Thoughts From a Wealthy Neighborhood

So it’s been over a week and a half now chillin’ at the mother-in-law’s, and so far everything’s going superbly. Every day we hang out together, drink coffee together, and even have dinner at a normal time of night together – 6pm. Down 5 hours from our normal late-night feeding we were trying to break ;) I’m actually feeling like a responsible adult these days! (And to answer my own question from earlier – no, we do not have any curfews, haha…)

I’m also LOVING the feeling of vagabonding over here. It’s amazing how normal your life can be without a ton of your stuff weighing you down. This must be what it feels like to be a minimalist? We each have a suitcase or two of clothes, and a handful of toys for the baby, but really it’s like 1/1,000th of the things we own on this Earth. Even though, granted, we’re using all my mother in law’s stuff too, of course. I can’t claim we’d be that comfortable in a house without any furniture or beds or TVs, but overall the break from reality’s been pretty refreshing :) And our mother’s having fun too!

Something else I’ve been noticing is that our mother-in-law lives in quite the wealthy neighborhood. I never really paid attention much before, but it seems every other house on the block is a million+ with perfectly manicured lawns and plenty of luxury cars in the driveways – as if to match each of the different outfits for the week. It’s rather fascinating. You know you’re in a different world when even the parking lot at the Home Depot looks like a luxury car dealership! Haha… I can’t not park next to a Benz or Rover, or even sexier, a Maserati every time I roll up. Even the people getting arrested there looked like a million bucks! (That’s right – I said arrested. The last time I hit it up there was some dolled up chick getting pushed into a police car in handcuffs for doing who knows what… felt like the Real Housewives of DC up in here!)

In a weird way, I’m also starting to feel more rich too. As if there’s some sort of osmosis playing a part here allowing OUR wallets to grow just by *being around* all these Richie Riches, haha…. (Well, I assume most of them are rich, even though we all know looks can be quite deceiving). In no way do I desire any of these fancy pants homes or lifestyles which require many a thousands to maintain every single month (though I will take the cars!), I am, however, sensing the hustler in me starting to flex his mind muscles the more I take my neighborhood strolls :) It gives me hope that I, too, can afford whatever the hell I want one of these days –  regardless of what it is!

It’s an odd, yet motivational, feeling to have indeed. Especially since “don’t be like the Joneses” have been engrained in our heads every since laying eyes on our very first finance blogs :) But I can TOTALLY see how easy it is to fall into this trap! Being surrounded by all this wealth is making ME want to be like them too! Only more in the “making of the money” department over the “nice things” one. Something, again, I’m assuming is accurate unless this whole community is a huge facade. It just makes me want to get out there and kill it!

So needless to say we’re having quite the interesting time over here. And getting in lots of quality time and adventure all while racking my brain to figure out how to make tons more money too. Which, thus far, has totally escaped me, haha… I’m halfway tempted to stop some of these guys mid-grocery shopping and ask how they came to live here! Just don’t want to make any more of a scene than I am w/ my ‘hawk and pimp broken mobile out front… It also seems that a majority of the people here are in their 50s and 60s, so perhaps the “trick” I’m missing is simply time?

Okay, I’ll stop my ramblings there :) I guess all we can do is keep on hustlin’ and banging out those goals with the hope of hitting our dreams before we’re all old and wrinkly. And even in that case it wouldn’t be too horrible. I can rock a Range w/ some chromed out rims in my 60s!

[Photo by doug_wertman]

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  1. Free Money Minute June 12, 2013 at 6:09 AM

    Glad you pointed out that things are not always as they seem. It is very possible the bank owns more of their stuff than they do. Although many have probably worked a long successful life and are now enjoying the luxuries it provides. Find something you can create of value, like this blog, and you will find financial freedom.

  2. Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle June 12, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    My street is made up of houses worth the least in my fancy pants neighbourhood. I walk my dog down the highest price street in my area and their lawns are much nicer than our lawns. They all have crews of lawn and snow removal people.

