9 Outrageous Ways the Rich Spend Their Money the Rest Of Us Could Only Dream About By Kali Holloway

“Rich People—They’re Just Like Us!” tabloid magazines assure us, and that’s true, at the mitochondrial level. Otherwise, F. Scott Fitzgerald [3] got it right the first time: Rich people are not like the rest of us, and they’ve put a lot of stopgaps in place to make sure it stays that way. I don’t even mean the way they own 43 percent [4] of the country’s wealth domestically and more than 40 percent globally [5], or how they control the [6] political process [7], or even how they’ve managed to jigger [8] the justice system so they can literally get away with murder, though those are all related points. I’m talking about the lifestyles and spending habits of the rich (and sometimes, but certainly not always, famous), which are a world—and many, many dollars—apart from the rest of us, just the way they like it.

So in “honor” of the .001 percent, who have not been honored nearly enough, here’s a list of what probably amounts to a mere .001 percent of the bajillion things rich people spend their money on that the rest of us simply can’t afford. The big-ticket items they favor run the gamut from kooky to enviable to evil. But the important thing here is, you can’t afford them.

1. Trophy “Wife Bonuses.” According to Wednesday Martin, who calls herself a “social researcher” and says she has studied “the lives of women from the Amazon basin to sororities at a Big Ten school,” “wife bonuses” are exactly what they sound like: large, earned, annual monetary payments from millionaire Manhattan husbands to their immaculately coiffed, hard-bodied, perfect child-rearing, gala-throwing wives. (Followup pieces in other sources seem to verify Martin’s claims—if perhaps not all of the details, the general idea—including this one [9], which quotes Manhattan lawyers for the very rich, and this one [10], by an Upper East-Sider wife who claims to be a bonafide wife bonus recipient.) Martin, who married a rich Upper East-Sider and relocated to the neighborhood to raise her children, claims to have assimilated into the UES’s “Glam SAHMs” (or “glamorous stay-at-home-moms”), and says she learned about wife bonuses from actual recipients. In a recent New York Times [11] piece, Martin describes how a rich i-banker or hedge fund manager might reward his wife handsomely for “how well she managed the home budget [or] whether the kids got into a ‘good’ school.” The wives, most of whom Martin says have college degrees but have opted out of careers and thus have no outside income, gain some financial independence, while the husband gets a picture-perfect family. Everybody wins, especially sexism and the 1950s.

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