How Do You Deal With Money Envy?

Did you see this piece in the New York Times Style section about trying live on $500,000 a year? I know, boo hoo!

So in Best Intentions, Lisa knows she has a pretty darn good life: husband, two kids, a job in PR (though she’s terrified she might lose it any second.) But her kids go to a very chi-chi Upper East Side school in Manhattan where almost everyone seems to have a gilded life. She feels like she’s “in their world on a visa.” It’s not that Lisa is so jealous of the things, second houses, designer clothes, but she does fantasize about their freedom from worry. Sometimes she feels envy, sometimes (okay, often) distaste. Which is pretty much how I feel. It’s complicated.

Listen, I’m a downtown single mom writer with a kid in a very UES private school. (The school friend’s six story townhouse with the dumb waiter in Best Intentions? Let’s just say that part isn’t fiction.) Sometimes I feel like I’m visiting a foreign country with its own rituals and language. I can’t believe what gets taken for granted. (And I don’t mean this as self-pity – I’m incredibly blessed.) I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, I don’t want any other life, only sometimes I have to admit I do get a little envious of the freedom.

So, ‘fess up, do you ever get a case of money envy? If so, how do you cope?

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3 responses to “How Do You Deal With Money Envy?

  1. laurenbrooklyn

    Love the blog idea Emily!

    Okay, I saw that nytimes piece too and thought…$500k?! My first two jobs here each paid under $35k and I still had a blast. I can see as I get older though, especially as close friends move up in their income brackets and I stay on a poor journos salary, how easy it is to fall into the envy trap.

    I mean, yeah of course I’d like to take trips to the South of France every 6 months too or be able to afford a 4 course dinner at Per Se. But I also love taking weekend trips up to New Paltz and eating from the taco stand!

    Comparing your life against others is just always dangerous, I guess. And yet, par for the course here in NY.

  2. Judy Glantzman

    I am excited by the idea that times are a-changin and what we previously lived by is going to change. It is always better to pair down, and rethink presumptions of reality. I loved the book, and in some way that is what it is about. Are things really how we have become accustomed to? The book brings you on a journey of the lives of creative people who are trying to bent by and trying to bend to their own fantasies and desires. There are casualties. The ending describes how things we knew all along, basic truths, remain.

  3. It really isn’t easy sometimes. I have a comfortable life in New York but do worry about money and being able to travel or just do the things I want to do. I’m amazed at the amount of money people have. One of our friends a few years back, had already sent his kids and wife off to Italy for the summer and he was joining them for a couple of weeks . He asked the bank to transfer some money (I forget the amount–say $20,000). The bank made a mistake and transferred $200,000 and then corrected and in the process because of the value of the dollar that day, he made something like $30,000 on it. He told me that story was just so excited by his little win. I was utterly disturbed for numerous reasons–for one, that kind of banking mistake could never happen to me because I just don’t have that kind of money in the bank. It just made me realize how different his world is from mine and it all had to do with the freedom his money gave him. Plus that thing about money making money–something I’ll never benefit from.

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