    I don’t know where they walk their dogs but they all park their cars in the 3 car attached garages so you never see them entering or leaving their homes or having coffee on the front porch.. Not a stalker – just a dog walker.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      Haha… maybe they’re hustlin’ 24/7 to be able to afford it all? :)

  3. Aimee June 12, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    I also love the feeling of having less stuff. I recently moved into a studio apartment by myself in a super rural town (think horse farms) from a borderline-luxury two bedroom with a roommate in a concrete jungle on a super scary death-trap busy road. While the old place was “affordable” with a roommate ($800 per month each plus cheap utilities), I’m saving boatloads in the new place ($750 per month with EVERYTHING included). Anyway, my roommate had SO MUCH STUFF. I’m talking 16 place settings, wine glasses, high ball glasses, martini glasses etc etc etc, and some of the stuff we NEVER used in the 2 years we lived at that place. That apartment was my first apartment so it was great that she already had these things so I didn’t have to buy very much. Now that I’m on my own in this place it feels so awesome to have pretty much nothing but tupperware, and to buy as little as I need as I have the extra money in my budget to do it. Less is more, my friend.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Indeed! I’m hoping to get rid of even MORE once we’re moved in and start unpacking too. I can really get used to this.

  4. Your Daily Finance June 12, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    I remember those days of eating at 10-11 pm man it was horrible and a hard habit to break. Being around people with money or in wealthy neighborhoods just makes you feel different. Not that you need it or really know those peoples situations(they could be in foreclosure or something) But nice houses and car on the block makes you realize that anything and everything is possible if you put your mind to it. Keep hustling and break that late night eating habit.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      EXACTLY. And it’s all about priorities too. If I want a fancy car/home bad enough I can figure out a way to get it!

  5. Michelle June 12, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Having less stuff must feel great! And interesting about the wealthy neighborhood. I work in a wealthy town so I know what you mean. Everyone seems to have a black Tahoe or a black Escalade haha.

  6. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer June 12, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Isn’t interesting how living in a wealthy neighborhood makes you feel wealthy. We moved from a “keep up with the Joneses'” suburb to a country road of hobby and working farms that apparently is the “rich street” in our area. All of our neighbors have plenty of cash, but are super frugal. It was precisely two months after we moved in (and before we knew about the reputation of the street and the money matters of the neighbors) that we finally got our financial crap together and started living frugally and riding on the road to debt free. Hmmmmm. :-)

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      That reminds me – one day I want to try and work on a farm from sun up to sun down and see if I can do it, haha… seems fun but a lot more work than we guess I bet!

  7. David Hunter June 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    I wonder how many of these “Richie Riches” are living one paycheck to paycheck.

  8. Will June 12, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Living in South Florida and seeing all the luxury cars always makes me wonder what the person driving the luxury car does for a living. I also wonder where does all this money come from?

    1. Cedes June 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      I work just outside of DC and adjacent to my work is an Aston Martin dealership… every time I see people rolling up in there to scope the cars out and take them for a test drive I wonder what in the heck they must do to be able to afford a car like that. (Base models are anywhere from $180,000 – $200,000) That is more than I paid for my house! Obviously this is a very high power area, and there are people pulling in some big checks, but thats still quite the chunk of change to be laying out for something that gets them from point A to point B just as well as my $25,000 car!

      1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:45 PM

        I bet a good handful of them are just test driving it for the fun of it too :) I wonder if they do credit checks or anything before?? Would get frustrating if you let any joe schmo up in there driving ’em around that couldn’t afford a tire off one of those, haha…

  9. Leah June 12, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    I hate the fact that so many of these comments just assume that the rich people you’re living near are broke.

    Yes, a portion of the “wealthy” population is up to their eyeballs in debt, but this rich-bashing (a pasttime that’s grown in full force since the start of the recession) discounts the millions of people who worked really hard, liked nice things wanted to live in great neighborhoods and achieved that goal.

    If you want to be rich, it doesn’t serve you hold a negative view of rich people, and to assume they’re all debtors and didn’t earn what they have.

    I think you’re wise, J, to ask what helped them get rich…and emulate that in your own flavor.

