If you grew up poor, you were certainly aware of the divide between the rich and everyone else. They had pools, SUVs, big-screen TVs and maids. Their families went on annual trips to the far corners of the world. It was clear that they had everything and that you didn't have, well, as much. But did you know that many of them thought their lavish lives were the norm? From private jets and limos to designer clothes, these rich kids share the luxurious things they thought everyone had.
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#1 Eating Out
It was only until later in life that I realized going out to restaurants daily isn't typical. I just figured that is how people normally ate. I thought people who had home-cooked meals were the special ones.
#2 Helping Others
I didn't realize until way later in life that the reason our neighbors' kids had dinner with us every night was because their parents couldn't afford to feed a family of fice and keep the power on. My dad did their taxes and it was his way of helping them without ruining their pride. We also had the parents over for a BBQ almost every weekend and sent them home with all the leftovers. I didn't find out until I took a college class with one of the kids years later.
#3 Boarding School
I was under the assumption that all kids were shipped off to boarding school when mom #5 moved in.
#4 Pool Tables
I'm on the receiving end of this. Some kid once bragged to me about how he had a pool table in his basement and then he asked if I also had a pool table. Thinking he meant something like the table my parents kept near my inflatable pool, I told him, "Of course I have a pool table!"
#5 People Who Clean for You
House servants. Seriously, they do all your chores and EVERYTHING around the house. A friend of mine had a maid who lived with them as a fulltime job and had a room in their pool house.
My family was never overly wealthy, but my parents provided an abundance of toys for my sister and I. I had a huge imagination and I played with every single one of them. But I would be flabbergasted when I went to my friends' houses to see that they didn't have as many toys, or any toys at all. I used to think that some kids just didn't like toys.
#7 A Full Belly
At college, I asked my pre-med roommate if it was safe to go to sleep hungry.
#8 Big Houses
I lived in an expansive suburb with almost zero apartment complexes. I always just assumed everyone had a house and I didn’t really understand the concept of renting a house or an apartment until I was about 14, when I heard them talking about it on Friends or something.
Having not left their state, or even their own neighborhood.
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#10 Disneyland Trips
I am on the opposite end of the spectrum. I grew up poor and my mom cleaned houses for rich people. Most of the time, she would babysit and clean, so she would bring me along as well because most of the kids were my age anyway. They would ask me questions like, “If your mommy cleans our house, then who cleans your house?” And “What do you mean you’ve never been to Disneyland? We go four times a summer." As a kid, I didn’t really think anything of it but looking back I realize what a huge gap there was in our lifestyles.
#11 A Functional Family
Two loving, well-adjusted parents. Apparently this is far rarer than I initially thought.
#12 A Life Like No Other
My husband's family was loaded from the time he was four. His sister had horses. Her cheapest horse cost my in-laws $16,000 to buy. My sister-in-law also competed in hunter jumpers from the age of five until the age of 18. She also competed in ice skating and had a full wardrobe (FYI those ice skating dresses are expensive). My husband's family also went on vacation constantly. They had tons of toys (dirt bikes, jet skies, cars, trucks, an airplane) and they also put a pool inside their 4,000 square foot house. They had a maid and a gardener. They also went to private school with a bunch of other rich kids. My sister-in-law thought that all people lived her life, or at least they did if their parents loved them. My husband thought it was the norm.
#13 Car Loans
When I was in high school, I asked my parents what APR% was in those car commercials. It blew my mind that people couldn't pay for a car in full. Looking back, yeah, I was pretty sheltered.
#14 After-School Activities
Extracurriculars. My parents put me through so many classes, I just thought it was a normal thing that everyone did (although not necessarily as many as I did). When I moved out and discovered that I had to budget to be able to afford to replace my violin strings and bow hairs, it hit me that my parents must have been spending an actual fortune on me.
#15 Yacht Life
The ability to hang out on a yacht out in the middle of the ocean on a beautiful day, playing checkers with your grandpa.
