasn’t given any reason to suspect that.

  57. Rhett, I don’t question anyone else’s motivation but in my life experience if you are not able to reach some level of satisfaction with what you have and where you are you will never be happy . If all you can see is what you don’t have then you will never be rich.

  58. So far, two kids going into 8th and 10th, no financial literacy in school except for one short project (2 days) on you are a ____ and you make ____, given other information find a place to live, and how to pay to get to and from work. No mention of eating at all.

    My kids get more from us and from scouting where the girls manage their troop funds.

  59. In answer to the question at the top of the post, you can teach people how to be top quintile instead of bottom quintile, but you can’t teach people how to be top 1% instead of top quintile.

  60. Off topic, working on my Living Will – ugh really difficult. Any advice on how to work through it? There are so many things to consider. My answers depend on so many variables – hard to put in black and white.

  61. If all you can see is what you don’t have then you will never be rich.

    I think there is a balance. Money and things it can buy do motivate a great many people. On the other hand it’s not healthy to focus on it excessively.

  62. The kids in my district learn about financial literacy in Family and Consumer Sciences. This text is from the NY state page about the topic. The teacher that is responsible for educating every kid in my district about how to cook and sew doesn’t seem like the “right” person to also teach about financial literacy. If this is the woman responsible for educating thousands of kids in my district about financial literacy (if they don’t learn at home)…they are in trouble!

    The mission of Family & Consumer Sciences Education is to prepare students for family life, work life, and careers in Family & Consumer Sciences by providing opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors needed for:

    Strengthening the well-being of individuals and families across the life span
    Becoming responsible citizens and leaders in family, community, and work settings
    Promoting optimal nutrition and wellness across the life span
    Managing resources to meet the material needs of individuals and families
    Balancing personal, home, family, and work lives
    Using critical and creative thinking skills to address problems in diverse family, community, and work environments
    Successful life management, employment, and career development
    Functioning effectively as providers and consumers of goods and services
    Appreciating human worth and accepting responsibility for one’s actions and successes in family and work life.

  63. Middle class sensibilities and values:

    I want my kids to be able to live comfortably and happily within middle class means.

    A lot of that would be being practical in their decisions. Don’t spend on stuff you don’t need or won’t use. Get full value from what you have. Set your priorities to make sure you can provide the basic necessities for you and your family,

  64. Lauren – My middle school home ec had all the same themes, and a fancier name than “home ec.” There was a chapter on child development, and probably something on budgeting.

    We also sewed a pin cushion.

  65. We didn’t specifically have a class in financial literacy, but we spent some time on that in my 8th grade social studies class.

    I remember distinctly that my teacher shared his mortgage statements with us, and explained how mortgages work. Back then, mortgages terms were almost universally 30-year fixed, so it was easier to explain than it would be now, but that was a real eye opener for me and extremely practical knowledge.

  66. Lauren, when I was in Home Economics, I learned that a dozen medium eggs has a fluid volume of 21 oz, large eggs 24 oz, extra large eggs 27 oz and jumbo eggs 30 oz and when the price difference per dozen was greater than 10 cents, lower price per unit was the better value. I still use this information when cooking, but it did not provide me with financial stability and the 10 cent rule of thumb is no longer valid.

  67. Thinking back to Home Ec – I think I sewed a pillow case holder. Is there such a thing? It was a turtle with head, legs, body, but the body had a slit in the bottom so you could put things – pillowcases? – in it.

    Gosh, what the heck was that thing?!

  68. They require PE in high school which I think is ridiculous. Would much rather high school PE be replaced by personal finance 101. It is a crime to send kids out into the world without it!

  69. I agree completely about the way in which middle class origin people keep moving the numerical goalposts for what constitutes wealthy as they age and become better off. I liked his list because he happened to hit on the one thing that makes me feel not wealthy. I can’t pay for my grandchildren’s college education. If I had enough money to do so – I have three already, say I get 5 total, that would be another million aftertax liquid. If I had it, I still wouldn’t be at 3 million dollars, below his numerical threshhold for rich, but I would consider myself rich. I can keep feeling virtuously middle class by making my own chicken stock from the carcass and driving my 10 year old Camry with a big scratch on the fender. I can say, I am not rich because when I arranged the 12 hour private jeep tour of northern Iceland I had to take several deep breaths before clicking on the payment button. But I clicked on it just the same and now that the credit card bill is paid the amount is forgotten. So I use the term comfortable, or the old term well-to-do. It covers a lot.

