Thoughts on ways to become more obnoxious with money

I was reading through the Gourmet magazine cookbook I got for my birthday the other day (used because Gourmet is sadly defunct).  In the entertaining section it has a couple of pages recommending that when you throw a party, you just hire caterers and be sure to rent 3x the wine glasses you think you’ll need.  I guess not unexpected advice from a book that starts with 33 pages of cocktails*, though perhaps a bit unexpected from a cookbook that one has bought, presumably, to cook the recipes therein.  I’ve been to catered parties for work, but I’d never thought of actually throwing one myself.  In fact, other than Thanksgiving and the occasional playdate (either DC1 or DH will have a friend or two over to play boardgames, and/or in DC1’s case, video games), we really don’t throw parties at all.  That year in paradise we would have people over and we’d get take-out (usually dips and salads from the local Israeli place), which is sort of like catering, but much less expensive.  Here, presumably, we’d go into the city the weekend before throwing a party and get lots of frozen canapes from WF and TJ’s to reheat.

The military couple who owned our house before us set up the kitchen for caterers with lots of warming trays and heat lamps and an entire wall of our huge pantry filled with alcohol (the side where we keep tupperware, plastic cutlery, the mini fire extinguisher, extracts, and where the children keep their personal candy stashes).  So maybe catering is something that “normal” upper-middle-class people do, or more likely, they catered a lot of work events so someone else was paying.  The state-side military seems to be into government funded catering.

I wonder at what income/wealth point people hire personal assistants and if we will ever get there.  I’m guessing not.  (What would we use a personal assistant for, you ask?  This weekend we decided that finding a competent handi-person was too difficult so DH is in our back yard pressure-washing the deck himself and after it dries, 3/4 of us will work on staining it.  A good personal assistant would find a handi-person and negotiate a reasonable rate for hir services.  Similarly this PA would find a reasonable yard service that doesn’t have to be told every single week not to cut the grass so short, not to use leaf blowers, etc.  So, I guess a good PA would mainly find ways to spend more of our money.  I’m guessing we will never get to that point.)  I do know economics professors who have personal assistants, but they’re dual-economist couples at top schools who are jointly making somewhere around $500K/year (or more).  So, maybe the answer is $500K/year, adjusted for inflation?  Must be nice.

Is this why obnoxious people say you cannot possibly be rich in the Bay area on a mere 300K/year?  Because they can’t afford to live the life of movie stars from the 1930s?  Is this why the evil rich want more income inequality, so it’s easier to hire competent servants?

How could you become more obnoxious with (lots more) money?  Giving to charity or saving it not allowed for this thought exercise!  Hiring a toothpaste sommelier, on the other hand, is totally allowed.

*Two thumbs up for their Moscow mule.  Also the chocolate egg creme.


67 Responses to “Thoughts on ways to become more obnoxious with money”

  1. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    I’ve been to the occasional house party that was catered. I don’t perceive it as the default option for upper income parties (especially as foodie culture has turned home cooking into more of a luxury good), but it’s probably more common among that crowd than at middle income parties.

    If I had a ton of money to burn, I’d probably go into various kinds of patronage: angel investing, getting into art, etc. Various consumption stuff that may eventually turn a profit. If I was just looking for fancy new doodads, I’d probably browse Wirecutter all day.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Ah yes, Art. My first “eat the Rich” thought was after reading an article on prices for modern art resale. (I’m ok with crazy rich people paying insane prices to the artist– that’s good redistribution, but some of this “art for investment” stuff is just too much. That excess capital should be redistributed. *pitchforks*)

  2. Anu Says:

    We’re approaching the 350K mark this year, albeit in a very high COL area, and I have been thinking things like: yes, let’s just get our son’s first birthday catered. On the other hand, I love to cook, so I’ll probably only do that if we’re really pressed for time. But we are thinking of throwing some money at other problems. We live in a condo (a two bedroom one – see high COL above) and share a small yard and front garden area with one other unit (it’s a two unit condo building). Neither of us into gardening so our garden and yard are in sad shape after we had some patio work done and after the long winter. I just got permission from the other owners to “throw some money at the problem” – just hire some landscapers to get things looking presentable again. However, right now the main way in which we’re being obnoxious about money is hiring a nanny instead of sending the baby to daycare. It feels like a huge luxury, not having to rush in and out of the house each morning.

