Save. Spend. Splurge.

The Delusion of People who are Well Off and Think They Are Not

I am slightly guilty of this disease, I’ll admit that.

You get used to having money and things done for what you are paying for that you can sometimes delude yourself into thinking: But I am one of them! I am one of the Working Plebs! I am not RICH…. when in fact, I most definitely fit into the top 5% if not top 1% of Canada based on my finances.

But this is not a post about me. It is about the phenomenon of those of us who are well off, getting confused about how well off we are, and thinking we are in the same position of those who are actually struggling.

Case in point – this Toronto Life Article: Rent in the City, Buy in Cottage Country

All you need to know about this article is summed up in its headline:

Tired of the soul-crushing search for an affordable property in the city, these Torontonians gave up on the local market and bought a cottage instead

My friend posted this link with a rant that things were getting SO unaffordable in the city that she did EXACTLY THIS because they couldn’t find anything to buy, and that Toronto is so unaffordable.


I raised a very skeptical, now microbladed to perfection eyebrow, because these are people who about 4 years ago, purchased a home in a very nice part of our town, that cost at least a million dollars.

So I was a bit confused about her rant about high prices and asked her if she sold her place.

Her following response is basically that they had wanted to do a massive tear down & renovate on that million dollar property in Toronto, but couldn’t, because of some structural issues or some City thing.

They then decided they would try to sell the home and buy another one that already had what they wanted, and bla bla bla, they were outbid on the 10 homes they looked at.

So instead, they used that money meant for renovations, and purchased a cottage in the most prestigious part of Ontario.

And the house in Toronto? Still keeping it. Planning on renovating it next year but not doing what she wanted to do, something else.

I am left at the end sort of flummoxed….

Basically, my friends bought a house in Toronto, then an expensive cottage in Cottage Country.. and are complaining because they think that this article TOTALLY REFERS TO THEM – they are TOTALLY these folks who are renters in the City who cannot afford jack, and bought a cottage instead to assuage the frustration and stress.


I think my friend COMPLETELY missed the point of the article because the headline even says:

Tired of the soul-crushing search for an affordable property in the city..



A VERY nice one in a VERY expensive neighbourhood, and yet, she read this article and said to herself:

Wow, I am totally like these folks who can barely afford a home in the City because I can’t even find a second home in the City to move into un-renovated and sell this one I live in.

The delusion that we have sometimes, is we THINK we are like some of these articles and we are nowhere near that at all.

What ended up happening at the end, was she kept her Toronto home, and bought a fancy cottage with the money she was going to use to renovate that home / buy a new one instead of renovating.

I think that speaks to a lot more to ‘delusion privilege’ than it does to finding City prices ‘soul-crushing’.

*face palm*

And for me it was sort of insulting to everyone who would probably die / kill to have her un-renovated home now, as-is, but can’t afford it and are buying a cottage instead.

(Cottages by the way, still don’t make sense to me unless you are retired. A home you have to drive a few hours to, spend time cleaning before you can use it, maintain during the year even when you aren’t using it, and feel guilty for not spending as much of your free time there as possible because you paid all this money for it?….. I call it bananas but then again, I did not grow up in a Cottage Family.)



  • SP

    We grew up going to a “lake cabin”, but it was my uncles so it was a good 4 hour drive for us (30-40 minutes for most others). A huge number of people in the extended family used it (usually all at once with people packed into rooms), as there were 9 kids in my dad’s family and many stuck around. Also, many in the family were in trades and so maintenance and upkeep was largely DIY.

    I have super good memories of spending time there, as there really isn’t a lot to do in the smallish midwest towns we are from. Spending summer days at the lake and on the beach (lakes have beaches too, coastal people never seemed to get that) was pretty great. It helps if at least some people are retired (grandma was) or had flexible jobs. It got a lot of use and it remains one of the best things about my childhood. It is still in the family, but I haven’t personally been in years because i moved away. I want to visit, but it is really hard to get home in the summers.

    So, I sort of get it. But I don’t get it if it is primarily for one family with parents that work full time throughout the summers.

    And, I’m totally with you on the 1%ers thinking they are middle class. We all normalize ourselves to our peers.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I can see everything you are saying — it is memories tied in with family being there, but we ourselves are not Cottage People, so it would just be us … one family, working full-time, that’s it. We don’t have a huge family, even extended.

      (And we are completely delusional at times. I like staying grounded).

  • Jodie

    I’m a cottage owner. But we did it the old fashioned way. Bought the lake property almost 30 years ago when it cost 10% of what it would go for today. Paid it off and saved money and when we had enough to get started my hubby and I started building our cabin. We paid as we went and while it makes sense financially, you have to be prepared to “suffer” and live amidst the sawdust. It’s been completely done for about ten years (we added a four season porch, attached garage with master bed and bath above it) and it is a wonderful haven for our family. We have no debt, built as maintenance free as possible: steel siding, steel roof, composite decking, etc. That being said, a lake home takes work. After my husband passed away I considered selling. I have a couple that continually reach out to me that want to buy it. My children begged me not sell and they are willing to help out with the maintenance and so for now, I’m keeping it.

    As far as the delusion of people thinking they are struggling financially, I work with people who have very different financial situations than I do which is a good reminder that many live paycheck to paycheck.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I would say keep it – if it is your family thing, and you are Cottage People, GO FOR IT. I never grew up with that, and I guess for me, I would rather put it towards a really nice car which others would consider wasteful. To each their own 😉

      I actually work with colleagues who make as much as I do, and live paycheque to paycheque. Income has nothing to do with lack of money knowledge / smarts…. but I really can’t say I am really around people who truly do not have money, which I am not sure how I feel about that quite yet. Need to unpack that.

  • liteadventurer

    People get a lot of money and then start hanging out with other people with a lot of money. Eventually they lose touch with reality and think having a 6 figure income is perfectly average. An easy cure to this is to be friends with people in all income ranges. Some of my best friends are low & median salary individuals, and being around them really puts into perspective how fortunate I am in my own situation. Keeps me grounded.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I wanted to tell her: your life is nothing like theirs. Your life is so completely privileged compared to that, and you are NOT making less than $100K a year trying to live in this city.

      I guess maybe because I am into personal finance, I read posts and stats and know that the average household income is $75K..

      I don’t have super close friends who make less than I do, but then again, I only have 3 friends I consider I am close to, so my pool is quite small.

  • Financial Orchid

    Awwww, the cottage life. I spent the long weekend on a beach front airbnb.

    I fancy having my own little pied-a-terre overlooking the ocean too.

    Of course it’s fantastic to drive down to suburbia on the weekends, enter the premise whenever I please with fancy decor, and my hand picked high end furnishings, inviting friends over for stay overs n summer BBQs…

    Then reality of cost, maintenance, and water damage quickly ends such fantasies.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I just don’t see the point. I mean I do in that it looks nice and so on but the driving, the maintenance… it bewilders me when we say we don’t have time but we do to drive 4 hours to a cottage!?

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *