There are many things in our world that cause us to wonder. Why do birds fly? Why is 42 the answer to everything? What's the secret ingredient to Krabby Patties? These questions remind us that there are no silly questions, only silly answers.
For this very reason, a subreddit called r/NoStupidQuestions was made. Just recently, a Reddit user by the name of No-job-no-money created a thread wondering why are there so many young people flaunting their money these days, and how do they manage it, and the question sparked a vigorous debate that reached 9.3k upvotes and generated 1.5k comments. And below you'll find what people had to say about the subject.
Though the thread originally started on Reddit, you can also add your answers to this post too!
The US is grossly unfair in terms of starting wealth. I don't hate rich kids: they didn't choose to be born rich. But we lived on different planets, and I hate the society that punishes kids for not being born rich.
I grew up on the bottom end. Single mom, with no child support, no job, but with untreated mental health issues. One bedroom apt for three people. Evicted every couple of years. Never enough money for food (not even the unhealthy kind) or clothes without holes. Beg, borrow and steal. No money for doctors, dentists or other fancy services. Sometimes no money for electricity. No fancy luxuries like a shower or AC - so you perpetually look dirty even if you take a bath daily. And kids were mercilessly cruel about things like that.
For school, if it wasn't free, it wasn't happening. Extra curriculars? $10 to join a sport team wasn't happening. Gym clothes? No. Running shoes? No. Want to play ball? Go look around the park and ses if you can find a lost ball. Want to take an AP class or SAT? Better go beg for someone else to pay for it. Want to do science fair? Posterboard and markers are too expensive.
You're 12? Old enough to work under the table. You're 14? You can now get government program jobs with a waiver. You're 16? Now you can step up to legit minimum wage jobs. Just get a passing grade and fuck homework so you have time to do paying work. Graduate as fast as you can to get out of here.
You want to go to college? Ha. Who's going to pay for that application? Who's paying for the bus ride just so you can look at a campus? Who's going to accept you with that shit GPA? I'm lucky I got a waiver on SAT fees and a good score so I still had a chance.
You're 17? Now you can join the Army and get away. A legit paycheck, with legit food and a legit shower and legit work clothes without holes. I put on 20 pounds in basic training because food. Nothing to be scared of from a foreign army compared to the shootings Saturday night in the hood. Dentist had a lot of work to do to catch up. And that poverty-line salary made me the richest I've ever been. Even got a computer.
Turning 18 I had no monetary debt, but years of catching up on basic expenses just to catch up to middle class high schoolers. In another 5 years, I'd even be rich enough to get a 15 year old car. Living off student loans and ramen was heaven, even though the other kids bitched about living off $1000/mo, I was living off $500/mo on food and a room and that was finally the best years of my life. I lost a few years going to wars, but by 25 I caught up to where those middle class kids were at 18.
But of course I hadn't really caught up. After 18 some kids got a cheap room at their parents place, or their parents paid for a cell phone bill, or even paid for their car or college. And after college, some parents helped kids get jobs or down payments for mortgages.
Grad school was great until the scholarships dried up. Interviewing is hard when you've never interacted with corporate white collar employees. Be yourself is terrible advice when they can't relate to your life. Many, many cringeworthy career limiting interactions. Laid off? At least you had a parent with a couch you could crash on. I had that old car that was just getting older to sleep in.
But it got better. I'm still a straight white American male who never got caught up in crime or drugs and did well on standarized tests. I had a chance. I got out of the hood, figured out how to pretend to be middle class, and kept finding work. Hopefully by retirement age I will catch up to the kids born rich who spent most of their adult lives in jail and rehab.
Also different priorities.
In Germany there is a stereotype that young guys from migrants from the south east (Turkey / Afghanistan / etc.) always have big expensive cars. Brand new Mercedes in their twenties. Conservative Germany see that and can only wonder how someone can have something at that young age. It must be stolen, from money laundering in those weird shisha bars. Must be something illegal.
The thing is, Germans prefer other things in life. They don’t show pride in owning something expensive, they don’t want to make someone else jealous. Your neighbors won’t congratulate on your brand new Porsche. They will envy you and probably think you didn’t deserve it. Thing is, those migrants don’t think that way. They are not jealous if you show up with a Mercedes.
So when young men spend the money on a risky loan for an expensive car, it doesn’t make sense to conservative Germans, therefore those young boys didn’t do it and therefore it must be stolen or somehow illegal. In addition I recently learned that to own such a car people will also share it with close friends and instead of having 3 shitty cars they share one luxury car instead. Not many people see your house/flat but wherever you go, people see your car, or cloths or jewelry therefore those things are more important to other cultures than to yourself.
Different priorities, different choices. For you it’s a fake facade, for their circle it is a sign of pride in their belongings. Don‘t project your expectations on others.
Lots of people have family money, but very few are honest about it.
Not paying rent is the primary. You know how much money I would save just by not paying rent. I could pay my mortgage that's how much money.