    Btw, I’ve been thinking lately about what happens to one’s identity when one suddenly starts earning a ton more money. In our case we went from earning a combined 60K a year in grad school to nearly six times that in 5 years. I know this falls under “problems people would love to have” but I’m finding it hard to wrap my head around, because none of my political positions have changed, we give lots to charities etc. but I’m suddenly almost in the 1%? I don’t feel like the popular perception of the 1% at all. And certainly, we have both high outflows and inflows at the moment (post-baby) so while our net worth is growing, it’s not growing at the rate people might expect.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      350K is still a level of income I can’t contemplate ( ), but one of the reasons we’ve been having so many of these “obnoxious” posts is that moving up the income ladder into new brackets does change what’s possible and I’m still trying to figure it out (always with the caveat that DH’s company may go under at any point and we’ll be back to upper-middle-class… at half the income we’re currently making).

      Give yourself a few years of wealth accumulation– it may start to be noticeable even with baby expenses, unless, of course, you buy a (bigger) house and start pre-paying (or go on expensive vacations or get a Tesla, or all the other ways one can spend really large sums of money).

      • Anu Says:

        Yeah you’re probably right. At this level of income, unexpected positive income flows can often end up resulting in wealth accumulation without our entirely realizing it. And of course we have plenty of automated savings like 401Ks, 529 etc.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It really starts to get obvious once there’s no obvious place to put the excess money, like when the mortgage is gone and the 529s are already phat, and the 401(k)s are maxed out. (We’re still rebuilding our emergency fund from DH’s car, but in a month or two we’ll need to decide whether to renovate the kitchen or start putting more money into taxable stocks.) Most of my colleagues buy a huge plot of land and build a 4000 sq ft mcmansion at that point. I’m mentally saving for if we need to move to Paradise (or, you know, flee the country).

      • Leah Says:

        Renovate your kitchen.

        two reasons:
        1. Life is short. Who knows if you’ll get to enjoy all this money you’ve socked away, especially because you don’t want to retire early.
        2. Having a really nice kitchen is awesome. And if you truly have excess money, you can actually put money into getting a good designer in to really think through details, do neat extra touches, etc that will make your kitchen extra functional.

        Things that make your space excellent on a day to day basis are so nice. That’s why I’m spending money on a personal organizer even though it’s pricey; it is so worth it to have places to put my things. It will be even more excellent to have a purpose-built space for the way you use your house.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        But: actually doing the renovations without the help of a personal assistant to find everything and my own personal restaurants to cater me food is a bit of a hassle!

  3. monsterzero Says:

    Buy an FM frequency band and broadcast only music that I like.

    We recently moved to a very small town (roughly 1000 people) with no restaurants, so maybe open a taqueria and an Indian restaurant (both of which would definitely lose money) that I could walk to from our house.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Any reason why to have restaurants rather than to just hire a personal chef that you keep on call (in the servants’ quarters)?

      • monsterzero Says:

        Dunno, we like the relative solitude here, and the property’s not big enough to have someone else onsite without it bothering me. So unless I went full Zuckerberg and bought all the neighboring property…but some of our neighbors rent so that goes beyond obnoxious into Evil territory. Also, if someone’s going to be cooking in-town they might as well be cooking for others as well since I can’t very well eat full-time, as much as I wish I could.
        Oh, and I would definitely get a hot tub.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        *and* when you go into the restaurant, all the other patrons could see you being treated like VIP– that seems like something obnoxiously rich people like

  4. delagar Says:

    I’d do two things if we magically had enough money: hire a lawn service, and hire a maid to come deep clean the house twice a week.

    Wait, no! Three things: send out the laundry.

    Wait, four: Take hella vacations a couple times a year, to like New York or Paris. Camping in Montana.

    Wait, five: Not work summers.

    Man, this list keeps growing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Might we suggest starting with five? Though that’s really not obnoxious at all. :/

      We have (male) friends who sent out the laundry in graduate school because it wasn’t that much more expensive than going to the laundromat and waiting themselves, but I think that’s really a city thing (laundromats are not cheap!).

      • delagar Says:

        Our dryer just broke (again), but luckily I kind of like spending time in laundromats. Luckily, because there’s no way we can afford either to buy a new one right now or to get it fixed. :(

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Ugh! Do you know what’s wrong with it? We’ve had a lot of luck with self-repair using youtube videos, though it helps that DH has an engineering degree and tools. (The Frugal Girl does all her home appliance repairs without an engineering degree. From what I can tell the important thing is to take lots of pictures while you are disassembling so that you can put it back together even if you don’t fix it.)

