I was on the phone yesterday with a friend who I work with from the west coast who said something about Middle Class Millionaires.
“What the hell is a Middle Class Millionaire?”
“You know what I mean,” he replied. “People who have a few million but don’t fly first class and take the garbage to the curb -Middle Class Millionaires. You know once you start riding business class, you rarely go back to coach. And, once you move to first class, you don’t go back to business. When you start doing private jets, that’s it, you are no longer a Middle Class Millionaire.”
I started to think about it and called my friend whose husband is a very successful lawyer. They have a lot of money now, but she has trouble with it because she grew up ‘southern poor’.
“Do you fly coach?”
“If it’s a short flight I do.”
“Oh, that’s interesting.”
“If the flight is under four hours, I will fly coach.”
Silly me yet again. I’m thinking the short flight from Laguardia to her house in Martha’s Vineyard and she’s talking all the way to Aspen.
I tell her about Middle Class Millionaires, and we start talking about her recent quest to learn sailing. I remark about how amazing it is that at our age that she is out struggling with the boat while I would prefer to sit and watch New York City Housewives. She says it’s because she grew up poor and didn’t do these things, while I did them, and so she is making up for lost time. But, she brings her poorness to her new endeavors for sure.
“Bob (the husband) doesn’t really want to sail with me. I was leaving for sailing Sunday (from their house on the Vineyard, I might add, which is on the water) and he is watching me carry the oars over my shoulder toward the car from the porch, and he says ‘Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?’ I said, ‘No, I’m fine,’ and he says, ‘Debbie you are wheezing.’”
Unfortunately, due to a problem Debbie had putting Vicks Vapo-Rub on her upper lip for years to clear her nasal passages, she now has trouble breathing. I think she should sue Vicks so she could be bigger than a Middle Class Millionaire, but she’s not there yet.
So, I say, “Well, you have your cell if you get in trouble alone out there.”
“No, I would never take my IPhone on a boat. I might lose it overboard.”
“Ok, so you should die rather than lose your IPhone and have to pay $300 to replace it? This gives a whole new meaning to Middle Class Millionaires.”
I have another friend who has made millions herself (I’m so proud; how many women in business do you know who worked for a large company who took home more than a million dollar salary?). She is as cheap as a free hand out by the subway station. She doesn’t have HBO on her cable, but she has five residences (granted they are selling two, and one is in contract, but it’s accurate in this moment in time). She cuts out and carries grocery coupons. She buys candy on sale and holds it up and says, “This whole bag of Tootsie Rolls was only $2.00. Isn’t that great?!” She actually looks like a cat who has dropped off the mouse it took him years to catch. Her husband refuses to go with her to the grocery store because it’s too embarrassing. He and I are in perfect synch. I personally think he should have married me instead of her.
I think I’ve made my point. How we treat our money is not based on how much we have, but rather from whence we come. Not sure what all these assumptions mean exactly, but I think it’s a sociological dissertation for sure. And, I’m going to continue to gather information about it.