Good point HP! Poor little dears... may even have a chance at growing up to be normal!
Good point HP! Poor little dears... may even have a chance at growing up to be normal!
The 1% argument made in the article was silly, but the author does make one fair point. It is so expensive to live in certain Canadian cities that household income doesn't tell the whole story. $1,500 for child care and a $2,500 mortgage eats up 48K per year in after tax dollars. Add in food, clothing, maintenance, utilities, automobiles, child rearing and a vacation and you can easily hit 70K to 100K without getting ludicrous.
Unfortunately, the author profiled BMW driving, expensive-wine drinking, Armani wearing yuppies. Not exactly a group that deserves public sympathy.
late let us not be sarcastic ... i know so many ordinary middle-class parents who sacrifice a lot to procure a few of those benefits for their kids.
i know working-class parents - she's a hairdresser, he's a gardener/snow removal contractor - who bust their ass to send their 2 daughters to private school. The girls are thriving. The mother began her search for the right school when the oldest was only 8 or 9.
what i saw in those profiles is that kids appeared in the budgets like household pets. Or worse. Inanimate objects like furniture. Tables, chairs. Little things to be acquired & dusted off now & then.
Somewhat off-topic, but are most people here in favor of private schools? Do you think your kids are getting the benefit from it? I've alway felt that if you have good public schools in your area that it is not really worth it. For the record I was in public school until 1 year of prep school in NH after high school and then university.
edit: fixed stupid spelling mistake, thanks brad....;)
Don't you know the private schools are an early start on networking :)
I was public school all the way: elementary, high school, and university (State University of New York); my father paid less than $1,000 total for my four years of university because I had a state scholarship. I feel like I got a good education, but I happened to live in an area that had good public schools. I worked at Harvard University for three years, and employees get big discounts on courses so I took courses every semester; I didn't feel like the instruction I got there was any better than what I got at my state university; instead the differences boiled down to the quality of students. They were there to learn, most were overachievers, and they worked very hard and were engaged in the topics we were studying. That kept everything at a very high level, and as a student I worked harder to keep up with them. That gave me a sense of the value that could be offered by private schools.
The only profile that struck me as remotely reasonable was that of the retired couple in their 80's. So I added up all of their expenses, and lo and behold, they're only spending $59,000 a year. Now, I don't know how much their 160K income is taxed, but it's clear they're living well below their means. So then, what is point in profiling them as if they're barely scraping by? Hilarious.
The other profiles are hilarious as well, but in the sort of the way they're so bad at money management, that all you can do is laugh.
The other thing I noticed is that only one family mentioned giving anything to charity, and that was a paltry amount (about $1,500) compared with what someone at that income level could afford to give if they stopped for a minute to consider the impact their money could have if they put it to use to improve something other than their own little worlds.
yup i noticed that too ... no donations.
Private schools are very expensive all right. We sent our daughter to them for her entire schooling. We were happy with the results but I'm sure she would have done well in the public system too. Was it worth it: don't know. they do provide smaller classes and more individual attention. Outings are better, skiing, camps, travel,etc. Would I do it again( grand kids) probably.
When I was 10 this family down the street won a few hundred thousand in a group lottery, as a result the kids got moved to private school. They were some of the most trouble making and trouble getting-in kids at the school.
I didn't keep in touch after the lottery win, but looking now, according to facebook, they are enjoying the finer things in life such as: tank tops, fatness, canned macklay's beer, recycling bin end-tables, and seemingly a girlfriend of 6 months who is pregnant...
Myself, just now finishing university, and trying to remember back at all my schoolmates over the many years, I would probably attribute success in school (as The Man defines success of course) as 30% smartness, 30% curiosity, 30% hard work, and 10% teacher inspiration.
When trying to remember times of inspiration in the past, I can't remember specific events, but I sure as hell am sure that it had everything to do with the teacher's desire to teach and inspire, and nothing to do with what resources they did or didn't have access to.
So my thoughts of private schools would be that if they somehow manage to get inspirational teachers to work for them, it could be helpful. But just because they have more resources? Not a chance.
The one advantage of private schools is that it is generally easier to expell problem kids as they can revert to the public system. Trying to expell a problem kid from the public system is much more difficult I think.
I don't buy the argument that it's so expensive to live in Toronto. It's only expensive if you choose to live a certain lifestyle. There are many families that do just fine on very modest incomes.
I think living in Toronto is expensive.
Living in the GTA not necessarily.