        My parents still don’t have a dryer (my father who does not do laundry because it is women’s work will not allow my mother who does all the clothes hanging to purchase one, even though they can now afford one).

      • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

        I have repaired SO MANY appliances off youtube videos. Truly, the information age is a wondrous thing. (I have also paid to have them repaired when we were not poor, because ugh, taking apart the entire washer sucks.)

  5. rose Says:

    Laughing for problems I do not have! And, I am also grateful for the results I live on from decades of careful money management.

  6. slnoonanj Says:

    My brother and sister in law are in the rich enough to have a personal assistant (this is in addition to his secretary at work and her office manager for a small business she owns). As a result, we get lots of stuff in the mail from them – most food for random holidays that no one sends gifts for. I suspect she’s given the assistant a list of people and then tells her things like – go buy them something for the 4th of July. In other words, yes – it seems personal assistants just lead to spending more of your money, frequently in not entirely rational ways.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      … I am not sure how I would feel about that… maybe depends on whether or not the random food stuff was good?

      I’d kind of like some rich relatives to try this out! Or maybe I wouldn’t because it would be weird?

  7. CG Says:

    We have a nanny who has gradually taken on more personal assistant-type stuff for us as the kids have gotten older (mid-week grocery shopping, kids’ laundry, running errands, even scheduling and carrying out some kid activities that occur during her work hours). It is really nice. These are all tasks that would fall to me during my workweek, so I’m grateful to not have to do them. But I am still the one who needs to make the grocery list and know which errands need to get done, so the mental load is not reduced very much. I imagine a true personal assistant would get to the point where s/he would take on part of the mental load as well, but then I might feel like less of a normal person and less of a real grownup.

    Also, we have had a few catered parties at our house. Some hosted for my husband’s company where they were paying (including one with a waiter–that made us feel very la-di-da until he spilled boiling coffee down my back–true story). One for when I got tenure and I just got a bunch of Middle Eastern food delivered, and one recently for my very ill dad’s birthday where we had a lot of people coming in and I just couldn’t face doing the cooking myself. So my rule seems to be if it’s over about 20 people I will bring in reinforcements in one way or another. I do like to cook and happily do so when having another family or two over.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Economist Betsey Stevenson recommends hiring former nannies for the Personal Assistant position. (From when she talks about it, it sounds like economist Justin Wolfers takes on none of the managing of the household employees. In that situation I would need the PA to also deal with the taxes and employee management, or to find someone to deal with the taxes and management.)

      Is your back ok?! That sounds terrifying!

      I guess if ordering take-out counts… I mean, we sometimes order pizza or sandwiches when DC1 has a friend over… (the only places that deliver to our house without an additional $15 fee and hour wait are pizza places and one sandwich place that also does pizza).

      • CG Says:

        I find Stevenson’s and Wolfers’ partnership fascinating. Perhaps you could write about them someday. My back was burned but recovered pretty quickly, thanks. I guess I make a distinction between food ordered in advance for a relatively large number of people and regular takeout decided upon with short notice when I think about whether or not something counts as catering. I confess to curiosity about where you live with such limited takeout options…I hope you like pizza!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I live in a HOA in a college town away from where students live– so not many places deliver this far out. More places deliver closer to students (though most of them are also pizza). Not that different from where I grew up, actually, only occasionally we’d be able to get Americanized Chinese food (my hometown also cycled through restaurants) and there weren’t any sandwich places that delivered. So maybe it’s a college town thing.

  8. Cloud Says:

    I pretty aggressively try to exchange money for time, and so I think what’s limiting me in that regard is not more money (although maybe a huge jump would open up new ideas?) but spousal buy in. My husband just finds it weird to pay someone to do something he can do himself. We have a cleaner, and we’ll hire people to do specific yard tasks or repairs around the house that are beyond our skills, but he is not willing to hire a regular gardening service or anything like that.

    So the most likely thing I’d do if my income doubled and I went from comfortably well off to downright wealthy is hire a personal stylist. He or she could tell me what to do with my hair and handle my clothes shopping. That would be awesome. I’ve used the Nordstroms personal shopper and tried out Stitch Fix and neither is quite what I want. I want someone to come to my house and just fix my look! And find me shirts that fit and bring them to me.