#16 Crime-Free Living
I used to be spoiled as I was from a wealthy family but my dad grew up on a farm and was raised in the same way, so while I was spoiled I also had a pretty good understanding of what wealth is. My cousin, on the other hand, had her mind blown when she went to college and found out that not everyone has a maid. And not everyone grew up in a relatively crime-free environment. And not everyone can go to Disneyland every year.
I thought everyone had a lakehouse right on the shore. At the very least a second house. I guess I was wrong.
#18 Difference in Pay
I grew up upper-middle class. My dad made six figures as an executive and my mom was stay-at-home. She prepared a different full meal every night and we got to eat out once a week. I got a huge reality check when I met my middle school best friend who's dad was a truck driver and his mom did some kind of clerical job.
#19 Personal Security
Growing up, my neighborhood had two dedicated police officers that were full time. It was so nice.
#20 Free Cars
Not the rich one. In fact, I grew up dirt poor. However, two of my best friends grew up pretty affluent; one had thrifty parents who invested and saved, the other is the son of a literal rocket scientist and a Boeing engineer. The latter is actually pretty grounded. He tells stories and kind of laughs about stuff like, "Hey, I had a nanny throughout my childhood and I didn't realize until I grew up that was a rich person thing."
The former just seems dumbfounded that I found the will to live. He's been to almost every continent, he's never had to worry for money, has never had a car payment, and seems bewildered by how much things are capable of costing. The fact that I can't even afford health insurance and my car payment in the same month mystifies him. And why wouldn't it? His mom gave him $2000 for a couch out of the blue, and I don't even have that amount of money to drop on my medical bills.
I thought it was standard to take a limo to the airport or funerals. I actually thought my friend was lying when she told me she had never been in one.
I was hanging out with two of my friends around Christmas time this last year and we decided to go to the mall to shop around. While we were walking around, one friend turns to my other friend and said, "OH MY GOD, I ALMOST FORGOT! I have to get presents for my nannies. What did you guys get your nannies?"
She was dead serious so I tried my hardest not to burst out laughing, but that was probably the funniest moment of our friendship thus far! That day, she learned that we don't all have nannies (she had seven) that do literally everything for us.
Early on in our relationship, my empathetic, socially aware, and compassionate wife said off-hand, "Well, but you must have had SOME silver growing up, right? I mean, everyone has SOME silver."
#24 Learning to Swim
I didn't grow up rich, but simply financially stable. My boyfriend's mom and his twin sisters came over to my house so they could swim in my pool. They were so excited because they got to go swimming. Also, their mom couldn't leave the poolside because they basically didn't know how to swim. I was literally shocked. My mom did swim lessons with me starting at like four, and I did the summer swim team all through elementary school. We swam almost every summer day. It occurred to me that because they have never had access to a pool, they never learned how to swim.
Not wealthy but above the line... Healthcare in the U.S. My folks had great coverage. I thought that was free.
#26 Wealthy Parents
I didn't grow up financially wealthy, but I grew up wealthy in the sense that I had the most loving and selfless supporting cast in my life. My parents offered me everything I could imagine and they set my standard for parenting so high that I was sad to learn that not every person is blessed enough to grow up with such an asset.
I don't consider myself spoiled (and not wealthy anymore) but, when I was about six, I just assumed everyone had a maid.
#28 A Good School System
I grew up in a rich U.S. suburb. What did I not realize "they" didn't have? A school system with highly-qualified teachers, nearly endless community support (tax levies passed to keep things like music rather than cut everything), none of the tattered textbooks or battered laptops we're seeing in the U.S. now.
And this was a public school system. But, the super-rich around it realized its value, were willing to pay for it, and don't bat an eye when the district's financial transparency report shows a bunch of six-figure teachers. Not overpaid gym teachers by virtue of tenure either--at least one high school science teacher had a friggin' PhD but most of us didn't know unless someone told us.
#29 Their Own Room
I thought everyone had their own room.