    1. Celina June 12, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Took the words right out of my mouth, Leah.

    2. David Hunter June 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Obviously, all of these people have money, but I’m curious to know how many are living paycheck to paycheck. I know plenty of rich people who have loads of cash in the bank. And, I know people who are “rich” (they have big houses, nice cars, toys, etc.) who live paycheck to paycheck.

      Oh, and I definitely know where their money came from… work and long hours.

    3. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:49 PM

      Oh man, you’re right on that one. Haven’t heard of that term before (rich-bashing) but I like it :) Thanks for commenting!

  10. akilah June 12, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    I’m feeling like you right now. I’m back in my childhood home after selling and it feels so good.

    I love being free of “stuff” and living with only 2 suitcases of clothes until i decide where to next. I don’t have to worry about who’s going to house sit when I’m out of town and I can just pick up and go. Being debt free feels amazing but I got to figure out what my next income producing move is gonna be and being in a wealthy zip code is rather motivating.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      Awesome! Sounds freeing just READING our comment :) Congrats on the new move – let me know what you end up figuring out. I love this stuff!

  11. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) June 12, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    That is kind of interesting! I’d love to know how many of them are actually rich. That would be some juicy gosisp.

  12. John S @ Frugal Rules June 12, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Like David said, I wonder how many are living paycheck to paycheck. I bet it would be surprising to learn how many are.

  13. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce June 12, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Great that you’re taking earlier dinners–I remember being in that bad habit and it was a significant physical drain.

  14. Jake @ Common Cents Wealth June 12, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Sounds like a pretty good situation you got going on. I also have experienced increased motivation when around wealthier people. I try to surround myself with people who motivate me like this because it makes me a better person.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      Yup! And the smarter they are the better too – I ask them a billion and one questions when I meet them! :)

  15. Retire By 40 June 12, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Heh, that’s why I don’t like a rich neighborhood. The urge to keep up is irresistible in the long run. I’d rather live in a nice mid income neighborhood.

  16. grandmasmad3ringcircus June 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    I have gone through those neighborhoods too.
    When I was younger,it was with a sense of awe.
    Now I really feel sorry for those people! I bet 85% of them are in debt to their eyeballs,
    stressing about paying their bills and keeping up with their neighbors. They have to worry about the economy and losing their jobs.
    No thanks! I’m far from rich, but I’m content.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      I’m sure there are some in debt, but as Leah pointed out up above I bet the numbers are much lower than people think (those in debt, that is). There are tons of rich people in this country who live somewhere – and they probably congregate together :) Perhaps this is one of those places?

  17. Roz June 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Read the book ‘STOP ACTING RICH’ by Dr. Thomas Stanley. It will answer alot of your questions.

  18. Mrs PoP @ Planting our Pennies June 12, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I think time is a huge part of it. Where we live, the most affluent areas are chock full of people in their 50’s+. It’s pretty rare to see someone in their 30’s or younger in one of those neighborhoods. Even in our neighborhood, which is nice but not INSANE, the average age is easily 60. We’re pretty unusual to live in as nice of an area as we do at our age, but we think that’s mostly because we got the smallest house in the nicest neighborhood and happened to catch the bottom of the giant RE crash.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      I think you’re right on that one. And I bet if we were all around on this blog a handful of years from now we’d be able to comfortably live in those areas too!

  19. Kyle @ Debt Free Diaries June 12, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    I love that you find yourself inspired by everyone else. I too feel inspiration rather than resentment for those who have more/nicer things than I do. Hey, even if the majority of people get it by making not-so-smart choices, why can’t I do the same thing while making smart choices?

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      haha, indeed :)

  20. Debt Blag June 12, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Ah, I know that sort of neighborhoods well. Here, they’re mostly in the outer-boroughs or New Jersey. I also know that there are plenty of people my age who could afford to live out there, but want a different lifestyle and so rent crazy expensive apartments in trendy neighborhoods in lower Manhattan. I’m pretty good at not comparing myself to them though…

  21. kathleen June 12, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Who gets arrested at a Home Depot? Wow!

  22. Shafi June 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    There ain’t nothing wrong to visit or even live in that kind of neighborhood. The problem I see is you’re damned if you follow the Joneses, you’re damned if you don’t.