    • Cloud Says:

      Oh! I forgot I was supposed to come up with an obnoxious use of money. So I guess I’d hire the personal stylist and then snootily drop mentions about “my stylist says…” and “my stylist found this darling little boutique…” into my conversation. That would be obnoxious.

      As for catering: I’ve only ever hired caterers once, for our post-wedding picnic. We hired a company that specialized in outdoor parties. It was a good use of money. We don’t throw big parties other than for kids’ birthday parties. Those we sometimes have at a place that provides pizza, but that’s not the same!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We had catering at our post wedding picnic too. :) (#2 also had caterers at her big fancy event wedding.)

        Since my kids are out of daycare now, we don’t have parties for them because they both have birthdays when school is not in session. Poor deprived kids.

  9. chacha1 Says:

    See, I can think of all kinds of ways to spend excessive amounts of money that I would consider obnoxious, but I would never choose to do those things if I had excessive amounts of money. :-) It’s a conundrum. “Obnoxious” here I would apply to activities that are conspicuously consumptive and performed solely for the purpose of showing off how conspicuously I am consuming. Like buying a $300K sports car and driving it around town revving the engine at stop lights. That’s obnoxious. I would only do that if someone said “you must spend $300K today on something stupid or this kitten dies.”

    I don’t know that I would put hiring caterers in the same category. A lot of rich people stay rich by cultivating other rich people. That often means putting on high-toned entertainments at their homes. Living in Beverly Hills all those years, I saw plenty of this. The staging company, the decorators, the caterers, the musicians, the bar & wait staff, the gardeners, the valet parking. Such entertainments may nominally be for charities – a lot of fundraisers are done this way – but everyone knows it’s about networking. It’s obnoxious only when the valet company clogs up the street and/or when the music is too loud for the neighbors (and this rarely happens because people have to get permits for this kind of thing, and if the cops get called on a noise complaint, the people will have trouble getting permits again). So in that kind of life, a personal assistant would be handy.

    For anybody who works full time, I think hiring a caterer could be a legitimate use of funds. Time is money, and sometimes we have more money than time. Putting on a big party is a lot of work and takes a lot of time.

    If I *had* the kind of stupid money that put me over into what I consider “rich,” and all my obligations were met and I still had stupid money left over, and I were not allowed to buy up degraded properties and fix them (per previous discussion!) so that I HAD to spend the money in non-socially-useful ways … well, the thing is it would all come down to hiring people to do things for me. And that would be creating jobs. Is it obnoxious to hire a driver and a personal chef if I am paying competitive wages and benefits? Because those are things I would do.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think I don’t have enough imagination to go anything other than the Warren Buffett route either. I also suspect I’d be terrible at hobnobbing.

      We solve the “parties are a lot of work” problem by not having parties! We got married once, and we’re done(!)

      It both is and is not obnoxious to hire a chauffer and personal chef. That counts!

  10. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    The former upper class people I know used to entertain in that extra fancy catered way (or cooked it all themselves) but that’s not how we do it.

    My versions:
    Super casual: Throw together and heat up leftovers, eat.
    Medium casual: Take out – unpack and eat on plates.
    Fancy: I cook a sit down dinner but we have no chafing dishes and at best one and a half wine glasses per person. (The mini fire extinguisher would be handy considering I nearly set myself on fire the last time we did a fancy dinner.)

    It just dawned on me the other day that the take out option was a good middle of the road way to do it rather than killing myself cooking the fancy dinner.

    I could ABSOLUTELY spend real oodles of money selfishly: get a daily massage, a personal chef 4 days a week, a gardener 2 days a week. Only work 3 days a week – wait, is that an option in this scenario, or do I have to work to be obnoxiously rich? Get a personal dog trainer in here for NewPup, a dogwalker for my bad days. Hire a nanny. Hire a driver! JB would love this because ze wants me to read to zir while we’re driving and I can’t, duh. Hire someone to replace my wardrobe with an ethically created and style suitable wardrobe.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The caterers bring the chafing dishes, right? (I have an electric fondue pot– does that count?)

      Be careful with fire! Too many burns already on this thread (of the literal kind)!

      Those all sound like excellent selfish uses of money. :)

  11. becca Says:

    If I had obnoxious rich person money, I’d get an obnoxious rich person boat and join an obnoxious rich person boat club.

    If I had only almost-ridiculous money, I would hire a local college student (or two!) to tutor my son in Spanish and ferry him to some of the soccer games, and a Nanny to cook/tidy, give us breaks from looking after the toddler, and allow us to actually go on date nights.