I currently teach teens whose father makes millions a year. They were very upset that a doctor only makes $200k a year and they weren’t sure that was enough to live comfortably on. We did the math one day and realized he makes more in a day than a minimum wage earner does in a year. To be fair, it’s pretty hard to understand how money works when everything is done for you. Most of the kids I’ve taught have no concept of income and cost of living. Parents! Teach your kids how to pay for things and what life costs!
#31 Extra Cash
This is going to sound silly but, money. Like spare cash. I didn’t realize until I went to college that everyone doesn’t have extra spending money to spend on silly things like movies or a non-cafeteria lunch.
#32 Other Nationalities
That there were (nationality)-Americans. I grew up in a WASP town, went to a WASPy prep school, and never heard anyone ever describe himself as an English-American. It wasn’t until high school when I realized that people not only identify as Italian-, Irish-, Mexican-American, but derive a lot of their identity from it.
This is so depressing. I am struggling to come up with a downpayment for a $60k trailer on less than an acre of property in the middle of nowhere in northern Michigan. One guy here spent $50k on a flight home.
Clean drinking water.
What blew my mind was when I learned about layaway. That was my first real heartbreak. That people literally were working each week to buy their kid the toy they wanted. You want to know about sacrifice, layaway is the ultimate.
My parents called me spoiled and were always chastising me because I didn't have regular chores. Not that I didn't do chores, but that I didn't adhere to a set schedule. Also, I didn't get allowance for this or anything. So I guess I didn't "realize" that other kids had to strictly obey their chores list.
#37 Designer Brands
Turns out that the lame "old people" brands my mom and dad liked were actually brands that people found expensive and high-end.
#38 Summer Camp
Overnight camp and summer programs. Where I grew up, we all went to overnight camp for the summer once we were about 10 years old, and in high school, I did various travel programs (30 days in the western U.S. one summer, 21 days to Australia the next).
#39 Private Jets
A private jet. We would always charter a private jet when flying for vacations or to visit relatives in other states. I would see all of the other jets at the airport, but just assumed that they were just much bigger private jets. I would actually be pretty jealous as I would imagine my family flying in such a large plane and having all that room. Turns out, those were commercial flights with very little room at all. I was 15 when I finally realized this.
#40 The Cost of Owning a Home
When I bought my house at 25 and moved out, I was blown away by the effort required to properly maintain a yard (not to mention the insane upfront cost of getting everything I needed). My shed now has a a lawn mower, two leaf blowers, a snow blower, a weed wacker, a wheelbarrow, gutter cleaning tools, rakes, shovels, and a power washer. I bought more equipment in the first six months of owning my home than my parents did for the entirety of my upbringing.
#41 Three-Car Garages
I thought everyone had a vacation home somewhere and that they had a maid who cleaned the house. I came home from college my first year and looked around my neighborhood and saw it through different eyes. Suddenly, I realized how big the houses were and how most had three-car garages. That just felt normal to me until I went to school with people who didn’t have those things.
#42 Automatic Garage Doors
When I was 13, I brought over a friend who was really, really impressed by my parent's automatic garage door opener. That was a huge shift in perspective for me.
For years and years when I was a kid, I would look down on people who hadn't traveled well, particularly people who did the same Disney cruises every year. In my mind I was thinking, "Expand your horizons! Go to Europe or China or Peru like my family does!" Then I realized what a snobby idiot I was being and now I don't do that anymore.
A passport. I thought everyone had one up until I was in middle school.
#45 Car Insurance
I had a roommate once. His father was a multi-millionaire. Anyway, so I was sitting at the table paying my bills. He asked what I was doing and upon mentioning I was making a car payment, his mind was blown. The idea of financing a car was very foreign to him. He asked so many questions and he could just not understand why anyone would do that. When we got to the topic of car insurance, that was another thing he could not get. He always paid cash for vehicles and he was self-insured. He said everyone in his family and all his friends did this. I felt oh so very small.