  23. Christine @ ThePursuitofGreen June 12, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    That must be a lot of fun to live in a wealthy neighborhood for a little bit and get inspired! If you permanently lived there, I wonder if you would eventually feel pressured to buy nicer things and look rich. Sounds like those people worked hard for their entire lives for their homes! I hope they don’t have a lot of debt.

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:57 PM

      I was wondering the same thing actually (feeling pressured or not), and I don’t think I would to be honest with you. In fact, I’d probably ENJOY being the odd man out more! I’ve got no shame pimping my beat up caddy around these streets, haha… it def stands out at least ;)

  24. JC June 12, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    It’s amazing how the “keeping up with the Jonses” can affect one’s shopping habit. Some people don’t even realize it either. It facinates me :)

  25. StackingCash June 12, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Oh man, such a timely post. I consider my city to be the worst when it comes to those who flaunt their wealth. Las Vegas, NV has the whole range of classes but the wealthy or wannabe wealthy show off bling like it’s going out of style.

    I wonder why I just don’t get the impression that wealth comes from hard work. I think most of us work hard, yet don’t even come close to the wealth that is flaunted in our faces. I’m one of those who thinks there are more insidious dealings going on out there…

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 10:58 PM

      haha, that could be true ;) at least there in Vegas!

  26. Slackerjo June 12, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Why don’t you ask your mother-in-law to introduce you to some neighbors, “This is my son in law J, the famous financial blogger?” Perhaps some residents are fans? I bet they might want to hear just as much about your success as you do their success.

    I am curious though, is this an older neighborhood? My parents moved into our house in July 1967 and paid just over $24K (my dad got a deal, new appliances and some repairs because our house had been the model home. They sold it in 1981 for $90K) and now a mere 46 years the houses in the neighborhood sell around $600K. I am dying of curiosity to find out if any of the home owners in your MIL’s neighborhood are mortgage free because they bought these houses years ago when prices were reasonable and paid off the mortgage which allows them to have the nice cars and manicured lawns as a reward.

    Okay, the more I type, the more questions I want to ask. So dude, put on your best hoodie and spruce up that mohawk cause we need to know!!!

    1. J. Money June 12, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      You know, I think you are right on at least half the places here. So far the only ones I really see during my walks are older and look retired, and the other half are at least 15-20 years older than me. So it could be they bought early and now reaping the benefits! I’m just waiting to come across someone my own age (who doesn’t live with their parents) to see what I can find out ;) But I’m also running out of time – gonna be off again and finally into our new home soon! Woohoo!

  27. Fleamarket monger June 12, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Some of those rich people in there 50’s bought there million dollar houses 30 years ago for 89 thousand.

  28. Punky Coletta June 13, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Now I want to know how people came to be in that neighborhood and have those cars, too! Love hearing stories of how people got to where they are. I hope you interview some of those neighbors for a blog post!

    1. J. Money June 13, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      I totally would if I had more time! (and enough balls to straight up ask them, haha…)

  29. Kristie June 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    As a young child I often dreamed of living in one of the more beautiful neighborhoods in my Southern California community, but those dreams were based primarily on the natural beauty of the area. Yes, the streets were definitely lined with gorgeous custom homes, but what touched my heart was the sprawling green lawns, the massive old oak trees, and the piece de resistance, a creek, that to this day still flows through several of the properties — my property included. I live there now with my husband. And we and our three dogs love it. Not everyone who resides in those communities we love taking that Sunday drive through, live above their means. We don’t. My husband and I are what I call “a late (or later) in life married couple.” And we got lucky. Individually we each saved and invested throughout the “important years,” and have continued to do so during our marriage. And on a side note, we have a couple of luxury cars too, but ours are now 6 and 14 years old. We are living our dream, not the Joneses’.

    1. J. Money June 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      Nice ending to that story!! Way to fulfill your dreams :)

  30. Mike Carlson June 16, 2013 at 4:55 AM

    Looks like you are enjoying a lot of you time with your wealthy neighborhood. They can be your inspiration to be that luxurious when you reach 50 or 60.