    Also, for just a bit more (but theoretically feasible) amount of money, I would hire a travel agent who I liked to chat with who I could go out to coffee with once, blather on about what everyone in my family liked, and who would create a custom itinerary for all of us, and set up appointments for passports ect., and coordinate all of the nitty gritty stuff.

    Now, if I had *truly* ridiculous money, I’d hire Carebear a construction crew to let him always have his renovation projects, and hire me a lab full of people to do the research I want.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      If you join an obnoxious rich person boat club, do you have to hang out with other obnoxious rich people?

      I’m not sure if having people do the research you want counts as obnoxious unless you’re doing things that aren’t helpful to humanity… are you an evil mad scientist or a good one? (Or are you… Ironman?)

      I’m with you on not having to plan vacations! I might take vacations and enjoy them if I didn’t have to make decisions.

      • becca Says:

        Pretty sure obnoxious rich people are at their least obnoxious on boats, but I’ll check on that before joining the boat club.

        “are you an evil mad scientist or a good one? (Or are you… Ironman?)”

        I think I’m definitely on the Ironman spectrum. Perfectly willing to be heroic, as long as lots of people are watching.
        I mean, I’d *rather* cure diseases, but instantaneous teleportation kept all to myself *would* solve my stress about being late. And then there’s the whole engineering a lethal virus that can only infect a certain circus peanutoid. Jury is still out on the “good” vs “evil” call there…

  12. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    Well, if my only goal was to be obnoxious, I could copy our local dentist: tear out my backyard and replace it with an in-ground pool; buy the most obnoxious possible vehicles; hire minions for everything including to mow, I am not kidding, about 200 square feet of lawn; buy plastic surgery for an ornamental spouse; buy designer children’s clothes – actually, that could all be replaced with ‘maximally conspicuous consumption.’

    Some house cleaners and a nanny and a bathroom renovation, though? I’d do that first. Not really obnoxious though!

    I like the personal stylist idea. Definitely obnoxious.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I love the, “my stylist found the most darling little boutique”

      You’d think he could find something to replace that last 200 sq feet of grass…

      • Leah Says:

        One of my friends just posted a picture of their neighbor replacing grass with plastic turf. No joke. Made me want to vomit.

      • chacha1 Says:

        Artificial turf is really catching on here in drought country. :-) For those folks who want a patch of green for their kids to play catch on (those whose kids actually go outside) or to fill in the space between front door and sidewalk without sucking up gross amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Oh, but you’re not supposed to actually step on it– 1st because “chemicals” but 2nd and more important in SoCal– it will BURN you. (Comment #3 about burning…)

        (Yes, we have looked into this.)

    • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

      Ooh, I would also buy open-burn permits which are like $500 EACH TIME in the city here. And a vacation home which I could natter on about, obnoxiously, at every possible occasion.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Truly obnoxious! Oh man I hate the open burning– I get such horrible headaches and have to sit in the bedroom with the air filter going full blast.

  13. Leah Says:

    I clearly am not meant to be rich, because pretty much everything I want to do is helping others. I suppose the obnoxious in what I’d do is to do things for people based on my standards. For example, I dream about how exciting it would be to hire landscapers/house painters/ etc to go into a neighborhood in my town and do the “curb appeal” thing for all the houses to spiff them up at my cost. But maybe some people wouldn’t want that? Or I’d hire some music teachers and then provide free group music lessons so my kids could have music lessons with their friends.

    I wish we had a smidge more money so I could do stuff like give $1k to my kid’s daycare for programming extras and things. Or a big chunk to gymnastics so they can stop doing fundraisers (or to the local elementary school). I freakin’ hate fundraisers and find it ridiculous that schools have to push for more money all the time to do things like update their playground equipment.

    But I am not rich and not going to get there unless I switch jobs. Honestly, I wonder sometimes if I should switch jobs. What would I have to be doing to get into this $250k+ salary range? Is that even doable, or do I need extra training and such? This is all a foreign world to me.

  14. First Gen American Says:

    I could really use a personal shopper. The kind that brings clothes to your house that fit your body type and returns everything you hate. I really hate shopping. That would be my first add. Second would be a nanny with a car.