The difference between Toronto and most other cities is that in most cities a 5 minute drive out of the downtown core will get you into areas where housing is much more affordable.
In Toronto, you'd have to drive 45+ minutes to get to affordable housing.
Granted most of the stuff these people are spending money on would cost the same anywhere. Wine, food, sports, daycare etc.
I could spend $12,000 a year on my children's education or I could spend it on a new Fendi purse every month. Tough choicez. I really think they interviewed the wrong people.
I went to Lawrence Park. In those days, it was competitive. My kids went to Richmond Hill High and Unionville High. They both found the experience appropriate. Then Queens and Western respectively. I was a UofT grad.
My friends that went to UCC mainly benefitted from the networking opportunities when they got out to work. But I just worked harder at developing my network.
I agree that lack of charitable contributions is an obvious omission. Must be part of the Me Generation?
Why do people challenge the amount of charitable contributions that other people make? How do you know those people aren't donating hours of time every week at a local foodbank or soup kitchen? I don't give a ton of money away either. I did though, spend a lot of time to raise over $3,000 for the Becel Ride for Heart and Stroke last year, gave a ton of stuff to the local animal shelter recently including food, dog beds, etc. (without asking for a tax receipt) but people would still call me selfish if I was profiled since I don't put aside a certain percentage of my income for charity.
But I think the rich bear a greater financial responsibility because they have the resources to make a significant impact. The $80,000 that the one couple spends every three years on a new Mercedes could save thousands of lives in a developing country, or build hundreds of schools in the poorest parts of the world.
Peter Singer's book "The Life You Can Save" is an eye-opener in this regard. He makes a very compelling and ironclad case that, given the fact that more than 20,000 children die every day around the world for easily preventable causes, spending money on things we don't really need instead of giving that money to charity is the moral equivalent of walking past a drowning child in a shallow pond because you don't want to ruin your expensive new shoes. And he discusses every one of the common arguments against giving to organizations that work in developing countries: he dismantles each argument against giving and provides hard data and irrefutable logic to show why that argument is wrong. Reading Singer's book has made me considerably less wealthy (in dollars) than I was before I read it, but it has sure made me feel a lot happier and more fulfilled.
The reverse is true, too. I think that being "rich" can be a state of mind. I am very far away from being rich in the technical sense of the word, but I feel rich because I have a mortgage-free house and enough money in pensions and GIC savings to last me the rest of my life, probably with a fair bit left over for my family. What more can we reasonably ask of life?Quote:
...I agree with the Gawker on this one. Sure you dont feel rich if your up to your neck in debt no matter how much you make. But that doesnt mean you arent rich. Being in the top 1% of richest poeple in Canada would make me feel like a freaking god. But then again, I dont use credit, dont spend 800$ a month on wine, and 1000$ on shoes...so yea I would have tons of cash left over.
The people in the article have many times more income than I do, but, hard as it is to believe, they don't have nearly as much in assets. And, as much as they're younger than I am, I doubt whether they will have by the time they're my age, considering the material things they deem to be essential to their lives.
I donate blood rather than (more) money. It seems more meaniningful, to me. It also helps that I am O negative.
I hear all the arguments "we need top talent", "we're a huge international organization", "we coordinate hundreds/thousands of employees". But wait, those are the exact same arguments that CEOs of for profits use. And I guarantee it's the same people saying bank CEOs are paid too much and should be giving it to charity.
http://www.givewell.org/), which does extensive research to identify the charities that are most effective (i.e., where most of your donation will go to support direct activities in the field).
His book addresses all the usual argumens for why we shouldn't give (e.g., "we already give through our taxes," "charities take too big a cut of my donation," "why should we contribute to overpopulation by saving lives in developing countries," etc., plus about 15 other common arguments -- he has given his talk to thousands of people over the years and has heard all the counter-arguments. Instead of starting with the conclusion that the counter-arguments are wrong, he started with the assumption that they were right and explored them in depth to see if that was true. In every case he comes up with a soundly logical (backed up by data) argument for why, in fact, they are wrong. It's a dangerous book to read if you want to keep your money. ;-)
I think I'll resolve not to give to any charity that uses third party fundraisers (harrassing people on street corners, since they personally get a good chunk of the donation for themselves) or that pays their CEO more than I make (I clearly need the money more than he/she does, he/she can make up the shortfall).
I had heard about the Anti Malaria Foundation before, looks like it's a pretty effective charity, might give it a closer look.