  70. “So I use the term comfortable, or the old term well-to-do. It covers a lot.”

    FIL will say “Well, we’re definitely not poor, but we’re CERTAINLY not rich.”

  71. It took me a few weeks as a MS parent to figure out that family and consumer sciences is a fancy name for home ec. My DD will have it once a year for one quarter. Fifth grade was sewing and she made a great pillow. I think cooking is 6th or 7th and they do spend 8th grade on the financial stuff such as budgets.
    Our MS is small, so it is just one teacher for the whole school. All of the kids will have her each year.

    I carved ivory soap in my 7th grade home ec class because the teacher wanted us to learn that the soap floats. My homeroom teacher one year in middle school was the cooking teacher. We used to take a quarter of typing….I wish they still spent just a week teaching the kids the right way to type on a keyboard.

  72. “They require PE in high school which I think is ridiculous.”

    I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. At least in my kids’ school, one of the goals of the PE requirement is to try to teach the kids about the benefits of maintaining an active, healthful lifestyle beyond HS. One thing they do in support of this is to expose the kids to a lot of different activities, in an attempt to have the kids find at least one that they can continue into adulthood, and they’re also taught about nutrition.

    I think that’s just as important as financial literacy.

  73. Lauren – typing was part of a different major at my HS – business management. I think those kids also learned some accounting basics and how to balance a check book. I taught myself to teach in college: “If I learn to type well, some day I may be a secretary”. I swear that was the practice sentence.

  74. @Finn, not opposed to kids being fit and active, but I think that by high school you are either that kid or not. I’ve never heard of anyone who said “I was bookish but then in high school PE the volley ball unit changed everything for me” What I see in high school is the active kids doing all the activities and the other kids just strolling around the track. Frankly I think the kids who do sports should also be exempt from PE.

  75. ” I can’t pay for my grandchildren’s college education.”

    At almost $300k/kid now, increasing at a rate exceeding overall inflation, that is quite a hurdle to being rich if you have grandkids.

  76. I remember that we learned about budgeting, how to write checks, and how to fill out a tax return in 7th grade math. I think that was about it for financial literacy in my school.

    I don’t think my kids have ever encountered this family and consumer science course, and we are of course in NY too. They get a class in Technology where they build stuff with wood, and a course on some weird idea of digital literacy and online research. But no home ec. I didn’t take home ec in my day either – very few kids did, in fact.

  77. “Frankly I think the kids who do sports should also be exempt from PE.”

    Two letters from a sport exempts a kid from a unit of PE. Three PE units are required, but up to two can be obviated by participation in sports. All kids are required to take the unit in which they learn about things like nutrition and health benefits of exercise.

    “by high school you are either that kid or not.”

    The kids who take PE are mostly the non-athletes, because the athletes get out of it. For a lot of them, it’s their first experiences in sports in which they’re not among the worst in the group, which for many of them opens their eyes to the heretofore unknown possibility that sports can be fun (I saw a similar thing in intramurals).

    They are also exposed to noncompetitive activities, e.g., yoga. From what I’ve heard, these PE classes can actually contribute to such change.

  78. “Frankly I think the kids who do sports should also be exempt from PE.”

    Also, there are PE classes specifically for participants in certain sports. E.g., the kids on the baseball team can take a “baseball conditioning” course and get PE credit.

    The generic PE classes are the ones populated by the non-athletes.

  79. I did my required HS gym credit in Washington State. I really liked their system – gym was offered as a bunch of specialty courses. You could take running, or tennis, or baseball, or gymnatics, or a number of other choices. I took tennis.

  80. Milo – I assume that the certainly not rich FIL is the same one who paid cash for the best lot, tore down the fence, donated to the common pier repair and then built his own private pier.

  81. This post has got me thinking. I’ll need to check with DS and ask him what he’s learned in school to date.

    I’m pretty sure that none of the classes required for HS graduation included financial literacy (unlike the explicit requirement for PE), so any such education in school would have been in MS or earlier.

  82. WCE, I never knew that about the eggs. I wondered, but I never bothered to look it up. very useful…thanks

    As for how to build up millions from 0, I think it is possible if you start early, and have very little debt. The programs to entirely pay for college for kids below a certain income didn’t exist in the same form when I went to college in the 80s. There were other programs (pell grant etc) that I did utilize to assist with college. As someone that was really not middle class, I qualified for a lot of grants. I did work study and I worked every summer, BUT I was restricted to $10k per year in private loans. That was the max at that time per year, and everything else was paid for via grants or scholarship. My mother did not have to take out any loans because her income was too low.

