Are you rich-poor? You might be. Did you grow up rich, and now you’re kind of poor? That’s sort of what it means to be rich poor. If you’re rich-poor, it means you grew up in an upper-middle class environment with wealthy parents who still help you out, but now that you’re an adult, you’re having to figure things out on your own, sort of.
If you’re rich-poor, you’ve flown the coop. You have your parents as a back-up, and they still support you and pay your rent, but when it comes to the spending money they give you, you’re squeezing every penny. Being rich-poor means that you know what it’s like to live in luxury, but you also know that the struggle is real.
Being rich-poor is the worst of both rich and poor worlds, because you’re under the intense scrutiny of the privileged yet you’re still slumming it. But at the same time it’s kind of great because you learn how to get good with money without ever really having to fear that the bottom will drop out completely. It’s being perfectly right in the middle, in a Goldilocks sort of way. Here’s some things that only rich-poor people will understand.
1. Your parents help pay your rent… in Bushwick.
Yeah, yeah. My parents help me out with rent, get over it. A LOT of people get help from their parents. But it’s not like they’ve got me set up in Manhattan. Hell, they won’t even swing for Williamsburg. Rich-poor kids have to live way out in Bushwick or Bed-Stuy. If you’re rich-poor, you’ve got your rent covered, but those extra six stops on the L train every night really make you feel like you’ve earned it. On top of that, you get a little bit of street cred, too.
2. Going shopping means actually shopping now.
Ah, remember how easy it was in high school? You had your “own” credit card with your name on it, which of course was attached to your Dad’s account and it had a 100,000 dollar limit. Hah. Now you’ve got your own card for real, and even though you don’t have to pay it off, you learn quickly how easy it is to max out a $3,000 card in a day. You learn how to compare prices on things you want to buy instead of just purchasing everything that catches your eye. You learn how to make that money last.
3. You’re used to the taste of Ramen, because you like it.
If you’re poor, you’re certainly familiar with the taste of ramen. And if you’re rich-poor, it’s no different. Ramen is easy to cook when you’ve been out drinking all night or after a long afternoon of shopping. Just because your dad is an investment banker it doesn’t mean you don’t eat ramen every night by choice. Growing up rich doesn’t mean that you know how to cook for yourself.
4. Realizing that having it all means giving up part of it all temporarily.
Ah, remember how you thought New York would be? Taking taxi cabs everywhere and landing a job at a fashion magazine right away? Maybe dating a famous actor and eating steak dinners every night? Yeah right, maybe if you’re rich-rich. If you’re rich-poor you’re in for a rude awakening. Steak dinners once a week at most. Taxis only when you don’t feel like taking the train. And the rich actor boyfriend? Yeah, maybe one of the 200 guys you’ve fucked since last summer did Community Theater at some point in their teens, but let’s not pretend you’re married to George Clooney. New York for the rich-poor is about making sacrifices and learning how to be smart with your parent’s money until you’re ready to inherit it responsibly. It’s about really trying hard to understand what competition is and why it will matter when you have full access to your trust fund. While you’re rich-poor, you may not land the job of your dreams, hell, you may never work at all, but you’ll at least try, and that’s all anyone can ask of you.
5. Criticism from jealous poor friends.
Sometimes you’ll make friends with people that are actually poor, and once they find out that you’re rich-poor they’ll turn on you. “But my parents are rich, I’m not rich!” you’ll say, and they’ll ignore you. They’ll challenge your authenticity, because frankly, they’re jealous. They can’t help it, it’s in their nature. Naturally successful people like my father are loyal and replete with iron-clad integrity. This is not true for poor-poor people, who resent you for adding value to their neighborhood through increased policing due to your wealthy presence, and who don’t understand the meaning of hard work and sacrifice. When you’re rich-poor though, these people are the authority. They are the arbiters of cool, and for these precious years while you play starving artist with Daddy’s money, they get the final say as to whether or not your self-delusion holds any internal merit. Rich-poor people have to learn how to tolerate actual poor people, at least long enough to figure out how to keep them exactly as they are.