Save. Spend. Splurge.

What did you think was the epitome of being rich when you were a child?

When I was a child, I had quite a lot.

We had cable TV, I had a secondhand bike, some new and secondhand clothing (mostly new because my parents are superstitious), we had a used luxury car and a ‘normal’ car, food on the table (but we didn’t get to eat whatever we wanted, going out was still a huge treat).

I am sure we still had more than what I am listing, but when I was a kid, this is what I thought rich people had or I would have ‘made it’ if I did too:

  • Central A/C – We didn’t even have a standalone unit, we just had floor fans. To this day, it makes me feel rich
  • Heated seats in a car – To sit in one and not feel like a snowman had been there previously
  • Matching bed linens – you won’t believe the hours I spent dreaming of matching bedroom sets and linens
  • Your own bathroom attached to your bedroom
  • Your own telephone and TV in your bedroom (with a separate phone line because we didn’t have cellphones back then, and I spent a lot of time talking on the phone as a girl)
  • A luxury condo – With a view, obviously nice floors and walls, decorations, furniture that matched
  • Being able to buy whatever food you wanted without checking prices
  • Being able to go on any school trip – I missed a lot because my parents couldn’t / wouldn’t pay it

I asked others on Instagram what they thought was the height of being rich, and here were their answers in order:

Detailed Notes on their Responses

Cars & Car Features

  • Having a car
  • Having a second car as a convertible
  • Having a car (even secondhand) at 16
  • A car paid in cash
  • A luxury car
  • Car with Heated seats
  • Car with automatic car windows
  • Car with an autostarter

Food & Dining Out

  • Individual yoghurt cups not the big yoghurt tubs
  • Out of season fruit
  • Ordering soda in restaurants – this was very popular
  • Snacks at the cinema
  • Not buying anything generic
  • Real milk not powdered milk
  • Being able to fill your cart with whatever you wanted


  • Branded clothing: TNA, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Hollister, Dooney & Burke
  • Brand new clothing
  • Not shopping at discount stores or on sale
  • Not checking the price tags


  • First class flights – I flew one once and I can tell you that’s how I feel too
  • Disneyland trips
  • Any vacation that required a plane or flying
  • Amusement parks
  • Beach
  • Any vacation not requiring to visit families
  • Sleepover camps
  • Summer camps more than a week
  • Ice skating
  • Owning a horse – this rings true even today


  • Central A/C
  • Central heat
  • A fridge with an ice dispenser
  • A fridge with French doors
  • A garage with an automatic garage opener
  • A garage, period
  • A dishwasher
  • Pools – Built-in pools
  • Pools – Waterfall pool
  • Your own master bathroom
  • Your own attached bathroom
  • Your own room and not having to share
  • A second holiday home
  • Investment properties


What really stands out as what people consider ‘rich’:

  1. Individual ownership/items – your own room, your own bathroom, your own books, toys, your own things
  2. Having the choice to be able to buy new – Some people can only afford secondhand, so buying new is <3 (my partner falls into this category)
  3. Vacations – Not family ones in a car, but “real” ones with a plane going abroad
  4. Having more than one item – Two cars, two homes
  5. Not checking prices on anything – Be it food, soda at a restaurant, buying clothes, going on trips
  6. Conveniences – Taxis, a dishwasher, automatic car starter, automatic garage opener, electric car windows, heated car seats
  7. Pools – This one was huge!

And I don’t think this has changed much.

Even as adults, we want our own things. We want nice cars, homes, vacations, great food and clothing. That’s pretty much what we saw as children too.

Honestly, having more money or being ‘rich’ to me, seems like you have the same things… but they’re just NICER.

Instead of a family vacation to visits aunts and uncles in a car, you’re taking a flight (not even first-class) to a resort instead.

Instead of just having a car, you have a luxury one, or a convertible.

Instead of having powdered milk or generic food brands, you buy the ‘fancy’ ketchup, or you buy out of season fruit (or raspberries.. when I buy raspberries and eat them, I feel very very rich).


  • Gail

    When I was a small child, I didn’t realize we lived in a really tiny home and that its location next to a train track on one side and a furniture factory on the other were not desirable. I was happy! When a preteen I did envy people who had neighborhoods with sidewalks and friends coming out of their houses to socialize. I wished we had more than one bathroom. As an adult I would like to return to a smaller space now that my kids are out and I am often too tired to clean our very spacious apt.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      This is a common refrain – my mother’s home is 3000 square feet and it takes forever to clean. We bought her a service with a cleaning lady but then COVID happened. She would be happier in a smaller house but we cannot get her to agree to leave.

      What we saw a kids, is not what we see now. I remember looking at my house thinking it was really big and comfortable (which it was at the time when I was a kid), and only because my friends commented on how large it was and how I had my own room.

      Looking back, I see now as an adult it was bought with money we had, but didn’t really have in terms of not having invested it properly for the future, but spending it on something more than we could afford, given the circumstances, even though we paid in cash. I see all of that now, but when I was a child I thought we were rich, so I feel like I grew up acting like we were even though we weren’t AT ALL.

      • Gail

        The thing is, we moved here after the kids had been long gone, and I still find it wastefully large. It’s a compromise, and anyway, it’s the most hurricane-proof bldg. in town. I just dislike wasted space. The rooms are the right no., but they are too big.

  • steveark

    My earliest memory of thinking about the difference in “rich” kid’s lives and mine was how elaborate their birthday parties were. They would rent the entire roller skating rink or have a decorated giant backyard with cool outdoor play sets. We were not poor but when I went to my third grade girlfriend’s house, a doctor’s daughter, and saw her house and yard and the number of other kids invited to her party I realized she lived a different life than mine. Ironically I ended up as wealthy as her dad but my kids were raised as if we had much less. I did not want them to feel entitled and when they were all grown and we leveled with them about our net worth they were all astonished. But I don’t think any of them felt cheated. They had love and accountability and lots of our time. Now they are all very frugal and good with money.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You raised them well. This is what I want – I want to have the same sort of stealth wealth with my son, and raise him with solid money principles, and then not lie to him either. I think honesty is important in families when it comes to money.

      I most definitely have heard of these crazy parties and will not do the same. He can have a few close friends over for a meal, maybe go out, and then do something nice and low key. I am not going to be renting animals, a circus, or whatever I have heard for his parties, nor giving out huge swag bags at the end, as it has gotten crazy lately.

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