    Even though I went to work in a high COL city, my employer compensated me fairly for the work. Also, I was always at work so I had free dinners, cars home and I even received overtime until I was promoted to an officer. This same employer was willing to pay for graduate school, so i went part time and they paid for my MBA. no debt. This is a decision that I still think about because I was accepted to some grad schools that I really wanted to attend, but it saved a lot of money to work and attend part time. The money to cover my tuition was not even taxed because the bank paid it directly to the school as long as my grades were high. That same bank had an amazing 401k program; the bank gave a 2 for 1 match. I knew from my basic finance courses that every $ that I invested early in my 20s would compound like crazy, and this was an extra bump that cam straight from the employer.

    My retirement was off to a fast start, and my salary was keeping pace with my high COL city. One other key factor was that I didn’t marry or have kids until mid/late 30s. I have posted before that this wasn’t something I would choose, BUT it did fallow me to keep expenses low and I wasn’t spending crazy amounts on kids.

    I never earned anything close to what the silicon valley folks earn now, but I was frugal and I saved a lot of my early compensation. I really think the key to building up net worth is to start as early as possible because of the whole compounding formula. Then….just keep saving and saving.

  83. Meme – Yeah, that’s kind of the humor in the opinion, confirming the “shifting goalposts” theory. You and I have discussed finances a little. Take my parents, and multiply by 7 or so.

  84. Middle class and rich are partly defined by money and assets, but IMO are also partly defined, or at least self-defined, by values, state of mind, and history, among other things..

    Milo’s FIL does not think of himself as rich, but others do. This is not uncommon, especially among older people who gradually became rich after not being rich for much of their lives, and who were able to become rich by not acting as if they were rich.

  85. I actually think MS would be the perfect time for a financial literacy course. I sort-of joke about turning my kids out for three years of physical labor, but what I have seen is that my kids are *so* interested in figuring out the practicalities of real life as an adult — DD is asking all sorts of questions about how much our house cost and doing taxes and such, and she is thinking of/planning towards a car in a couple of years, etc. Plus she can now babysit and so has access to a more significant stream of cash should she choose to go after it (and, of course, now wants more clothes and phone stuff and movies and snacks etc. etc. etc., too). It just seems to be prime time for that kind of real-world training.

  86. Each season you play a sport = 1/2 PE credit. 1 PE credit required for graduation. Only 2 PE credits total can be counted for graduation – 1 for PE credit and 1 as an elective. At my DD school, sports is before and/or after school, depending on the sport so no regular class time is used. Oddly enough the brainy kids play sports so that they can take a full academic load. Not all of them are great at the sport, but they play.

    I took PE in HS before I got into band. Marching Band = 1 semester of PE back in the day.

  87. I’ve been thinking that junior year of high school will be “household finance management” in the WCE household, where child helps me review/pay bills, discuss medical insurance hassles, discuss disputing credit card charges/credit score, etc. We recently set up accounts for the boys at the credit union, which is way more complicated than it used to be. What do the rest of you do with your kids?

  88. Mooshi, I don’t think the home ec or family and consumer sciences is required in every district.
    Our kids are on a quarter system, and they take that class once a year for ten weeks. The other three subjects share that period are Art, technology and STEM (aka shop).

  89. Although I enjoy my job, I would not do it for free. DH would likely do his job for free, which baffles me and humbles me at the same time.

    In our school, we had a large and respectable financial education session in 5th grade. Boy Scouts requires you to make and keep a 6 week budget, and learn about different types of investments (risk/return, etc).

  90. Honolulu– That link about the hidden signs of class? I’m going to continue to call myself middle class for the foreseeable future. I can’t even fathom most of that. It occurs to me that even when things were closer to poverty level, we still all had middle class values when I was growing up.

  91. Everyone seems comfortable describing middle class values. But, how would you describe the values of rich people?

  92. “Oddly enough the brainy kids play sports so that they can take a full academic load. Not all of them are great at the sport, but they play.”

    DS originally planned to use sports participation to get out of PE so he could take more classes, but afterschool practices conflicted with the other activities in which he wanted to participate, so he decided to take PE.

    It turned out, his school doesn’t count PE classes against the max number of classes he’s allowed to take, so he still gets in the max number of academic classes, but has a much more full schedule than most, e.g., he usually eats lunch in class because on most days he doesn’t have a lunch break.

  93. To me, the values of the rich are similar to the values of the middle class, with more emphasis on philanthropy (both donations and serving on boards), tradition, and nepotism (helping your kids by hiring them, having your friends hire them, having your alma mater accept them, etc.).

    These are all things that middle class people would do, if they had more money.

  94. “Everyone seems comfortable describing middle class values. But, how would you describe the values of rich people?”

    Military service is for other peoples’ children. Yours are too delicate/sensitive/creative/whatever.

    Your kids can expect to enjoy a certain lifestyle regardless of their choices, and if you can buy them a starting position, all the better. I know one of PTM’s rainmakers who bought his DS his own restaurant after he finished culinary school. An old roommate of mine, a Notre Dame grad, Took me on a weekend trip to New York City when we were 22 to hang out with his old friend from college. Our third friend, from Duke, explained to me that this guy had had his father purchased his position as a Took me on a weekend trip to New York City when we were 22 to hang out with his old friend from college. Our third friend, from Duke, explained to me that this guy had had his father purchase his position as a stock trader, but I’m not familiar with how that works. He owned a 2-br doorman apartment in Manhattan, with a terrace.

  95. I’m feeling poor today because I’m locked out of my bank account, possibly until tomorrow. I feel I was “tricked” into this because of the way the bank security system is set up. This is beyond frustrating.

    To begin with, I need both my mobile phone and my computer for some bank transactions.

    To get into my online account, I must first get an access security code that is generated when I enter my pass code into the bank mobile phone app. But today when I tried to enter the access code to get online, I kept getting an error message. After I tried too many times I was locked out of my account.

    It turns out that the mobile app will generate an access code EVEN if I enter the wrong pass code. The bank tells me this is for “security” purposes. So I kept entering the wrong pass code, thinking it was correct because it kept generating access codes for me to use. If the app had given me an error message in the first place, I would have noticed that I was using the wrong pass code.

    And then to get unlocked I had to answer two security questions, one of which was, “Who do you most admire?”. Of course, I couldn’t remember the answer. So now I’m waiting for the bank to do whatever the heck they have to do to unlock my account.

    I’m just ranting, so this must all sound very confusing. I want to change banks, but it’s so much work that I keep putting it off. Right now I need a drink!

  96. ” I was always at work so I had free dinners, cars home and I even received overtime until I was promoted to an officer. This same employer was willing to pay for graduate school, so i went part time and they paid for my MBA. no debt.”

    My situation was similar. I went to school PT for my MS, paid for by my employer. While I was doing that I had very little time to spend money, so I was able to accumulate a down payment for my first house and fully fund my retirement accounts, providing me with a nice financial base for the rest of my life.

  97. Finn, I didn’t even think of that! It’s too late now, but maybe if they don’t call back today I’ll ask if that would help.

  98. The teacher that is responsible for educating every kid in my district about how to cook and sew doesn’t seem like the “right” person to also teach about financial literacy. If this is the woman responsible for educating thousands of kids in my district about financial literacy (if they don’t learn at home)…they are in trouble!

    Are you saying this because you know the teacher and don’t think she is capable of teaching financial literacy, or is this a general statement that any cooking/home ec teacher is not capable of teaching financial literacy?

  99. Milo & Finn,

    I think rich values would be when “the best” becomes your default. Also, rich people understand that you can buy anything.

  100. “Your kids can expect to enjoy a certain lifestyle regardless of their choices”

    Doesn’t the UMC do that now? Sure, there’s less money to buy a NYC apartment or a restaurant, but tutors, therapists, coaches, specialized sports equipment, expensive summer camps, travel sports teams, expensive weddings, help with down payment on house, tuition for grandkids, etc. The only difference is the amount of money you’re able to deploy.

  101. It drives me crazy that my kids’ school doesn’t teach typing. We all had to take it in 8th grade (on manual typewriters where it was impossible to get an “a” to show up on the paper) and I hated every minute of it, but it was the most useful class we had.

    It’s interesting hearing how PE is taught at other schools. We were all thrown into a random PE class, and they combined 9th and 10th grades into classes, and 11th and 12th were combined. So it was miserable for the non-athletic kids, especially in 9th and 11th grades. I really like the idea of the kdis on athletic teams being exempt so the non-athletes can be with kids of similar ability.

  102. I can beat everyone at the useless PE class. At my HS by state law all PE classes had to be coed and involve no physical contact. I took kite flying.

  103. We usually had girls and boys separated for PE, but when it rained they’d often cancel whatever was supposed to be going on and let us play co-ed earthball or flag football in the rain. Every, every time, the boys would say, “Shirts versus skins — girls are skins!” It never got old as far as they were concerned.

  104. It drives me crazy that my kids’ school doesn’t teach typing.

    I agree. Unless someone sits you down and makes you do it you never develop the most efficient typing style.

  105. Both my kids use a hunt-and-peck style of typing, which drives me crazy but seems to work for them. They can certainly text much faster than I.

  106. I support PE classes. At our high school, the varsity athletes are exempt and the other students can choose among several types of activities, including yoga, badminton, soccer, walking, pickleball, etc.

  107. Our wealth was all earned by dh through career successes and excellent timing. He is a product of the middle class and paid for his own college costs by working and getting loans. He and all of his siblings attended Catholic school, but college was certainly not a “must do” in his parents’ eyes (neither of them went to college).

  108. I took a typing class at the Y or someplace similar at 15. My kids learned typing on the 90s mac a program called mavis beacon teaches typing. I’m sure there is a free one now available for your computer.

  109. When DD completed elementary school, we told her we would get her a computer if she learned to type correctly. I think that I told her that she had to be able to type at least 40 WPM. I bought her a computer program for that and she learned in no time at all. Motivation is the key.
    Kids here are required to take PE in 9th and 10th grade, with driver’s ed being covered in 10th grade PE as well. Lots of kids take it during summer school. Four hours a day, four days a week for six weeks sure beats nine months of PE.
    Kids are required to take a personal finance class either junior or senior year. There is the regular class which ” will prepare students for a financially independent life beyond high school. Students will explore strategies for a job, budgeting, using credit wisely, buying cars and houses, and investing in the future. In addition, students will examine the fundamentals of a market economy, including the laws of supply and demand, production and consumption of goods and
    services, money and banking, and government spending and taxation.” or the advance class which will ” provides a comprehensive survey of the principles of economics, with special emphasis on the American economy and its participation in world markets. It examines the fundamental operations of a market economy, including the laws of supply and demand, the production and consumption of goods and services, gains from trade, market efficiency, forms of
    business organization, market structure, money and banking and government spending and taxation. The course will incorporate the proposed Standards of Learning for economics and personal finance.” Descriptions taken directly from student handbook.

  110. I don’t know what rich values are, Rhett. I suppose it is sheer obliviousness to money or what something costs. I think of my hedge friend’s family. They both grew up lower middle class. To some extent they still have those values. The wife always knows how many frequent flyer miles they have (and is very generous in giving them away). But as far as I can tell, they always travel on the fund’s jet. A stop to pick up Junior and me is apparently not a problem, but we’ve never availed ourselves of this privilege.

    It’s staying at the Boca Chica Resort or the Four Seasons, on your own– no expense account– without thinking about it. It’s about buying your sisters homes or at least guaranteeing the mortgages. it’s about giving your friend a credit card “just in case you or Junior have an emergency.”

    I don’t know what it’s like to live like that. But I do appreciate that my friends do it with graciousness.

    And Milo, two of their sons are in the military.

  111. CoC. that sounds really upsetting. I would be furious with the bank. That is very poor UI design. I actually had a similar experience with our schools lovely new online access center, which we are now all forced to use to get things like grades (but the teachers still don’t have to post useful information about assignments – just us parents are forced to use it)

    My credit card number was stolen last week. It is the first time it has ever happened to me. I am quite certain it happened because I paid for 2 cab rides in Portland with my credit card. The cabs were really creepy there.

  112. Denver, my comment was about this teacher. I am sure that there are some teachers that would be able to teach every subject, but she is not capable of that in this course.

  113. “The only difference is the amount of money you’re able to deploy.”

    I disagree. I’m not talking about camps and tutors; I’m talking about support for grown children, so the difference in *values* is whether you expect to deploy it at all under normal (non-hardship) circumstances and prior to the distribution of your estate. Thus, there are the wealthy with middle-class values who are not subsidizing their kids’ lifestyles; conversely, there are those who are middle-class financially but with rich (some might derisively say “striver”) values, who are struggling to provide what Stanley called “economic outpatient care.”

    PTM – I like your friends even more. Our friends in that economic category finished the gut renovation of their Parisian townhouse and have shifted their focus to their new-construction build on Nantucket.

  114. Milo, I get your point. I don’t know how I feel about “economic outpatient care”. It’s easy to talk about “Oh, I’d never..” right now, but if I had the means and one of my kids could not afford to move into a good school district for my grandkids, I’d be hard pressed not to help them buy a house. I also hope to pay for a part of my grandchildren’s education. These are normal, predictable circumstances. Through these actions, I am subsidizing my children’s lifestyles when they are adults.

