Do you ever notice income disparities between you and your friends? Whether a friend suggests dining at a restaurant you can’t afford or a take a trip that’s out of your budget, is there some time your friendship has been affected by income? Personally, I’ve definitely felt weird about certain things but for the most part, my friends are generous and understanding. But I do feel as though I’m limited in terms of activities and trips I can suggest.
There’s a wonderful article in the International Business Times called Millenials And The Wealth Gap: What To Do When Your Friends Are Richer Than You, that’s fascinating. Here’s a crazy factoid from the article:
Wealth inequality among millennials is more pronounced than in any other American generation. Engineering majors fresh out of college command lavish Silicon Valley salaries designing apps that feature “content” written by their poorly paid peers who studied literature. Graduates of law and business schools walk into six-figure incomes while friends struggle to make their way in nonprofit or government jobs.
Here’s another crazy one:
One-third of Americans who earn over $500,000 a year are under the age of 35, according to market research firm FutureCast. They exist in an income bracket dominated by lawyers, executives, engineers and entrepreneurs.
Jeez. That was pretty startling to me, but I guess it makes sense when you think about it. I tend to think of the age of 35 as still being somewhat fresh in one’s career, but I’m a writer, and our paths are quite different from lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs.
What’s most interesting to me is this section of the article, when they describe a woman (Belk) who is choosing an artistic career path (writing).
Now that Belk lives on her own, she gravitates toward people who share her beliefs about money. Many of her co-workers have become close friends. Like Belk, they spend their free time focusing on artistic pursuits. Most of them do not picture a house or kids in their future.
“In a way, it’s freeing because I’ve found people taking a similar financial path to me,” Belk says. “When you have money, it’s hard to comprehend the reality of living with financial constraints or that a person may be happy not making as much. This is a lifestyle choice.”
What I find fascinating is this idea that sometimes income gaps may actually reflect lifestyle choices, and not how hardworking or talented we are. Maybe our new friends that we make as adults will tend to make the same amount of money we do. And perhaps, income gaps may more often than not affect our oldest friendships, when we didn’t yet know who/what we would become.
The situation regarding income gaps between family members is even worse. I never enjoyed being an only child until I got married. I witness siblings becoming distant and even hostile because of income differences. I was envious of friends with big families during the holiday season until I saw all the infighting.