    I went from a neighborhood where we made the most on our street to one where we make the least by far. Both neighborhoods had landscapers mow. We are now the absolutely only ones that mow our own lawn on our street. We are the only ones that lift a finger on home repair and maintance. Only one person has obnoxious cars but it is a passion of his. The neighbor that throws catered parties also does things like tell contractors he will pay them extra if they get a job done right away. They have gardeners and weekly house cleaners and lots and lots of books…no kids. However, they have a normal car and their house is a ranch that’s pretty down to earth looking. Most have expensive art on the walls. Real art, not prints. Everyone has their pet charity and/or artist they support. It seems like everyone gets a decorator and landscape architect when they move to a new house to put their stamp on a place. The inside looks like it should be in a magazine and often are. Many winter in warmer places at least part of the time.

    Another neighbor brings her dog to doggy daycare during the day.

    The biggest difference I see is that rich people have more time so I see them more often and they are way more relaxed and friendly (most of my neighbors are at least semi retired and older than I am). The parents in the schools are generally older too. We were the oldest parents in our last town. Now we are middle of the pack. There are many parents in their 50s and 60s here. They did what we did. Work their butts off til they could afford a better school system, then had kids and moved. In The old neighborhood, everyone was just trying to keep their head above water so a lot less time in general for leisure and chit chat.

    I actually have been pleasantly surprised by this community. I expected a lot more obnoxious people than there are. I really like all of my neighbors. Honestly the really obnoxious snobby people I don’t care for are mostly the townies who only can afford to live in town because they inherited property but otherwise are middle class. They are the ones more likely to show outward consumerism with fancy clothes and cars that they can’t really afford. In fact it was the same in my last neighborhood. The ones with the most toys were the most in debt. It’s just that the toys were snowmobiles instead of sports cars.

    The really rich don’t care about flash. They just buy what they want/like/value and skip the rest. One of the neighbors has a little home that hasn’t been renovated since the 70s. It’s on a gorgeous piece of land though. He could care less about his house, but is super social so he is member of every country club, goes to plays and concerts several days a week all summer long. Others love plants so they have the garden staff. Others just want to spend all day at the nice spa so they join it. It makes me want to be retired is what it does. Time is what I covet the most. I’d be the one at the spa with the gardener.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think you might have a different view of the really rich if you lived in Beverly Hills! There are cultural differences. #notallreallyrich

      • chacha1 Says:

        Beverly Hills is ridiculous. One of the reasons we finally left that big apartment is that the building was filling up with college kids, provided with these $3000+/mo apartments (and with their top of the line cars) by their parents. … BH is not the neighborhood of “the millionaire next door” who maybe inherited some money but mostly worked his/her ass off, bought a decent place, kept it decent, and otherwise doesn’t spend much. BH is the neighborhood of the successful parasite … lawyers, agents, managers, medical and personal service specialists (you would not believe the money to be made in private fitness coaching, cosmetic dentistry, hairdressing, etc) whose business depends on looking so rich that he/she doesn’t need your business. Meanwhile there is ONE general practitioner, in the city of BH, on the Blue Cross network. Not even kidding. Guess who goes to see him? The housekeepers.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        And the rich have enough money to sort themselves into their various enclaves, whether it be old money and shabby but terribly expensive carpets handed down for generations in New England or Marin or the latest flash in various parts of California or NYC.

      • First Gen American Says:

        Yeah, I guess my definition of really rich are multi-millionaires but single digit ones. Not Beverly Hills or Hamptons Rich. That’s hard for me to even conceive of those. We do get them at the canyon ranch every once in a while and they all have their VIP “to do list” for the staff to prepare for when they arrive. I would hate the lack of privacy of being a celebrity rich person though.

  15. Lisa Says:

    I’m loving the ideas here… I especially like the idea of retaining my nanny once my little one is in school as a personal assistant, but my dream would be for her to take classes to boost her into a better job of her choice if she wants to. Not exactly evil. We do make a ridiculous amount of money, but one of my goals for the year is to get a better handle on where it goes because I feel like we “should” have more in savings than we do. Though we do maximize retirement accounts, are adding to 529s, etc. and those things add up over time. We do buy time (biweekly housekeeper, lawn guys, nanny, dry cleaning) but not for everything (we do our own gardening – poorly, only dress shirts/dry cleaning are taken out – I wash the rest). We also buy experiences – I love to take the family on vacations regularly. Some are local and cheap, some are not. My husband is into cars and so we have too many and I’m afraid they are a bit obnoxious. Apparently we are already obnoxious!