    If I were rich, I would find ways to share with my kids some of my wealth from time to time in meaningful ways (i.e. first apartment, first car, graduate school education, pay for family vacations, a nice wedding) v. giving my wealth to them when they are 65 years old and I am dead.

    I wouldn’t own a Parisian townhome, but just because that’s not my style. No to the boat, but heck yes to the private plane. DH would probably buy a couple of horses and a ranch to live on. He would take extra pride in his beat up pick up truck, which would haul around his very expensive horses and find no irony in that. Me? I’d live in a cozy city apartment with enough room for my kids to visit anytime they wanted.

  115. Our extended families are pretty middle class and I think Milo is undervaluing the knowledge that he won’t have to support his parents/in-laws. Even though his lifestyle is not subsidized now, he can focus on his own financial goals and he can be reasonably sure that he (and/or DW) will inherit someday.

    We’ve experienced a spate of grandparent/parent deaths and recently, no one has died broke. This means Mr WCE’s mom inherited some money from each set of his grandparents, which means (I think) she will never need financial assistance from us. My grandmother (whose sister is still alive at 104) recently died, so she won’t need money from my parents. As far as I can tell, Mr WCE and I can focus on college savings because our parents/grandparents saved for their old age.

    In contrast, lots of my similar-income acquaintances have at least one parent who requires ongoing financial support. With the decline of pensions, I expect this to become more common.

  116. The quizzes HM posted suggest I have more of a generational poverty mindset than a wealthy or old money mindset.

    Of course, I nearly aced the middle class quiz, especially when I begged a couple of questions (assuming the brands we buy for the kids are the best name brands, and the restaurants at which I dine are nice restaurants). I did miss on not having a TV and DVD player in each bedroom.

  117. My funny typing story…I took typing – on a manual typewritter – in middle school. It wasn’t required and was better than a home ec class. My little fingers are unusually short and not very strong, so I couldn’t get any of the letters using those fingers to strike the paper. Plus, they did not cover the keys so we could see them all. The result was an 8-finger, semi hunt and peck method. That got me through high school and most of college.

    In grad school I had a job in the library, which required me to type 30 words per minute to get. I was only able to do that by taking the typing test so many times, I memorized the paragraph! Well, about 6 months later, my boss was going to be gone for six weeks. I was given the most boring project on earth – to take a list of books (it was pages and pages long) he thought we “should” have and look them up in the electronic card catalog and mark which ones we did not own. This and only this for 120 hours, seriously? I decided if this was how I had to spend my time, I would get something out of it and learned how to touch type in the process.

    These days most people seem to compose their own text by typing and not as much copying from printed or handwritten material. At one time I was up to 60 wpm copying from another written/printed document. These days its closer to 35 wpm for that style, but closer to 50 wpm when I am composing.

  118. I am currently reading “The Boys in the Boat.” a story about the 1936 American rowing team. A quote jumped out at me last night. This is from George Pocock who built all the boats. “My ambition has always been to be the greatest shell builder in the world; and without false modesty, I believe I have attained that goal. If I were to sell Boeing stock, I fear I would lose my incentive and become a wealthy man, but a second rate artisan. I prefer to remain a first-class artisan.”
    It is an interesting book and an easy read.

  119. Sheep Farmer – Looking at WCE’s linked map, Danville appears to be relatively affluent, such that a given income puts you at about the same percentile in Danville as it does in Charlottesville. Why?

  120. Based on the quiz, I am utterly MC, to the point I wouldn’t want to be UC if that’s really what it’s all about. The idea of worrying about “key” people, or maintaining connections with people I don’t like, or insisting on perfection in everything — that just sounds exhausting. I want to be wealthy for security and fun, not to spend my days jockeying for power and social status. It’s all way too “Real Housewives.” Ugh.

  121. For the UC old money person who I know, he isn’t doing the things on the list just for social status. He is ambitious. It just looks different when you have billions from birth. There is a well-developed plan for his life that includes public service and political aspirations.

    My Housewives neighbor would check off almost all of the MC boxes.

  122. I love that quiz that HM linked to, but it captures mindset not actual financial status. I still maintain that it’s ludicrous to objectively label the top 5% or even 1% as upper middle class.

    Kinda related to OT, has anyone read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People lately? Does it hold up as offering guiding principles for success? I’m thinking of having everyone in my family read it and discuss as a sort of mini-book club. I’d like to see what my kids think of it.

