28 Oct
You Can’t Judge the Wealthy by Their McMansions

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I am literally the poorest person in my fancy town. We have a nice, modest home, I’m perfectly happy and grateful for everything we have. But we are surrounded by giant houses, fancy cars, and so much wealth. The other day I lied to my friends when they asked me to join them at an expensive restaurant for dinner. I just can’t blow that kind of money on one meal! We’re not moving and the school district is great here. But sometimes it’s just hard to deal with all the wealth.

Any ideas on how to deal with this?

Not Keeping Up with the Joneses


Dear Not Keeping Up with the Joneses,

Are you sure you’re the poorest person in your town? It could be you’re really the most prosperous in town. If we’ve learned anything from the Great Recession, it’s that you can’t judge the wealthy by their McMansions. For all you know your neighbors are overextended, underwater, and burdened by a house, a Benz, and a country club membership they can’t truly afford.

You know what I would like us to do? I mean other than TP the Joneses’ McMansions, because I really detest financial show-offs. Let’s start a Not Keeping Up with the Joneses movement! (You’ll never guess how I came up with the slogan.) Look at us and try to keep up with our modest homes that don’t suck up half of the power grid, our 11-year-old paid-for cars, and our 22-piece gourmet cookware set found on Craigslist. We’ll be the ones in vogue before your neighbor’s next collection call.

As far as what to do between now and then, they say honesty is the best policy. Except when it comes to money. We Americans uphold a financial tradition of secrets and lies, so keep lying to your friends! The next time you’re invited to a costly event, tell them you would love to come except you just donated all of your fun money to the orphanage. Not only will this get you out of the overpriced dinner, it will make them feel guilty too. You could also say you’re working in a soup kitchen, knitting caps for preemies, or bathing lepers – all good charity cover stories! Before long their guilt will spur them to donate to charities too, so your lying will actually make the world a better place.

Keep lying.  Keep saving.

Heather, TMH

14 Responses to “You Can’t Judge the Wealthy by Their McMansions”


Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

You say you actually had to lie to your friends; but are they really friends, or are they just acquaintance? Because my true friends know better than to invite me to a very expensive dinner out, unless it’s clear they are going to stand the bill.

I mean, if one is a real friend, he knows more or less about your financial situation and therefore is able to understand what can be asked of you…


Comment by hokgardner.

I’m comfortable enough with my true friends to say when a restaurant is out of my price range or to even say, “Sorry, I’ve blown my entertainment budget for the month already.”


Comment by vodka tonic.

I’m comfortable saying that I don’t blow that kind of money on anything that I’ll poop out in a few hours, along with an incredulous look and slow shaking of head.

Unless you’re the gal who suggested last summer that guests pay $5 a head to fund your dinner party. Let’s delineate “healthy wealthy” and “sacky tacky”:

Lisa Reply:

That holier-than-thou & judgmental attitude isn’t helping anything. Everyone chooses to splurge on what they want. Who appointed you Supreme Judge of Acceptable Ways of Spending Money?

Next time, a simple, “I’m not really a foodie, so it would be a waste of money for me” would be a whole lot better.

vodka tonic Reply:

I am the Judge of the Acceptable Ways to Spend My Money.

You’ll have to trust me, if you saw my grey roots and baby spit-up on my weary sweatsuit right now, any semblance of being “Holier-Than-Thou” would be unrecognizable.

But you go ahead! Order the surf-n-turf, and I’ll read about it on Yelp.


Comment by Heather, TMH.

I can’t believe you charity haters, trying to prevent this woman from encouraging charity donations through lying. What is wrong with the world?!

Lisa Reply:

Sigh…I know. The world needs more humanitarians like you.



Comment by annie.

Ok, I’m with Heather on the lying part. You could have totally written this letter from my really really really small living room.

We’re the smallest house in a neighborhood of McMansions. Hell we don’t even have a basement to their 4 stories. But, I have a great view and I can see their pile of unpaid bills from my house.

Lie to them, pimp some charities and call it good!


Comment by My McMansion is better than yours.

It’s all crap. They are maxed on credit and probably “run their own business” which is code for file corporate Ch 7/11 when they run out, and just start over, taking a bare hit to their personal lifestyle. I was chastised for working and using childcare while all these women were making “sacrifices” to stay home…..turns out they were living on credit and several filed bankruptcy. It’s usually public record in most states/counties.

I bet you can host a bitchin dinner party in your home anyway!


Comment by Mom on the Verge.

What if they’re just really trying to be polite, and they don’t want you to be the only one in the neighborhood who isn’t invited. (They wouldn’t want you to think they’re shunning you for being poor.)

Make sure you tell them that it was sweet of them to ask. Then tell them “no thank you” and say that you just aren’t in a position to go to such an expensive restaurant just now.


Comment by Plano Mom.

You must live in Plano! Deemed by CNNMoney as the wealthiest city in the country. 22 Starbucks, and 5 Wal-Marts.

My son’s birthday is in October, one of the first boys. Every year, we had an awesome birthday party – at home. Nothing involving a rental fee. I can’t begin to tell you how many parents would come to me and thank me for keeping the birthday party realistic, so there wasn’t a ridiculous standard to live up to.

I am sure you are not the only person that is thinking it is way too expensive. You just might be the only person who admits it.


Comment by Leigh Ann.

I think my preemies wore some of those preemie caps you lied about knitting, so I say go that route! No one can resist a good preemie.


Comment by Alexandra.

we’re the poorest family in town, and I like it. Everyone drops off their used expensive clothes for my kids to wear.

Milk it, I say.


Comment by Deborah.

You guys are cracking me up.

Consider Checking Out...