27: A Big Family – The new status symbol?

A Big Family – The new status symbol?

Forget the fancy penthouse. For some, having a large family is a new sign of big money.

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Show Notes

When you think about lifestyles that indicate someone’s really got it together, what do you think of?

A fancy house or car? Retiring early?

Or maybe it’s someone who’s a part of the upper crust – a celebrity or a Wall Street tycoon?

One lifestyle that wouldn’t really cross our minds was the big family. For those of us with a bunch of kids, changing diapers for a decade straight, or replacing the sedan with a massive van, or a Costco or Sam’s Club trip being a pretty big adventure… None of this really sounds like we’re telling the world we’re living the high life, financially or otherwise.

“The ultimate status symbol”

We found an article from Business Insider recently that we wanted to share and discuss on the show. It’s called “The ultimate status symbol for millionaire moms on New York’s Upper East Side is not what you’d expect.” And it talks about how well-to-do couples in one of New York City’s nicer parts are having Above Average families. Before we go any further, we should say: we’re not very familiar with the Big Apple and the culture there. I just know I’ve heard about the Upper East side and how seemingly everyone there has a fancy nanny. Cue Fran Drescher.

The piece, by Julie Zeveloff, quotes Wednesday Martin, Ph.D who lives there:

“I quickly became desensitized to massive families — they were everywhere,” writes Martin, who moved from the West Village to the Upper East Side to raise her family.

“Three was the new two, something you just did in this habitat. Four was the new three — previously conversation stopping, but now nothing unusual. Five was no longer crazy or religious — it just meant you were rich. And six was apparently the new town house — or Gulfstream.”

The article also talks about a study that was done that proves big families are actually on the rise – a thing, as they say – for the wealthy.

“According to the Council on Contemporary Families, there’s been a significant increase in three- and four-children families among the “super rich,” or the top-earning 2% of households, which translates to an annual household income of about $400,000 or more.”

Going back to New York City and the financially rich folk, we should note that some preschools in the City cost $40,000 a year.  (You get bonus points if your Above Average family has a household income around that number.) And for the elite, we’d bet this $40k tuition is in addition to whatever that pay their nannies, etc.

Real talk: True wealth

Now, check it: we’re aware that most of our listeners (and most big families) aren’t making a million bucks a year. That’s a stat based fact. So, in case you think Bobby and I are getting on a high horse and proclaiming our wealth with our big families – we’re not.

And we, probably like you, are well aware that you can be wealthy without having a ton of money. There’s a quote that I love that says: “The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.” I like to think Sarah and I are pretty darn wealthy with or without cash and assets.

As a rule, I don’t read comments sections online. Simply put: they’re usually full of rude people. But curiosity got the best of me on the Business Insider “status symbol” article, and – yes, there were awful comments there – but there was also this gem:

“… I wonder if it could be that more family is just a joy to have. My wife and I work hard and we are more than happy to not have other things in order to have a larger family. I get a joy from my children I could never possibly get out of ‘stuff’. If we were more wealthy, we would for sure add another child.”

So, make sure you measure your wealth in different ways than the numbers in your bank account.

If someone wants to infer that your big family makes you wealthy, let them think that. But it may not be the typical kind of wealth – it may be true wealth.

Articles discussed:

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Photo credits: Dakota Building in NYC, from Flickr user Dirk Olbertz, CC 2.0 (cropped, colored)