  123. LfB – Part of me wonders if those descriptors are a bit overplayed, similar to the “All WASPS live in weathered old houses with shabby furniture and wear ratty clothes and drive old cars and send their kids to Choate.”

    On the other hand, maybe we’re just too much of a self-selected group of introverts whose only familiarity with whatever success we have is that which is achieved through working along clearly defined professional paths, where we carved out our positions through degrees and certifications. We don’t have any lobbyists or political consultants or commercial real estate developers. I’ve surpassed my limit for anecdotes about DW’s parents, but their next-door neighbor, whom we surprisingly really like, is one of those successful people who I couldn’t ever tell you WTF she actually does, specifically. She was very senior on a recent Presidential campaign, and then she just kind of jumps around from one interesting thing to the next. As one random example, when a long-serving U.S. senator was nearing death, she’s the one who’s called to orchestrate all the funeral arrangements, like who’s coming who matters, who’s participating, who’s going to sit where, who’s riding in what cars… But how the Hell do you get into that line of work, or better yet, what even is that line of work, other than just “knowing people”?

    If I didn’t know her, and I’d just read this description, I’d presume to hate her. But I don’t–she’s extremely personable and really friendly and comes across as very genuine. And I don’t think it’s an act. She’s nothing like the people DW talks about meeting who are constantly looking over your shoulder when talking to you as they watch for someone more important. So maybe there is a big contingent of people who are like this, and the successful are gifted at blending the personal and professional.

  124. @Milo — Yeah, I had similar thoughts. My first thought was, “wow, stereotype much?” Poor people fight; rich people care about connections and power? But then I read something like Cat’s description, and yours, and I think maybe I’m extrapolating from my own experience, and just because that lifestyle seems like anathema to me doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of perfectly nice, reasonable people to whom it seems natural. But then I can’t tell if it’s a bad questionnaire because it focuses on stereotypes instead of giving an accurate portrayal of “old money,” or if the questionnaire is right on and it’s just my world view that’s too MC/limited to really get the mindset of people who grew up that way.

    But I do think that’s why I keep thinking of myself as MC despite all evidence to the contrary. Because if this questionnaire reflects the mindset of “rich,” then it’s not just that I’m not there — it’s that I don’t *want* to be there, ever. That’s not the stuff I value.

    Well, except the “more cars than drivers” thing. :-)

  125. “Well, except the “more cars than drivers” thing. :-)”

    Yeah, that one was stupid. I have more cars than drivers, and in my observations, that criterion has as much correlation to working-class status as it does to upper class.

    Also, in the childrearing category, what about those who hire a nanny and use [occasional, mild] physical punishment for discipline?

  126. It is really interesting where people draw the line. My kids assumed we were not truly middle class because they got scholarships to school and we were renters. They experienced the insecurity of having to placate the landlord or wondering if they would have to change schools. But we were solidly middle class by income, even when we were underwater by assets, and we had all that social capital reflected in HM’s middle class survey. Even at our worst I only knew how to do less than a quarter of the stuff on the poverty list, and what I did know was entirely economic – the rummage sale/SNAP/free clinic type of stuff. And I can do less than a quarter of the upper class stuff even today.

    But two homes, more cars than drivers – I see that all the time among upper middle class people or even Rhett’s cop and nurse, and sometimes if the secondary real estate is inherited or one vehicle has farming or commercial use, among very modest middle class people.

  127. “Even though his lifestyle is not subsidized now, he can focus on his own financial goals and he can be reasonably sure that he (and/or DW) will inherit someday.”

    This is definitely DW and me. Both our sets of parents have plenty of money (whether liquid or quasi-liquid), so we don’t have to worry about having to use our savings on them.

  128. sorta related:

    in our state, there’s currently a concerted effort by the living wage crowd to have FAST FOOD workers’ pay increased to $15/hr. Now I have no issue with people pressing their case for something important to them, and we’ve discussed the potential impacts of such a move, which is not my issue here.

    My issue is that now the governor has appointed a 3-person panel which has agreed that the FAST FOOD workers’ pay should be increased (not yet saying by actually how much or when).

    Why is this effort limited to FAST FOOD workers? How come all the rest of the people working for pay below the ‘living wage’ threshold are excluded? I get that the FAST FOOD workers may have been the first (only?) to really organize around this, but why not help everyone?