Tbh I am working just to pay rent :(
Don’t compare your life to someone’s highlight reel on social media.
You see what they want you to see, but you never get to see their problems.
I highly doubt that individuals in their young 20s have the means to live that kind of lifestyle without some kind of support such as their parents. There are exceptions im sure, but the point being is that you should always take what you see with a grain of salt.
Don't even get me started. I was the only one in my ex-friend circle doing literally everything I could to financially educate myself fresh out of high-school.
Those same people are in crippling debt today because they were so busy with building this ridiculous image of themselves as being rich JUST for social media.
One of those guys fucked up real good. He took out a loan for a BMW M3 at 16% interest over 7 years with $3000 down. How he was even approved for that loan is beyond my understanding.
People will do anything for clout, man.
I'm grew up in a pretty rural area and most wealthy young people I know are in Factory/manufacturing and work 60-70 hours a week and have virtually NO free time. They'll have a 50k truck and 200k house in their mid 20's but are stuck in a brutal 12-14hr workday lifestyle.
I know very few wealthy kids that have lots of free time, maybe in that case they would probably have come from wealthy families? Trust fund kids maybe?
Personally Ill take free time over money any day (well to a certain extent I guess) I'm not lazy, I just believe that your TIME is the most valuable currency that you own, not the money in the bank.
My aunt and uncle are loaded. Some years ago, my younger cousin would tell me he bought his expensive car (for a 17 year old) all by himself.
My uncle told me that he had bought both cars for his kids with his own money. Wanted them to save their money.
Totally fine with this. But lying just makes him look desperate for attention.
Also the rent economy - people can rent almost anything these days! Fancy clothes and handbags, cars, property... hell, even friends. So often we only see the surface of people, not the reality.
This is super common in the "influencer" world.
I only recently learnt a mate has a dozens trust funds & stock handed down generationally. They spend most of their time in a constant state of decorating. I always wondered how they afforded to do it considering they don’t do much or anything else.
I've been poor and felt just like you. I'm 31 now and my expenses are literally 600 a month. The rest of my money is spent buying gifts, traveling, and basically doing whatever I want. My friends get annoyed that I "do whatever all the time" but the truth is im almost living day to day like a 14 year old. I eat fast food, leftovers, live with 5 roommates. My actual life is really gross. But I put up with that because I get to have way more freedom and adventures pretty often.
I'm not married, have no kids, hell I haven't owned a car in 5 years, but if you look at my social media it looks like all I do is travel, skydive, party, eat well, kayake, etc.
I'm not posting me sitting at home.
Also, I'm not in debt at all but lots of people are.
Also - If you're a natural "life of the party" type of person. If you have a likable and interesting personality. People are drawn to you and opportunities can heavily turn to your favor.
A lot of people like that are actually in debt. They go into debt to sell the "perfect IG lifestyle." I have plenty of classmates from high school who moved to LA right after graduation (no rich parents btw) and continuously post photos of them showing off cars, going on luxury shopping trips, etc. and most of them are in so much debt it's crazy. One of my classmates left LA last year during the pandemic because she couldn't afford to keep up with her fake lifestyle anymore. Now she has a job working at Target to pay off some of the debt she's accumulated and moved back in with her parents.
I'm young (23) and make way more than I need but if I ever posted a video on a boat or drove a nice car or went to clubs 24/7, it's safe to say it is either my parents vehicles, or I was able to afford it due to the position my parents put me in. No 23 year old who didn't come from a nice upbringing could afford an Audi (I don't drive an Audi, but you get the point), even if they make six figures. Most 23 year old's have a negative net worth. The ones that flaunt anything either are 1) coming from nice backgrounds or 2) are digging themselves into debt. I can confidently say this because I come from the first scenario.
I guess my point is that it is all noise. Don't get distracted by it and pulled into the lifestyle of impressing others. If your life revolves around impressing others, you will not be happy regardless of how much money you have. The future super wealthy people who are currently your age are probably moving silently, without broadcasting their endeavors for the world to see. With that being said, it is nice to try and achieve the highest earning potential you can. An example of that would be me leaving engineering and going into an MBA program that later became a project management gig. Make double as I did as an engineer. Just don't get sucked into the noise. Even someone who makes 300K but can't budget will always be broke. Infinite spending is an illness.
Also the miami/fort lauderdale area is its own beast. You have to take everything with a grain of salt there. I'm sure there are people living in mansions down there who are struggling to make ends meet. I know a few.
Beware of debt.
I make what most would consider a comfortably large amount of money. I drive older cars, have a modest house, and an constantly fixing my broken things.
My neighbors have brand new cars from nice manufacturers, sometimes boats, a second house maybe, and all this and that.
Why? Because they over leverage liability debt. Besides my home, I have none. It's my choice, cause I don't give a fuck about what any one thinks.
I come from a pretty well-off family, and I have made it very, VERY clear that my parents are not to help me unless I ask. I have my own bank account, I'm setting up a life map.