Like you I hate getting harrassed, whether it's in person or by phone. A guy I met who's been working in international development for 30 years pointed out that the large charities have to focus on keeping themselves afloat, because they have all those salaries and expenses to support; the smaller charities tend to focus more on the mission. There's a great little charity I support here in Montreal that collects bikes and sends them to developing countries - they have a staff of about five people but they leverage it mightily with volunteers and partnerships with NGOs that are based in the countries they send the bikes to. It's amazing how much they can accomplish with so few resources.
I was born before the advent of RhoGHAM and received a lifesaving complete blood transfusion at the age of 2 days. Thanks for donating blood!
Thanks for that article, MG. I wasn't aware that the kidney registry worked that way.
It didn't until a philanthropist, who made a lot of money, used his background as a quant to create something truly life-saving. :)
It'll be interesting to see how well they all stick to their pledges as they get older (some have promised to give 50% away, most are already giving away 10%). Most of them are university students.
Sounds like a modern day nun/monk. And unlike spending 14 hours a day in silent prayer ('a wasted life'), these people will probably still have meaningful and self-fulfilling lives and help hundreds or thousands of others have a meaningfully better life.
(I have those same chairs in my dining room)
I had to go back and look at the first page to remember what we were discussing.
moneygal i'd have imagined you with the 1953 originals:
or possibly these:
one of these in a fantasy corner:
Side bar . . I'm simply terrible at decorating, so when I bought my condo, I hired a decorator . . . her store discount paid her fee x2 (its the chairs that brought that out) . . . does that make me the 'almost rich' hiring someone to shop for me?
The author of the article: "During my entire childhood, spent in a comfortable lower-upper-middle-class neighbourhood of Montreal....."
Lower-upper-middle-class. That is convoluted.
Long time reader, first time posting.
I find this discussion fascinating.
My wife and I are hitting our 40s, weve paid off our Vancouver area townhouse, have no car payments, our only major expense right now is daycare for our toddler.
Up to the point my wife pursued a career change (about 2 years ago) we were making about 25k less than those profiled in the article.
We have been socking away as much as we can for several years now. When we had the mortgage we were paying it down as much as we could.
Hitting middle age now im looking back, in retrospect, and wondering if we are too frugal and if we have missed out on really enjoying our lives.
Some of the spending habits of the families portrayed in the article are ridiculous, but i think that it is possible to be ridiculously frugal too. Do we sock away as much as we can, missing out on enjoying life, so that we can retire 5-10 years early and continue to be frugal?
I work with a guy who spends everything he makes. He flew to the stanley cup finals in Boston last year at a drop of a hat. He owns a condo downtown and pays a ridiculous maintenance fee on it. He has absolutely no clue as to where his paycheque deductions are going, no clue as to what his pension benefits are. Eats out almost all the time. Travels several times per year.
In the big picture am i really further ahead than him if for instance we both get a terminal illness during the next decade? Will he continue to enjoy the next 20 years while i keep socking away what i make so that i can be a little more comfortable in my 60s and 70s while i look back and wish i did buy a case of Bordeaux, travelled to Paris and NY more often, and had a nicer car?
Im in a job I hate right now, and have been for over a decade, because of the pay and because of the pension. Maybe I should be more like the families portrayed?
How do some of you view the balance between lifestyle and frugality? Anyone else view this as a dilemma?
I don't think most people are super frugal only to retire and then do nothing. Being frugal in order to retire early gives you way more flexibility to pursue interests of your choice.
There is nothing wrong with a little Bordeaux here or some Amarone there, the idea is to make choices that make you happy. Is the happiness of a case of Bordeaux worth working a few days at the office?
It's a balance that hangs under a big cloud of uncertainty: there's always the possibility that you can scrimp and save now for retirement, only to die or become incapacitated before you even reach retirement age. But if you live only for today and you end up dying at 98, your last few decades could be miserable because you'll have barely enough to survive on.
You can guess at your life expectancy based on statistics and your family history, but in the end it's only a guess: you could get hit by a truck tomorrow or you could outlive your life expectancy by 20 years.
I try to take a "no regrets" approach: I donate money to my future self, in the form of retirement savings, but I reserve some for my present self to ensure that I get some joy today from the fruits of my labours. The key for me lies in being true to my own standards for what I need to be happy. Luckily for me it doesn't take much. A good book, a walk in the woods, an evening with friends...this stuff doesn't cost much but it makes me happy and fortunately I don't lust after more typical things like an expensive vacation, a fancy car, a big-screen TV, a second home, or a $400 bottle of wine. I do like my iPad, though. ;-)