Three Stories About Wealth

Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash.

I couldn’t decide which one of these stories was most interesting, so I’m sharing them all:

First, the NYT asks ten people who each make over $200,000 a year (per household, I’m assuming) to define “wealth.”

“Having the financial freedom to contribute to the things that you want to contribute,” [Kyle Webb, CFO of Webb Family Enterprises] said. “That’s measured by earning twice the income that is required to sustain your cost of living via passive income.”

He said that wealth “provides access to more,” and that it should extend for “future generations to be able to have, again, more access and more opportunities and to be able to extend it to other people whether they are in your familial line or if there are opportunities for other people in your community that you feel warrant opportunity.”

Two of the ten interviewees acknowledge that some of their wealth–including their ability to join the family business—came from their parents, and that’s the subject of this week’s Money Mom advice column at The Cut:

Claire, 26, finished her master’s degree in public health earlier this year and just started working for a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. It doesn’t pay much, but for Claire, that doesn’t matter—she has a trust fund that covers all her expenses (including a nice apartment that she definitely couldn’t afford otherwise). She has always tried to play down her family’s wealth, but now, she wants to make sure that her new colleagues don’t find out about it.

Money Mom Charlotte Cowles suggests that Claire continue to downplay—but not hide—her financial situation while making sure her work output is impeccable. She should also focus on what she and her coworkers have in common, because that’s how you make friends.

The upper middle class, meanwhile, is currently discovering what it has in common: a high-tax, low-deduction future, if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passes. From the Washington Post:

 On the income distribution charts at the center of tax overhaul plans, Courtney Mishoe knows she’s doing well. She works as a tax manager at a firm in the Atlanta suburbs. Her husband is a police officer. Together, they make more than $180,000 a year. They are solidly in the upper middle class. But they have a mortgage and three kids, including one in day care and another in high school with plans to go to college. It all adds up. They depend on tax deductions to make their budget work.

It is interesting that the Washington Post calls $180,000 “upper middle class” and the New York Times calls $200,000 “wealthy.” I wonder how much Claire’s parents make.

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