And I probably won't be as rich as these people, because-ngl-some of them are REALLY spoiled.
So. My answer? Rich family. Boom. But hard work is always the answer.
That almost always is the result of rich parents. Either their parents just directly give them money, their parents hooked them up with a job they didn't deserve that pays way better than it should, or their parents cover major bills (car payments, rent, etc) so all of their money can just be spent on "fun time" stuff .
Couple of options:
Still living at home - even a poor paying job can let you live well if your main expenses don't exist
social media effect - you only see the BEST days you don't see the other 6 days in the week.
EDITS to add from other comments:
Debt - especially a way to have the "nice car" they really should not be buying
Luck - there are people out there who get super lucky and fall into the right job that gets them wealthy, or get lucky on Crypto or stocks
Life of the party - Some people get invited to cool events because they are good fun
EDIT 2 Because this blew up more while i was sleeping:
Drug Dealing/Crime - a way to get a lot of money fast
Vacation - this is more for the people around your friends but people will be there for a good time and spending their money.
Hard work - At age 21 this usually going to have be in concert with a bit of luck or parental help, but hard work will take those advantages further.
Possible reasons: family money, credit card debt, illegal activities, "morally ambiguous" activities, rich friends and/or suckers. There are plenty more, and everyone's circumstances are different. Some have planned and budgeted for whatever it is they do. Money isn't everything. Keeping good people around you is. Live within your means, or ideally below it. r/personalfinance is a great repository of information and guidance if you ask for it to get you on track. Flashy clothes and cars aren't everything you think they are; mileage varies with the people who possesses them. The great thing about being 21 is you get to experience that all for yourself and find out. The fact your asking these questions, and hopefully sincerely seeking answers is a great start. Follow up.
What you are missing is called “inherited wealth.”
Adding to this: If your wealthy parents pay your rent and give you a monthly allowance. Mine pay my rent currently and while I’m too much of a homebody to really ever want to show it off, I am putting 90% of the money I’m earning at my job into savings for when I get an apartment I’m paying for after I graduate. I’ve gotten $1600 in my savings for two weeks just because I don’t have to pay for anything, including school debt.
My parents are great and it pisses me off to see other kids in that situation taking it for granted
I wonder if it's a different family dynamic, my friends from SEA, India, etc seem to keep money in the family so to speak, and pool money/accommodation/cars. Until people get married they live in the family house and sometimes even carry on living at home once married or at least in another family-owned home.
This pool of cash/wealth means it's easier to have a nice car. My friend at university (20 years ago) was driving a brand new civic fancy edition something or other. The rest of us couldn't afford cars, but he mentioned it's technically a family car (one of many) that he uses.
I know a lot of girls that are wealthy because they do "lewd" content in various sites. Others do pr0n. Both are lucrative endeavors if you have the discipline to be entrepreneurial. These friends grew up poor, decided to capitalize on their looks while they are still young and can and have been doing extremely well for themselves. Some are smart with their money others not so much
Also another option. Some people just get extremely lucky.
My cousin went to work in a local factory in high school. He was making 80K by the age of 21. Likewise a guy I knew from high school, got a degree that landed him a tech job betting $125,000 after graduating from college.
Not saying these situations are common, but they do happen.
Rich Parents and Credit Cards
I swear I ask myself this all the time.
I see other teenagers on TikTok, and when I say teenagers I really mean it like not even 20.
They have trendy clothes, a never ending wardrobe, a bunch of books, music albums or whatever they like to collect, have expensive phones etc
And I'm just looking at that like how!??
Outside appearances are honestly more of a sign they don’t have as much money as you think, but also could he explained in some ways.
A nice car and nice clothes are not good indicators that they have money. Almost anyone can get a car on loan but what you don’t see if their 16% interest car payments on their 6 years loans, equating to likely double the advertised cost of vehicle, which is depreciated by half once it’s finally paid off.
Nice clothes depending on the brand can still be found for cheap or even at thrift stores. I’ve found lots of great clothes this way.
Also they could be buying these but the rest of their life is crap. My neighbor for example (not hating) doesn’t have to pay for his house because his parents paid for it. So he spends his money on a brand new, big feature truck. Okay fine. But doesn’t have much else - no investments, savings, or any preparation for the future.
Some people just spend money on outside materials - sometimes even to impress others - but have nothing else.
Of course come people have rich parents are might be doing okay for a season. But you can look rich without being rich.
Also in my experience the higher middle class to slightly wealthy people show rarely any signs that they are.
Im not rich my any means but I drive a 16 year old car that is literally worth only a couple grand and has rust. I don’t upgrade because I don’t need to and rather have the money in investments.
That being said, the best way to start having free time and make good money is to start looking at options like starting a business, investing opportunities, etc.
For me, I have a good job that I do 14 13 hours days straight with 14 days off to rest.
Also - DEBT. In particular for Cars.
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