  129. Fred – Because there’s a feeling among certain types of progressives that larger businesses, particularly non-Totebaggy ones, are successful enough (who does that sound like?), so their shareholders should just shut up about unequal treatment and accept a lower return on investment. Small business owners are more noble, so their employees are not deserving of the same “living wage”:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2013/09/12/walmart-wins-again-as-washington-d-c-mayor-vetoes-12-50-minimum-wage/

    In NY’s case, what determines “fast food”? Sure, McDonald’s, but what about Chipotle? Or Dunkin Donuts? Or Starbucks? Tim Horton’s?

  130. Also, don’t gloss over “Only non-union retailers…[would be subject to the minimum wage]”

    In other words, we absolutely need strong unions to protect the rights of American workers, but when it comes to raising the minimum wage, we’re willing to exempt them from actually paying their employees the new minimum wage. What, exactly, is the point of the union in that case?

  131. It sure takes a look less effort for the tall, good looking, smart and amiable vs. those who are short, ugly, stupid and abrasive.

    I’ve been thinking about why my stepson got a job as a physicist right out of grad school rather than needing to postdoc for a couple of years. Of course I think it’s because he’s brilliant, but realistically, these factors probably played a role: 1) He’s tall, blond, fit, and good-looking. 2) He’s well-spoken and makes eye contact. 3) (and this one’s big) He forced himself to go to several conferences, target people working in his area, introduce himself, and chat about their work. That’s what ultimately led to his job offer. One of the guys he targeted at a conference asked him to come out and interview, and the rest is history. A bunch of his fellow grad students seem to just send out their vitae and otherwise hide in their offices.

    So instead of teaching financial management in middle school, I guess they should force the nerds to go introduce themselves to the jocks, and teach the jocks to introduce themselves to the stoners, and so on, and force them to learn to exchange pleasantries.

  132. Small business owners are more noble, so their employees are not deserving of the same “living wage”:

    franchisees, who operate almost 90 percent of the chain’s more than 14,100 U.S. locations (Bloomberg article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-08-06/mcdonald-s-franchisees-go-rogue-with-meetings ). Not sure if other chains are much different.

    So, by extension, 90% of people who work at MCD restaurants are employees of “small business owners.” If these owners are more noble, why are their employees deserving of increased pay?

  133. I’ve been thinking about RMS’s successful physicist son. He is young, a native English speaker, was willing to move and obviously cared enough to attend a conference. If it came out that he was married, that may also convey that he didn’t want to be a perpetual student. I think lots of single guys like the academic life and a postdoc doesn’t sound bad.

    The top student in my key graduate class sequence took her spring final early because her child was graduating from high school and she had relatives coming to town. She was technically excellent but tied down by family responsibilities and, if she had sought work in the field, possibly age discrimination.

  134. “90% of people who work at MCD restaurants are employees of “small business owners.””

    Not necessarily. Some franchisees own multiple franchises, which might push them beyond being “small business owners.”

  135. He forced himself to go to several conferences, target people working in his area, introduce himself, and chat about their work. That’s what ultimately led to his job offer. One of the guys he targeted at a conference asked him to come out and interview, and the rest is history. A bunch of his fellow grad students seem to just send out their vitae and otherwise hide in their offices.

    I’ve said many times on here that networking and general “people skills” need to be taught in college. Those are much more important to career success than GPAs and whatever you learn academically. Obviously there are niche areas where having specific expertise outweighs everything else, but for the other 99% of college grads, schmoozing is the key to success.

  136. Apparently I’ve totally missed part of the “raise the minimum wage” movement. I know that fast food workers have been pushing it, but I haven’t see any city or state propose to raise it only for ff workers. All the proposals I’ve heard about have been to raise it for all workers.

  137. “So instead of teaching financial management in middle school, I guess they should force the nerds to go introduce themselves to the jocks, and teach the jocks to introduce themselves to the stoners, and so on, and force them to learn to exchange pleasantries.”

    sounds like The Breakfast Club :)

  138. “I did miss on not having a TV and DVD player in each bedroom.”

    I missed on this and plans vacation 6 months in advance

  139. Wine, I was the same. And the TV thing isn’t a lack of money, it’s a house rule of no TVs in bedrooms. And our vacations are usually planned 3-4 months out.

  140. “And the TV thing isn’t a lack of money, it’s a house rule of no TVs in bedrooms”
    exactly

  141. at least on the “wealth” list I know how to read and analyze financial statements

  142. ““it’s a house rule of no TVs in bedrooms.”

    My kids don’t care. They love to take my iPad into a bedroom, or even a closet, and watch two hours of Netflix.

  143. Milo, I’m fine with that. Our issue is watching TV when you are supposed to be going to sleep. All the electronics stay downstairs at bedtime.

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