    To become more obnoxious we might buy a vacation home. Or fly first class. Or rent a jet to fly us places (owning a jet is just way too obnoxious!). That all seems pretty obnoxious. But I might consider the first class thing next time we fly to Europe. Comfort plus made a huge difference on our last long flight. I guess my general philosophy these days is to spend money on things that will make my life better/easier. Time to order flowers to be delivered to our moms on Mother’s Day!

    On a less obnoxious note, I’ve been trying to think of ways to use our money to make other people’s lives better and I’d be interested in your ideas. For example, I’ve been trying to leave cash tips for housekeepers at hotels, our house cleaners, etc. We donate to the local food bank and other charities. Other ideas for spreading it around a little?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’ve definitely been tipping a lot and every month and a bit more often I’ve just been giving random money to charities (though I am irritated with the SPLC for spending money to send me a book that I didn’t want or ask for). I think taxes should be paying for schools, but I give to donorschoose anyway, mostly for things that some school districts don’t want to pay money for because they’re controversial, like The Hate U Give.

      I care a lot about education, but I don’t want my education dollars to crowd out government or university dollars– so I’d say scholarships to local kids, but it’s hard to do that for low income kids in such a way that school aid isn’t cut 1-1. I think I will throw this up as an ask the grumpies in the future. Food for thought.

      • Lisa Says:

        Thanks for the reminder about donorschoose – just found a great project nearby and funded it! Warm fuzzies for the day! :)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Swing Left is also a great way to help make change.

      • becca Says:

        Financial aid offices at schools have a large amount of latitude in how they apply scholarship dollars- so you’d have to endow one specially (or contribute to an existing one set up right) at a specific school that was designed right. I actually suspect if all donors ask about this, it will be the most powerful thing to drive them to avoid loan dollars for those coming from middle/lower economic brackets.

        For many reasons, I want to pick the brain of the Harvard financial aid people. One of my questions is what drove the “no loans” policy. It’s a real change since I went to university and an excellent one. They’ve got all the money in the world, so the *how* isn’t scalable, but they are the one’s everyone is trying to emulate so the *why* matters.

  16. Middle class Says:

    Would creating a scholarship in your family name count as obnoxious? If that’s not obnoxious I would hire a.driver and rub it in people’s faces.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I like the family name aspect! Bonus points for adding a descriptive after (ex. The Middle Class Scholarship for promotion of world domination). You can have that and your driver!

  17. eemusings Says:

    I’m not very imaginative! All I can think about is just outsourcing all house/vehicle maintenance/cleaning/repairs etc – cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping etc.

  18. Debbie M Says:

    One strategy I’ve heard of for hiring help is to hire whoever is easiest to find a good and affordable person for to free up your time to do whatever is hard to find good help for. For example, if you want to hire a maid, it could be cheaper to hire a babysitter to watch the kids while you clean house yourself.

    My self-centered fantasies for piles of money are:
    1) Giant gothic-style mansion where I can easily invite people to stay over.
    2) Build a centrally-located ballroom dance hall and give first dibs to the local nonprofit ballroom dance club and my favorite instructor. Charge everyone else market rates and make them schedule around the former.

    • becca Says:

      We just paid my 8 year old $20 to assemble the (human powered) lawn mower and mow the lawns. I pointed out to Carebear we would have had to pay at least $40 to get someone(s) to task rabbit the mower, mow the lawns and babysit the kid for 2 hours + that we otherwise kept him engaged. #lifehack

  19. MaggieO Says:

    I don’t know if this is obnoxious, but…I would have a surrogate and have at least one more child– when I had my daughter, there was a birth complication related to my body that wouldn’t happen if someone else carried my child. (Which is a heartbreaker for me, because I really want at least two children and had a trouble-free pregnancy up until the very end of the birth. It’s been more than two years since I’ve had her, and I’m still having a hard time letting go of wanting and wishing for another child.)

    And I think we’d do a major house renovation and live in a nice rental house while the work was being done. The people who built our house made some weird decisions and the previous owners made a few more. The land is beautiful, but the house itself has issues. In the renovated house, I would have a library, with copies of lots of out-of-print books by authors that I love. And in-print ones, too.

    I wouldn’t bother with catered parties, personally, but that’s mainly because I don’t know anyone I’d invite to a catered party who’d be comfortable attending. But I might be on board with having parties and having people come in to clean up both the day before and the day after.

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